Most youngsters dream of what they will be when they grow up – teachers, doctors, professional athletes. But for Trey Johnson, Royal, Ark., his dream was to raise cattle. As a kid his dad had a handful of cows, but then decided to build the family home on the farm, tearing out the fence that contained those eight or nine cows, and Trey felt his dream coming to an end. His dad told him if he built a new fence, they would discuss getting cows again. The 14-year-old Trey built that fence, and true to his word, he and his dad met with the local ag teacher, who showed them photos of Beefmaster cattle, and Trey started his cow herd and started showing cattle through FFA.
“I was the weird kid that for my birthday or Christmas would ask for semen for my Christmas present or I’d ask for cows. I never really asked for 4-wheelers or stuff like that,” Johnson said. “And now it’s grown to where we are doing it for a living.”
Johnson runs about 150 mama cows at HJ Cattle Co., which includes registered Angus, Beefmaster and Advancers, a cross between the Angus and Beefmaster. Because he is trying to grow his herd, he sells very few of his females, and primarily keeps them for replacements. However, he markets bulls throughout the year to commercial cattle producers, placing an emphasis on performance data.
All calves go on 60-day feed test, emphasis is placed on birth, weaning and yearling weight EPDs, and all animals are scanned for carcass traits. This fall they partnered with Vaughn Family Farms to have a joint bull sale at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, where they sold 25 bulls for an average of $4,100.
“We can sell to the commercial cattleman who is looking for a bull, and we are giving him as much information as we can for him to be successful through all the data and information. We are trying to take the guess work out of it for him,” Johnson said.
He has initiated a customer appreciation program where he buys back heifers or bulls sired by their bulls that their bull customers calved out, or they help their customers market those calves and get more value for them.
“We are trying to set ourselves apart from others,” Johnson said.
And just like adding value to his customers’ calves, Johnson knows the value a quality mineral program. He is a strong believer in the BioZyme® products and the Amaferm® advantage. He uses a variety of the products throughout the year, and knows that they will keep his cattle feeling and looking healthier, no matter which product line he is using.
“I believe in VitaFerm®,” Johnson said. “If you’re going to be in the cattle business and be successful, mineral is the most important part of what you’re going to do. And I think that VitaFerm is the best around. Not only do the animals stay healthier, they look healthier. If they don’t look like a $4,000 or $5,000 animal, it doesn’t matter. They have to look the part. It helps their hair coat look shiny and look healthier.”
Johnson was introduced to VitaFerm by a friend he met in college whose dad was selling the product, and he encouraged Johnson to try some about 12 years ago. It was a product he tried and he has remained loyal to over time.
“These cows like VitaFerm. If you leave it out there for them, they will level off, so it won’t cost you any more than other mineral, even if the other mineral is a little cheaper,” he said. “My cows are on it all the time. They don’t over consume the mineral if you make it readily available to them. Their bodies will regulate, and they will only eat what they need.”
Johnson keeps his herd on a VitaFerm product throughout the year. He feeds his cows VitaFerm Concept•Aid®. He said he feels if the mama cow is on a VitaFerm product, her calf performs better. Once those calves get about a month or month and a half old, they will try the mineral, and that helps keep them healthy too.
Weaned calves are introduced to the Vita Charge® Stress Tubs, which keep them healthy and reduce weaning time stress. And all calves are grown out on Gain Smart®. Johnson starts making culling decisions when the calves reach a year old, based on performance – both weight and scan data taken into consideration. He says Gain Smart keeps them healthy and helps his calves reach their genetic potential.
“With Gain Smart I don’t have problems with them getting sick when the temperatures swing from 70 during the day to 40s at night like a lot of others around here do. If they aren’t eating, they aren’t making you money. The mineral does what it’s supposed to do,” Johnson said.
And, he even takes his mineral program on the road, using Sure Champ® Cattle and Vita Charge Liquid Boost® on his show string. All show animals at HJ Cattle get Sure Champ pellets in the feedings twice daily. He starts adding Liquid Boost to their water about two weeks prior to traveling to distant shows like Houston or San Antonio to keep his cattle eating and drinking while on the road.
One young boy’s dream has become his reality. With hard work, perseverance and a quality mineral program, Trey Johnson is building his herd one healthy calf crop at a time.