For progress to happen, change is usually going to occur. Jay Dickson, Manager at Center Ranch in Centerville, Texas, has seen and made his share of changes in the 26 years that he’s been with the operation, and with the changes have come growth and progress. Finis Welch, started Center Ranch in 1987 with 130 acres. When Dickson arrived in 1992, the ranch had 800 acres, 50 cows and 3 horses. Today the ranch is comprised of more than 10,500 acres, 2,500 head of cattle and 500 horses. It also includes a state-of-the-art equine veterinary center and a haying operation.
“We’re in the grass business, the cows are a by-product of that,” Dickson said. “We are stewards of the land, and if we take care of the grass the grass will take care of us.”
He takes great pride that the cattle at Center Ranch are raised on a high-roughage diet. He said all the feed is mixed in an on-site feed mill, with high-quality forage at the core of the diet. He believes that the cattle they sell each year – including about 700 heavy-bred females or pairs in an annual production sale – acclimate to their new homes better having been raised on the high-roughage diet and have had no issues with falling apart.
Another important component to the herd’s diet is its mineral program. Dickson said he switched over to VitaFerm® products a couple years ago, after they started their F1 program breeding Brahman females to Angus and Hereford bulls. He said the Brahmans are known to be harder breeding females, but after that first season of feeding VitaFerm Concept•Aid®, his conception rates jumped nearly 10%.
“We only used the Concept•Aid mineral on Brahman cows the first year we tried it. I had really, really good palpation – up to 92-94% pregnant that first year, so I put every breeding female on it. I’ve been very pleased,” Dickson said.
He feeds a complete line of VitaFerm products to his cows, starting with Concept•Aid prior to breeding, and he switches them over to VitaFerm Cattlemen’s Blend™ prior to calving. He mass A.I. breeds all replacement heifers using semen from 44 Farms bulls. Then those heifers are turned out with 44 Farms bulls. He has been very pleased with the calves from these matings.
“We like the quality and predictability, as well as the guarantees of the 44 Farms bulls. It’s kind of like mineral; there’s no reason to change, if you’re moving forward with your program,” Dickson said.
“I’ve used several different minerals through the years, but since I’ve been using this VitaFerm mineral I sure am pleased with it. Management has been the same all these years and the only thing I’ve changed is the mineral. If people ask me, VitaFerm is the mineral I’m going to use,” he said.
Yes, progress requires change and the forethought to make those changes. Neither change nor progress has been a stranger to Center Ranch, and the progress will continue in the future.