Holly Meyer understands what it takes to develop a sound, functional, fertile bull for her customers. And although she faces what some producers might see as obstacles – the heat and humidity of the South along with the challenges of grazing on fescue, Holly and her family have mastered the art of breeding cows and raising cattle that thrive under the environmental conditions of Southwest Missouri.
“We realized the importance of environmental tolerance when we moved from Michigan to Missouri,” Holly said of the BUB Ranch that put down its roots near Koshkonong, Mo., nearly three decades ago. “If the cattle can survive the Ozarks, they can survive anywhere.”
The BUB Ranch raises, develops and markets between 100-130 bulls annually – primarily registered Angus, along with Sim-Angus, and Ultra Black. Although a majority of the bulls are the progeny of registered seed stock, the bulls are not pampered, but rather raised and treated like commercial cattle, so they are ready to work once they reach their new homes.
The BUB Ranch includes both spring and fall calving herds, and a functional mother cow with genetics to thrive and raise a calf in the heat and on fescue is a must. The calves will learn at an early age that grazing fescue and other tall grasses is fundamental to survival. When the calves are three weeks away from weaning they are introduced to creep feed in a tall grass area just to get them used to eating grain. Once the calves are weaned, they are brought into a dry lot for two weeks and fed a starter ration. After those two weeks, heifers are turned back to grass with a supplement tub. Bulls are turned out into larger pastures – up to 30 acres – with supplement tubs and are fed 8-10 pounds of grain per day.
“The bulls will rarely get more than 10 pounds of grain per day in their lifetime. We want them to be in a grazing state of mind, so they will readily graze and convert grass and fescue grass into energy,” Holly said.
One of the most important factors of developing bulls is making sure they have a good mineral program in place. Holly said the BUB Ranch bulls are fed VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® or VitaFerm® HEAT™ mineral in the summer to reduce the heat stress while during their critical growth period. At BUB Ranch, they do their first fertility check on the bulls between 11.5 and 13 months of age.
“When we semen check those bulls in October, we know they have produced that semen up to 90 days earlier, so as early as August 15. If we can keep their body temperatures cooler, their semen quality will be higher, and they will be ready to go in the fall,” Holly said. She added that the need to recheck semen quality is timely and expensive, other reasons the VitaFerm HEAT mineral is so important to their operation.
When the BUB Ranch starts marketing their bulls privately as yearlings, they have a product they are proud of. The bulls are not fat, have more desirable feet and legs, and increased libido as fat has not layed in around their testicles.
“We choose to give up some pounds at yearling weight to let the bulls grow and not lay that fat on. They can put fat on later when they are done growing,” Holly said. “We have a return customer base who comes back because our bulls’ feet and legs are sounder and their fertility is increased.”
Heat, humidity, fescue. Some producers would see these challenges and run. At BUB Ranch, they have turned challenges into opportunities to grow and develop functional, productive bulls that they have marketed for 25 years. And with products like VitaFerm HEAT and Concept•Aid, we hope to help them grow and develop bulls for at least another 25 years.