Cattle producers are looking for ways to make their breeding season as seamless as possible. They typically want a condensed calving period, which means a shortened breeding window. Proper management plays a key role in both the tight breeding and calving periods, and part of that management protocol includes a high-quality supplement program.
Douthit Herefords, Saint Francis, Kan., has discovered that a high-quality mineral program combined with top-notch customer service is worth the investment to have higher conception rates and a shorter breeding window. Megan Douthit-Downey explains what they experienced when they started using VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® Mag/S.
“Our conception rates increased, and the vet noticed we bred tighter when we started feeding Concept•Aid several years ago. We also made several management changes at the same time, and overall our cows seemed more content,” Douthit-Downey said of the registered Hereford ranch she and her family operate in the Northwest corner of Kansas. “What’s one more calf worth? If we get five cows bred 30 days earlier, that is worth a lot. We don’t cull on age, we cull on merit. We have some 12 to 13-year-old cows in the herd and they are bred back for February calves.”
She explains that they turn their bulls out for a 60-day period, and 90-percent will breed for those February and March calves, just leaving a few stragglers to calve in April.
Douthit-Downey feeds more than just one VitaFerm mineral; she feeds a program to ensure her herd gets the Amaferm® advantage all year long. Amaferm is a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed, making sure her herd gets the most “bang for its buck.” Her cows get VitaFerm Cattleman’s Blend™ in the summer months and VitaFerm 30-13% Protein Tubs in the winter. She reduces the stress of weaning and treats fewer sick calves by putting out Vita Charge® Stress Tubs to her weaned calves. And anytime she takes heifers to exhibit at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, they get added supplementation with Sure Champ®.
Douthit Herefords makes sure it is supplementing its cattle properly by testing forages and getting rations formulated to fit the environmental and nutritional needs, thanks to services provided by BioZyme® dealer, Spring Canyon Feeds and Kari Schultz. Schultz will come out to the Douthit’s ranch and pull forage samples that she sends in for testing. Once an analysis of those forages is completed, Dr. Susan Day, BioZyme Formulation & Ration Manager, works on developing rations for the herd.
“We tell her where our hay piles are and what cuttings they are from. She core samples everything and submits samples to Dr. Day, and Dr. Day puts rations together for us. For us, it’s about getting the most bang for our buck. The products are not always the cheapest, and not always the most expensive, but customer service goes a long way,” Douthit-Downey said.
That customer service is extended beyond just forage testing and ration formulation. Douthit-Downey said when she is getting low on a product, she will text Schultz her order. She’ll get a text back within 48 hours of when the product is to arrive at her ranch. She appreciates that delivery service as well, saving her time from going to town to load a truck full of bags of product.
Quality customer service is something that the Douthit Ranch expects; but it provides it to its customers in return. They market nearly 65 yearling and two-year-old bulls and 30 yearling heifers during a private treaty sale each spring. Douthit-Downey said every animal has a predetermined price, so every customer is treated the same and is sold on a first come-first spoken for basis.
“Customer service is all about relationships and trust. We have a bull customer from Iowa that I have never met. He just gives us a budget and tells us his needs, and we send him bulls,” she said.
Building relationships and trust with customers who see value in a mineral program is important to BioZyme, too. With products like Concept•Aid that promote effective, easy breeding, trust is formed, and relationships strengthened.