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Wyoming People

Striving for the top: 2XL Cattle Company seeks to achieve the best with bull offerings

Written by Saige Albert

Garden Grove, Iowa – Adam Krull and Amanda Kreuder Krull made the decision to start raising bulls in 2011 with the goal of creating the best seedstock possible.

“We’re really trying to prove that what we’re doing with genetic selection in our herd is right by testing our bulls against the best in the country,” Adam says. “We hope to be competitive with other breeders who have been doing this a lot longer than we have.”

Adam and Amanda operate 2XL Cattle Company out of Garden Grove, Iowa, and they’re working to continue to improve their bulls, though they’ve proven that they can compete with the top producers across the country.

Jumping into the business

The couple started raising bulls in 2011 after they purchased some commercial cattle.

“My wife and I are both large animal veterinarians, and we did some work for some registered Angus breeders,” Adam says. “We were visiting with one of the guys, and he had a couple of nice females he was willing to sell. We decided to buy them, and it snowballed from there.”

After purchasing the heifers, the Krulls began embryo transfer work.

“We used our commercial cows as recips, and we got hooked,” Adam continues. “We hand selected some donors from  several top herds across the Midwest that fit what we wanted to do, and we’ve been using embryo transfer since to really improve the quality of livestock we have.”

Harnessing technology

Adam adds that using technology has had a significant impact on their business.

“Without embryo transfer and artificial insemination (AI), there’s no way we would be where we are today,” he continues. “We’ve also used genomics testing as a tool within our herd, not exclusively, but in combination with good phenotypes.”

By combining genetic tools with traditional visual assessment, Adam says they are able to make great strides. 

“When we find the creatures that have the genomics to match their performance, we have the confidence that we’re doing things the right way,” Adam comments.

Top bulls

This year is the second year that the Krulls have taken bulls to Midland Bull Test, and in their second year, they came out on top.

Lots 670, 671 and 672, which are slated to sell on April 8, hit the second, fourth and fifth place rankings for average daily gain for Angus White Tag Group Two. The ranking gave them the prestigious honor of the World Champion Pen of Three Angus bulls.

“Lot 672 really is our ideal bull,” Adam says.

In developing bulls, he continues, “We’re not specifically targeting one or two traits.”

Adam says their focus on balanced selection for a variety of traits was influenced by both his and Amanda’s experience in the dairy industry.

“My wife and I both come from the dairy industry,” he says. “We’ve seen what happens when people breed for single traits. For years, in the dairy industry, people bred for milk and ended up with cows that had poor udders, poor feet and poor reproduction.”

Adam adds, “We wanted to produce cattle that were not deficient in any trait.”

As an example, he again cites lot 672, a bull named 2XL Generation 5226. The son of VAR Generation 2100 ranks in the top 10 percent of the breed for 15 traits or indexes, including in the top one percent of the breed for weaning weight and yearling weight and top two percent of the breed for all carcass traits.

“We don’t want to focus on just weaning weight, yearling weight, milk or carcass traits,” he says. “We really want to have a nice balance across the board with our EPDs.”

Targeted decisions

To achieve their breeding goals, Adam says that he and Amanda look for targeted matings to achieve balance across the herd.

“We spend a lot of time really looking hard into the numbers to find the mating that would be a good cross for every single animal we mate, using both embryo transfer and artificial insemination,” Adam comments. “I don’t just select one or two bulls every year. I pick six or eight bulls for the 60 cows in our spring herd, and another six or eight for the 60 cows in the fall herd.”

He identifies the areas where each of his cows falls short in terms of genetics, supplementing cows with marbling, rib eye or other traits to create a uniform set of cattle.

“We really want to match what is going to work in the real world,” Adam says.

Their ideal cows are capable of raising a good calf on grass without creep feed throughout the year.

“We spend a lot of time identifying the weaknesses in every single cow to try to enhance every cow and get them on the same plane,” he says.

Outside opportunities

While they run registered Angus and a commercial herd, Adam and Amanda both work for Iowa State University.

“My wife is a large animal internal medicine specialist, so she sees all of the highly complicated animals that are referred to the university for advanced treatment,” Adam explains. “I work in the diagnostic lab at Iowa State University.”

They work doing a combination of teaching, research and clinical work.

Family operation

Adam and Amanda are partnered with Amanda’s parents Glenn and Michelle Kreuder on the operation.

Adam says, “Amanda’s parents really play the most important role on the farm by keeping the cattle healthy and well fed.”

“We wouldn’t be able to keep our full-time jobs at the university without them taking care of the cattle on a day-to-day basis,” he continues. “They’re highly valuable. They do a lot of the hard work.”

As they work toward building the operation, Adam says they’re continuing to gear up the operation.

“We’re getting our website up now, and we’re trying to focus on more marketing,” he comments.

They are also contemplating a production sale, though Adam says they’re working to continue to build the ranch and provide the highest quality animals they can find.

“We hope that people appreciate the fact that the bulls we sell are of the highest quality,” he explains. “The bulls that don’t meet our strict requirements and the heifers that don’t make the grade go into our grass-fed finishing program for direct sale to consumers.  Because we finish our own cattle on grass, we need them to perform well throughout their life and produce a high-quality end product.”

Adam comments, “It’s exciting that we’ve proven what we’re doing is working well. We’re going to continue to move forward and see what else we can do.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at saige@wylr.net.