Largents, Canyon Creek dedicated to quality and customersWritten by Heather Hamilton
Denver, Colo. – David Largent’s family has raised Hereford cattle since 1902 and showed at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo. since the 1930s. According to their website, Largent and Sons of Kaycee strive to be a family business of integrity and loyalty that offers something to everyone in the cattle industry.
Ron Simek of Canyon Creek Angus near Cody started showing Limousin cattle at the National Western in 1980. His son moved to Wyoming in the early 1990s and that led to the purchase of Canyon Creek and their first Angus females. The ranch is back at the stock show as a means of exposure for their operation.
“Attending the stock show is a good marketing tool. People get to see what you have and what you’re raising,” says Simek..
“Showing is a good way to get your cattle seen and get exposure for your program. It’s a really good form of advertising and get’s you out where you see how your cattle compete with other cattle,” says Largent.
This year the Largents are showing two junior heifers, a cow/calf pair, one bull and four additional heifers at the National Western. The family has had the champion cow/calf pair every year they’ve competed, in addition to having a division reserve champion junior heifer one year.
Simek has also enjoyed success at the National Western with his Limousin cattle. He had multiple wins throughout the 1980s and hopes to continue that tradition with Angus cattle.
“We hope to win and will be disappointed if we don’t, but it’s only one judge’s opinion and people will see our cattle either way,” explains Simek.
Largent enjoys the opportunity to spend time as a family showing cattle. His four children help care for the cattle and show in both junior and open classes. “It’s usually adults showing in the open show, but last year my 11-year-old daughter went out and competed against the best of the best in the open show at Denver and won her class. It just depends on the judge and how everything comes together.”
The Largents also put on a Beef Club in conjunction with their county’s 4-H program. “We teach kids how to show and blow and clip and I tell them my kids start at six in the morning and they’re here until seven or eight at night, so it’s a 10-hour day, five to six days a week, and it just blows those 4-H kids’ minds, but we’re together as a family the whole time and we’re able to work together,” says Largent.
Showing cattle comes with a unique set of challenges. Largent explains that everything is more expensive when showing and there’s a lot of hype that goes into it. Cattle are fed differently and pushed to a point that a range producer would neither demand nor usually want.
Simek also finds breeding for a show string to be a challenge. He explains that when you breed for a phenotype that will be successful at a show you contradict what the average breeder is trying to do, which is to keep a herd of a few hundred cows in production.
“If you don’t have a huge bull or heifer they pass you up in a show, but 95 percent of breeders don’t want that. That’s why we aren’t as enthused about showing and are more concerned about exposure and meeting people,” says Simek.
“We do a lot of it because of the kids, it’s a good thing for them to get involved in and it keeps them busy,” explains Largent. He adds that while the family does market some cattle to other registered breeders to show, their bread and butter is in selling bulls to commercial ranchers.
“For us the main thing we’re striving for is to turn out a product that is a well rounded individual that can go out and work for anybody on any range condition,” states Largent. He adds the family has sold bulls to people from across the country, so they have to be able to function anywhere.
‘We have a two-year unconditional guarantee, so if you don’t have a pretty good product you end up turning over a lot of them and you can’t stay in business. We’ve done really well and the product seems to be working,” says Largent.
Herefords are the only breed of cattle the Largents have ever raised, and Largent feels the versatility of the breed is a big advantage for their program. He says they function well in both cold or hot climates and cross really well, adding that being a good cross is especially advantageous in today’s world.
“Economics has a lot to do with it. They convert feed better and are cheaper to raise than just about any other beef breed. In the end it all boils down to the steer. If our customers don’t do well and don’t make a living then we don’t do well either,” says Largent.
Marketing bulls to commercial producers is also the primary focus of Canyon Creek Angus. The ranch held their first sale last March and had several people purchase animals and attend just to see what was offered.
“We sold several bulls after the sale to people who just came to look and most of the bulls sold within a 50 mile radius of Powell,” explains Simek. He adds that in addition to their bull sale the ranch is also planning their first female sale for Fall 2010.
“We were approached by the ‘Denim and Diamonds’ sale last year, but decided to wait until this year to market any of our females,” says Simek.
“The last few years it has been tough to stay in the registered Hereford business so we’ve had to get really good. The guys that are left have really good quality animals for the most part and the breed is on a big comeback,” states Largent.
Pigment is one example of something the Largents are improving within their herd. Largent explains, “One of the things my dad is trying to do is pigmented udders while maintaining disposition and muscle definition.”
Simek says that while their initial herd was purchased, Canyon Creek cows are now the result of personal selection and the difference is becoming more obvious each year. He enjoys the stock show as a means seeing friends and meeting current and prospective clients.
“For us it’s not just cattle, it’s family and a way of life. It all has to go together and if it doesn’t you have to trade something else out. Agriculture is tough enough, but it can’t get in the way of family and the important things. What we try to do is keep it all in perspective and have a good time,” says Largent.