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Whitman, Neb. – Production agriculture may be one of the most difficult fields a young person could select for a career. Thousands of youth who look at ranching or farming on their own must be prepared for astronomical capital requirements, long hours and days, little time for vacation and few days off.

Once these prospective youth take all that into account, the field of candidates dwindles down rapidly. But there are things a youth who is truly committed to the agriculture way of life can do to make the path a little easier.

During a recent open house at the University of Nebraska Gudmundsen Laboratory in Whitman, Neb., the audience had the opportunity to ask a panel of elite seedstock producers a variety of questions.

Advice for youth

Several high school and college students were on hand that day, and their question for Loren Berger, Jerry Wulf and Jerry Connealy was what advice these ranchers would have for youth starting out in the ranching business.

“It is no mystery that, for someone wanting to get into our business, the capital requirements are astronomical,” according to Berger, a second-generation seedstock producer from North Platte, Neb. at Berger’s Herdmasters.

“For a rancher planning to pass the ranch on to the next generation, there needs to be a written plan specifying when and where there will be a transition in management,” he stated. “Verbal agreements are not good enough. Some type of tragedy will happen, things change and suddenly the operation someone has just invested half their life in will never be theirs.”

Gaining experience

For young people starting out, the panelists agree it is a good idea to get some experience away from the home operation.

“Getting involved with someone else who is doing something similar may be of tremendous value to youth,” Berger told the students. “It allows them to see how other people think and how they do things. It also gives young people some experience they may not be able to get if they go directly to the home operation.”

One problem the panelists pointed out that they have seen over and over again, is in many families, the children feel they are entitled to a higher standard of living and management responsibilities from the beginning.

“Some kids have the expectation that because they are family, they should start out at the same standard of living that their parents took 40 to 50 years to achieve,” Berger said. “That is difficult for some people to accept, but in most operations there is a transition time. There needs to be a willingness to do some sacrificing from the younger generation – not only in terms of economics but also to prove they have what it takes to assume some management.”

“People who are in charge need to give young people the opportunity to make some mistakes, and develop those management skills. It doesn’t just happen overnight, but it is the key ingredient to becoming successful,” he said.

Reaching success

Jerry Wulf was the second generation to manage Wulf Cattle Company, based in Morris, Minn. His father, the late Leonard Wulf, founded the company in 1955. Wulf and his brothers have now relinquished management to the third generation of Wulfs.

“In the last 60 years, we have been blessed with some significant growth,” Wulf said. “But what got us from A to B isn’t the same as what got us from B to C. Going from generation two to three, we found it to be beneficial to separate ownership from management, which means just because you are a Wulf, didn’t make them automatically entitled to management. We didn’t want to restrict new talent, and especially the right talent, from coming into the company.”

Wulf said he and his brothers wanted to set the new generation up for long-term success.

“We have to take more of a business aspect, even though the company still carries the family name and values,” Wulf continued. “It is different for cousins to work together versus brothers. We run our company like a business, and we don’t get buried in the family dynamics.”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shoshoni – Bill Klein has been bringing his bulls to the Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association (WBCIA) Test and Sale for nearly 20 years.

“I started out the first year by taking three bulls to the test,” he says.

Although his bulls didn’t win that first year, they have shown top performance in many sales since then.

“I have always strived for bulls that will perform really well in the test,” Klein notes.

This year, 23 of Klein’s sires are being sold in the WBCIA test, meaning that they performed in the top 70 percent of all bulls tested this year.

He takes his bulls to Shoshoni annually, saying, “It gives me an idea of how my genetics are doing as far as growth and how they will preform against other breeders.”

Bull test

Producers bring their bulls to Shoshoni each year in October, where they are fed a high-roughage diet and tested for weight gain performance over the course of several months.

“We haven’t always won, but we have always been toward the top. That is what we’re striving for,” explains Klein.

Based on average daily gain (ADG) and weight per day of age (WDA) data, the test bulls are scored on an index, in comparison to each other.

“Lot 392 is my best bull this year,” he notes.

Lot 392 is Klein Basin Excitement 9271, sired by Basin Excitement. He was the top scoring bull at this year’s sale with an ADG ratio of 122 and a WDA ratio of 118.

“We have to have a total package bull,” he says, explaining that his bulls should not only perform well in growth but in calving ease as well.

His top bull this year was born at the end of January at 78 pounds. He scored a 0.3 birthweight EPD and calving ease direct (CED) EPD of 11.

The winning bull also scored ultrasound EPDs of ribeye area (REA) I+.50, marbling I+.16 and fat I+.027.

Klein Basin Excitement 9271 wasn’t the only bull from Klein’s herd to preform in the top 70 percent of the WBCIA test. He has a number of bulls that are qualified for the upcoming sale.

“I look at the performance of the bulls, see how they did at the WBCIA test and decide which sires I will artificially inseminate (AI) to the next year,” comments Klein.

WBCIA bulls are tested to ensure that they are BVD free. Further tests include semen testing, PAP scores and ultrasound data. 

Calving ease

“My cattle are known for calving ease,” mentions Klein.

Although not all of his bulls receive qualifying scores to receive the green WBCIA calving ease tags, Klein is confident in his sires.

“I have a few bulls that don’t meet the criteria for calving ease, but I am not afraid to use those in my own herd and on my own heifers,” he says.

Klein brings some of his own bulls back from the test to breed with his own herd.

“I breed about 200 head of heifers every year. I will collect from lot 392 this year to see how his calves come out of my commercial heifers,” he explains.

He sells some of his bred heifers each year, holding on to others to calve out and sell as pairs.

Diverse bloodlines

“I always try to have a selection of bulls, not just one or two bloodlines up there,” Klein notes.

This year’s bulls in the WBCIA sale come from sires such as 7 Z Nebraska 40104, Sydgen Mandate 6079, Klein Danny Boy 1865 and S A V Priority 7283.

“I have several different bloodlines, so I can compare the bulls within my herd, as well as with everyone else from the test,” he explains.

Klein focuses on producing high quality bulls. 

“We aren’t in it to sell a lot of volume. We are in it to sell the best,” he states.

Klein Mandate 4530 scored an ADG ratio of 120, and Klein Nebraska 7412 had an ADG ratio of 118, proving top gain in Klein’s bulls at this year’s sale.

Klein raises his sires on a ranch near Wheatland, running the operation with his father.

“The bulls are my own personal deal, but my dad and I have a partnership,” he explains.

Other business

The Kleins farm about 1,000 acres, run approximately 300 commercial cows and also operate a feedlot.

“We have a 3,000 head feedlot that we background calves in,” he adds.

His cows and calves summer in the mountains west of Wheatland at an elevation of approximately 7,000 or more feet.

The operation runs a set of registered cows, which mother the bulls that Klein takes to the annual WBCIA sale.

“We have about 150 registered cows,” he notes. “We castrate a lot of bulls that many people would probably sell.”

Lower quality bulls are marketed as steers, and only the highest quality bulls are raised to be sires.

“We usually keep back 25 to 35 bull calves each year,” notes Klein.

The top bulls are taken to the WBCIA, where they show their worth and prove their top performance.

“The main thing is, we are raising bulls with low birth weight that will perform well for people,” states Klein.

At this year’s WBCIA sale, 110 bulls will be sold on April 4 at 1 p.m. at Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center in Shoshoni.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Billings, Mont. – The Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) Merit Heifer program is a project designed to help youth get started in the beef cattle business through awarding heifer calves to project participants, says NILE Merit Heifer Committee member Amanda Moore.
“Think of is as a live animal scholarship,” Moore says. “Any youth that is 13 to 17 years old as of Sept. 15, and a 4-H or FFA member may enter. Project participants are selected on the basis of merit, need, future goals and ability to care for the animal.
“Each participant will own their calf jointly with NILE until the completion of the program, at which time NILE officials will sign off and the participant will take full ownership of the heifer and her offspring,” explains Moore.
For the first year, participants are responsible for raising the heifer, arranging for her to be bred, completing a record keeping procedure and bringing the animal back to show at the NILE one year later as a bred replacement heifer. The program is completed after the heifer is determined bred, all record keeping has been completed and the heifer has been shown at the NILE Stock Show.
Producers donate all heifers, and participants rank which breed of heifer they prefer.
“They give you three choices, and put down Black Angus, Hereford and Red Angus. I looked into other heifers that kids were getting through the program, and saw some really nice Black Angus and Hereford heifers, so I put those as my top two choices,” says 2011 Merit Heifer recipient Morgan Flitner of Greybull. She received a Hereford heifer donated by Beery Land and Livestock of Montana.
Flitner heard about the program from two of her older friends who also received heifers through the program.
“I thought it was an interesting and fun opportunity to show at the Wyoming State Fair and the NILE, so I talked to them and decided to apply,” explains Flitner. “I have two Angus cows that I run with my dad’s, and this is heifer is my first step toward a registered Hereford herd.”
“The best part so far was getting the letter in the mail. It was really exciting,” notes Flitner, who was a couple weeks out from selecting a heifer at press time. “I’ve talked to the people who donated the heifer and they were really happy with the program and liked it. They said they’ve had a great time with the kids they’ve given heifers to already,” she adds.
“I’ve always had an interest in youth, and we’ve always enjoyed the NILE and were founding members of it. We decided it was a good way to go several years ago,” says Padlock Ranch CEO Wayne Fahsholtz of Ranchester, of donating heifers to the Merit Heifer program.
“Once we get a name from the NILE we get in contact with each other and talk about goals and plans and set up a time for them to come and select a heifer,” explains Fahsholtz. “We give them the choice of any heifer they want. We’ve found it easier to choose between 10 and 12 heifers, and we have them penned for the recipient to look at. We see if they like one of them, and if they want to go look at others, they can.”
He continues communication with the recipient through monthly reports on the heifer’s progress, and also provides kids with the opportunity to ask him questions. “Most don’t, which is fine, but it’s something we like to offer,” he notes.
“Hopefully they have an opportunity to have a project heifer the following year, and it’s for those that probably wouldn’t have one otherwise, as I understand it,” says Fahsholtz.
Padlock ranches offer red or black composite heifers, and Fahsholtz notes that most choose a black heifer.  
Jessica Pingetzer of Shoshoni and Wyat Griffin of Riverton were also selected as 2011 Merit Heifer recipients. K2 Red Angus of Wheatland, Werner Ranch Shorthorns of Riverton and Paint Rock Angus of Hyattville all donated Wyoming raised heifers to the program this year, in addition to the Padlock Ranch.
For more information on the NILE Merit Heifer Program email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The use of sexed semen in the beef cattle industry may only be in the infancy stages, but it’s growing in popularity as ranchers weigh the economic benefits of using it. Sexed semen could play an important role in how ranchers produce cattle in the future. 

Les Vogler of Vogler Semen Centre in Ashland, Neb. said cattle producers of all breeds and niches – from registered, commercial to club calf breeders – are experimenting with sexed semen. 

“It is more expensive to collect semen and sort it for sex of calf, but producers can use the Sexing Technologies website to access a calculator with formulas to help them determine if it would be economical for their operation,” he explained. 

Using sexed semen

There are many benefits to using sexed semen. 

Obviously, it allows producers to produce cattle of a specific gender to meet current needs and markets. 

However, it can also give producers the ability to raise more heifers from high quality cows, resulting in superior replacement females and donors. 

In addition, higher quality bulls can be produced for cleanup. 

Producers can also breed their first calf heifers, not only to light birthweight bulls, but so they produce heifer calves. The lighter birth weight heifer calves reduce calving difficulties and the labor costs associated with it, in addition to potential death loss, Vogler said. Also, since less stress is placed on heifers, they should breed back sooner. 

Marketing value

Commercial producers may use sexed semen when there is a gender value difference in marketing, such as the premium for steer over heifer calves, Vogler explained. 

“The benefits from cross breeding to capture increases in weaning weights and calves in greater market demand are well documented,” he added. “Using sexed semen in terminal cross production will increase the percentage of higher valued steer calves.” 

An increased spread in feeder price between steers versus heifers could make the use of sexed semen very economical. 

Chris Beutler from Bancroft, Neb. summed it up. 

“Sexed semen has changed the way we do business and also the way we select herd sires. Now we focus on maternal bulls with calving ease. This allows us to breed heifers, not only for calving ease, but also for replacements. Furthermore, it has helped ‘kick start’ the promotion of many of our A.I. bulls, allowing us to gain customers all across the U.S. Also, through the use of embryo transplant, we decide what we want for offspring, whether it is females or terminal show stock.” 

Sexing semen

Since sorting their first batch of semen in December 2010, the Voglers have collected and sorted semen from bulls in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. Being centrally located has been a big plus for the company. 

Bulls must be brought to the facility for collection, Vogler explained. Semen can not be shipped to the Voglers to be sorted. 

“The bull is collected here, then the semen is evaluated and an extender and buffer is added before it is delivered to the Fullerton facility. Temperature control during that period is very important,” he added. 

Once the ejaculate arrives at the Fullerton facility, it takes several hours for the machine to sort the semen. The machine can only sort one bull at a time. 

“Sexing Technologies strives to put out a high quality product with rigid quality control standards,” Vogler explained. “Pre-sexed specimens must be six to seven milliliters with a concentration of no less than 1.1 billion sperm per milliliter and motility over 70 percent.”

“A random straw of every batch is analyzed post-freeze at zero and three hours. Motility greater than 45 percent and 30 percent, respectively, are required and a minimum of 87 percent of the desired gender is necessary to approve the release of the batch,” he continued. “Studies have shown that producers may see a 10 to 15 percent reduction in pregnancy rates in sexed semen as compared to conventional semen.”

Vogler explained that this is due to the concentration of the semen. 

“When the semen is sorted for X and Y, the dead and abnormal sperm is also sorted out. In the end, the concentration is lower, but it is purer,” he added.

Results

Producers can expect the sexed semen to be at least 87 percent accurate. 

“It can be sorted more accurately,” Vogler explained, “but 87 percent was determined to be the most cost-effective break-off point. Bull owners should be able to expect on the average beef ejaculate 120 units of female 2.1 million dose straws and 75 units of male 2.1 million dose straws.”

“The semen is packaged in one-quarter cubic centimeter (CC) straws as opposed to the one-half CC straws used for conventional A.I. This should not require different equipment if technicians are using one-half CC or a universal A.I. gun,” he explained. 

Considerations

Vogler cautioned that not all bulls can be collected for sexed semen. 

“Each individual is different,” he said. 

The time of year can influence whether or not a bull can be successfully collected. 

“Weather has a huge impact, as well as nutrition and the amount of stress the bull is under. We have had bulls that at times have produced a high quality sort, and at other times won’t,” he added. 

Dustin Dean of Sexing Technologies further explained, “A bull that freezes conventional semen may not always successfully produce sexed semen. While every bull’s cells do either have an X-bearing or Y-bearing chromosome, this does not mean those cells will survive the sorting process. Most of the time, if a bull freezes conventional, he will produce sexed semen. Still, we never know until the bull’s ejaculates have been sorted.”

Dean continued, “The sorting process can be stressful, and some bull’s semen is more vigorous than others. About 20 percent of the beef industry’s bulls cannot be sorted, mainly because of variations in semen quality between bulls. 

“However, the more sexed semen is used in the beef industry, the more we will see bulls with high semen quality. A bull’s semen quality can vary throughout the year and throughout the month. The bulls that usually do the best are the ones just coming off cows or ones that are not in a heavy condition,” he said.

Once the semen is sorted for sex of calf, both the heifer and bull semen sort can be used. The semen can also be frozen indefinitely like conventional semen, as long as it is not thawed and refrozen. 

In addition to sexed semen, the Voglers also offer other services at their company. They custom collect bulls and stallions, offer mare breeding services and ship equine semen either cooled or frozen. They can also store semen for customers and ship it anywhere in the United States and internationally.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



semen when there is a gender value difference in marketing, such as the premium for steer over heifer calves, Vogler explained. 

“The benefits from cross breeding to capture increases in weaning weights and calves in greater market demand are well documented,” he added. “Using sexed semen in terminal cross production will increase the percentage of higher valued steer calves.” 

An increased spread in feeder price between steers versus heifers could make the use of sexed semen very economical. 

Chris Beutler from Bancroft, Neb. summed it up. 

“Sexed semen has changed the way we do business and also the way we select herd sires. Now we focus on maternal bulls with calving ease. This allows us to breed heifers, not only for calving ease, but also for replacements. Furthermore, it has helped ‘kick start’ the promotion of many of our A.I. bulls, allowing us to gain customers all across the U.S. Also, through the use of embryo transplant, we decide what we want for offspring, whether it is females or terminal show stock.” 

Sexing semen

Since sorting their first batch of semen in December 2010, the Voglers have collected and sorted semen from bulls in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. Being centrally located has been a big plus for the company. 

Bulls must be brought to the facility for collection, Vogler explained. Semen can not be shipped to the Voglers to be sorted. 

“The bull is collected here, then the semen is evaluated and an extender and buffer is added before it is delivered to the Fullerton facility. Temperature control during that period is very important,” he added. 

Once the ejaculate arrives at the Fullerton facility, it takes several hours for the machine to sort the semen. The machine can only sort one bull at a time. 

“Sexing Technologies strives to put out a high quality product with rigid quality control standards,” Vogler explained. “Pre-sexed specimens must be six to seven milliliters with a concentration of no less than 1.1 billion sperm per milliliter and motility over 70 percent.”

“A random straw of every batch is analyzed post-freeze at zero and three hours. Motility greater than 45 percent and 30 percent, respectively, are required and a minimum of 87 percent of the desired gender is necessary to approve the release of the batch,” he continued. “Studies have shown that producers may see a 10 to 15 percent reduction in pregnancy rates in sexed semen as compared to conventional semen.”

Vogler explained that this is due to the concentration of the semen. 

“When the semen is sorted for X and Y, the dead and abnormal sperm is also sorted out. In the end, the concentration is lower, but it is purer,” he added.

Results

Producers can expect the sexed semen to be at least 87 percent accurate. 

“It can be sorted more accurately,” Vogler explained, “but 87 percent was determined to be the most cost-effective break-off point. Bull owners should be able to expect on the average beef ejaculate 120 units of female 2.1 million dose straws and 75 units of male 2.1 million dose straws.”

“The semen is packaged in one-quarter cubic centimeter (CC) straws as opposed to the one-half CC straws used for conventional A.I. This should not require different equipment if technicians are using one-half CC or a universal A.I. gun,” he explained. 

Considerations

Vogler cautioned that not all bulls can be collected for sexed semen. 

“Each individual is different,” he said. 

The time of year can influence whether or not a bull can be successfully collected. 

“Weather has a huge impact, as well as nutrition and the amount of stress the bull is under. We have had bulls that at times have produced a high quality sort, and at other times won’t,” he added. 

Dustin Dean of Sexing Technologies further explained, “A bull that freezes conventional semen may not always successfully produce sexed semen. While every bull’s cells do either have an X-bearing or Y-bearing chromosome, this does not mean those cells will survive the sorting process. Most of the time, if a bull freezes conventional, he will produce sexed semen. Still, we never know until the bull’s ejaculates have been sorted.”

Dean continued, “The sorting process can be stressful, and some bull’s semen is more vigorous than others. About 20 percent of the beef industry’s bulls cannot be sorted, mainly because of variations in semen quality between bulls. 

“However, the more sexed semen is used in the beef industry, the more we will see bulls with high semen quality. A bull’s semen quality can vary throughout the year and throughout the month. The bulls that usually do the best are the ones just coming off cows or ones that are not in a heavy condition,” he said.

Once the semen is sorted for sex of calf, both the heifer and bull semen sort can be used. The semen can also be frozen indefinitely like conventional semen, as long as it is not thawed and refrozen. 

In addition to sexed semen, the Voglers also offer other services at their company. They custom collect bulls and stallions, offer mare breeding services and ship equine semen either cooled or frozen. They can also store semen for customers and ship it anywhere in the United States and internationally.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SIDEBAR:
Success stories

Les Vogler of Vogler Semen Centre in Ashland, Neb. has collected semen with favorable results. 

Dave Zeis of Zeis Simmental in Valley, Neb. reported, “We had excellent results with the female sexed semen collected at the Voglers. Ultrasound results on 76 head of heifers showed nearly 75 percent conception for the sexed semen, which was equal to or better than the conventional semen on this same group.”

“I will definitely use more in the future,” Zeis added. “The marketability of the heifers bred to female sexed semen should be outstanding, and calving ease will be improved with 90 percent heifer calves born.”


 

Bridger Valley – In the first year of his four-year term on the Board of Directors for the American Hereford Association, Hereford producer Dale Micheli of Bridger Valley says the experience has been both interesting and frustrating.
“Some things are pretty good for the Hereford business right now. Demand is up, and there are a couple of exciting studies on heterosis,” says Micheli of research initiated by the Angus breed. “We cooperated with those studies, which show a benefit for black baldie females throughout their lives.”
Micheli says Hereford bulls are selling well this fall, particularly in the eastern and southern U.S. “We were a little slower going to black cattle in the west, and maybe we’ll be a little slower going back to black baldies,” he notes, adding that some of the south’s interest in Herefords is a Hereford/Brahma cross. “They’re really popular down there, and are selling really well. A friend of mine sold two $9,500 bulls to a Brahma outfit there, and those kinds of things are exciting.”
The Certified Hereford Beef Board oversees the Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) brand, and Micheli is a part of that leadership. “That’s been a little disappointing,” he says. “Business all the way around is a little disappointing, because there are cheaper proteins available.”
The CHB Board works with staff on promotions and developing new products, like the recent Western Ranchero – a marinated Spanish line that Micheli says is selling well.
“We have two packers that slaughter and cerfity the carcasses, and there’s an online CHB, from which anyone can order, and we have several stores and distributors with the CHB brand,” he explains, adding that black baldies can go into either the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) or the CHB programs – they qualify for both.
Micheli is also a part of the Breed Improvement Committee, which he says is another exciting aspect of today’s Hereford breed.
“There’s excitement, but also frustration with genomics and DNA markers,” he says. “Some companies are getting ahead of the game, and selling packages to breeders for genetic improvement, even when there’s no accuracy. We’re not finding consistency for marbling and other traits we already have some EPDs for, but they’re selling them to breeders, and the accuracy is around .0006.”
However, he says the Hereford Association is heavily involved, and he thinks Hereford genetics have a great future. “We have more testing on individual cattle than anyone else, but there’s nothing yet to suggest we have enough accuracy to count on. We’re still doing research and gathering data.”
Micheli says the association’s goal is to have data on every walking herd sire. “We’re asking breeders to send in samples to gather information,” he notes. “If we could find a marker for cancer eye, for example, and eliminate that slight problem in Herefords, that would be great. But for right now, the accuracy is so low and they haven’t found enough common ground yet.”
In addition to his committees, Micheli says the Show and Sale Committee does a lot of work, as well as the association’s Marketing Committee. The association spent three days in Kansas City, Mo. last spring to develop a strategic plan for the next five years.
“We brought in outside help and other breeders to brainstorm and come up with a good plan for the next five years,” says Micheli, who will again head to the 2010 annual meeting the day after the Micheli Ranch’s bull sale in late October.
“The board is made up of a really good bunch of guys, and you’ve got to appreciate them,” he says. “They’re all producers, but one is an attorney, another is a retired three-star general who owns a few cows and is very smart, and another breeder used to sell tires as a huge distributor, so there’s diversity to the board.”
Micheli says he’s attended the Hereford Association’s annual meeting off and on for 30 years, but he’s only been in leadership since he was elected to the board in November 2009. He’ll serve his four years on the 12-man board, which replaces three members each year. He says being elected to the board was a nerve-wracking experience. “I had to give two speeches in front of 500 people, telling them why I was better than the other guy,” he recounts.
In addition to face-to-face meetings, Micheli says he participates in conference calls generally twice a month – one for the whole board and one for CHB.
“Marketing is always the biggest issue,” he says. “I feel like our job as a board is to help the association help our membership sell their cattle, and to get the market share back that we have lost in the Hereford business. The Angus people have done a good job, especially with CAB. They are, by far, the biggest branded product, and there are 40 different Angus lines. We are the second biggest branded program, but Angus just trained sales staff and sent out 300, and we have four or five.”
“My grandfather started with Hereford cattle in 1917, and we’ve had them ever since,” says Micheli of his personal involvement with the breed. “I’m very partial to them, have grown up with them and love them. They’ve been awful good to us, and we still sell our Herefords very well, but not as many as we used to.”
Micheli’s grandfather also started the Southwest Hereford Association, and the family sold their bulls at the Kemmerer sale for years before starting their own sale at the ranch in 1988.
“We prefer their attitudes and disposition,” says Micheli of the breed. “That’s the number one thing. Nothing, no matter what they say about any other breed, can compare to the dispositions of the Hereford. Very rarely will we get a bad Hereford. They’re easy to handle, and they’re good cattle.”
“When we were on top of the world, we were probably guilty of not being hard enough on the bottom end. Probably the best thing that has happened to us is that we’ve had to be very selective, and as a result the Hereford breed has made great strides in quality,” says Micheli, who says he sees the breed’s comeback happening by region. “We’ve seen demand pick up, and we’ll see here in a couple weeks at our own sale. The Angus are still very popular, and they will be, but most herds across America are now black, and they need to look at crossbreeding for black baldie females. There are not enough black baldies out there, and you can about name your price right now. That’s a benefit to us. In our experience with desert cattle, I think that’s still the best cow out there.”
Micheli says he’s pleased that George Oschner and Marvin Berry were nominated for the Hereford Hall of Fame during his term on the board. The two Wyoming producers will be inducted into the hall of fame in November at the annual meeting.
“It is a big honor, and they’re good people, both of them. I’m tickled that it happened while I was on the board, they’re very deserving,” he says.
Of serving on the board, Micheli says, “It’s a real honor, and something I wanted to do. As I watched, I thought I’d like to be involved, help out and do what I can to promote the Hereford breed. I don’t have an agenda – I just want to promote the Hereford cattle that I love.”
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..