TWO CALVING PROGRAMS EQUAL ONE GREAT RESULT
Written by Lindsay Williams for Western Livestock Reporter.
THE HISTORY . . . Redland Angus is an operation that doesn’t develop its cows with a feed truck to get desired traits. “What helped us was having a commercial background and knowing what kind of cows it takes to make a living in the commercial deal – moderate framed, deep, stout, easy fleshing, good uddered cows requiring minimum input,” said Kendrick Redland owner (along with his wife Sharon) of the Manderson, Wyoming-based purebred cattle ranch.
Redland Angus cattle are hearty cattle built to travel. Kendrick and Sharon are both third generation cattlemen raised on commercial cattle ranching operations in the Big Horn Basin. Always interested in genetics, Kendrick began purchasing a few registered cattle in 1979, started selling bulls to the neighbors and expanded from there. In the beginning it took severe culling to discover which cattle worked. The cows have been selectively pared down over the years and now consists of about 600 head of commercial & registered Angus cattle.
From the operation’s beginning until 1996, all of the Redland Angus cows were spring calving. In 1996 just before time to AI cropped (artificially inseminate), Sharon was diagnosed with cancer. “We were getting burned out on the typical purebred deal anyway – calve early and run them through the barn, ” said Kendrick. The heifers had already been synchronized so they bred them then went to Omaha as the doctors recommended for treatment. With doctoring and surgeries, it was September before they had time to breed the cows. Through the grace of God, everything fell together – Sharon & Kendrick beat the cancer and they began running their registered cows in a summer calving program.
THE CATTLE . . . Kendrick & Sharon don’t have hired hands so minimizing labor has always been their goal. The cows are split into two bunches, around 300 spring calvers & 300 summer calvers. The heifers they bred before leaving for Omaha continued the spring calving herd, the cows begin calving the first of March, the summer cows start calving in June. The only advantage the first calf heifers get is calving in a separate pasture from the cows. “We pay attention to genetics and use a little common sense,” said Kendrick of their choice to use mostly older, proven bulls to avert calving problems. The June born calves are kept on cows as long as possible through the winter, while spring born calves are weaned in September.
Redland Angus cattle are hearty cattle built to travel. The summer cows are grazed out year round and and aren’t fed at all with the exception of Protein block supplementation if the winter gets really tough. The winter and summer pastures are 40 – 60 miles apart. The cattle are wintered on BLM permits and rough pasture then the middle of May are trailed to the Big Horn Mountains along the stock trail between Worland and Ten Sleep. Good structure is a requirement for trailing cattle that far. The cattle spend the summer between 7,000 and 8,000 feet elevation. Being exposed to high altitude weeds out cattle that are more susceptible to brisket disease. PAP testing is performed on the bulls to provide data as a tool for the buyers.
THE GENETICS . . . Redlands AI the summer cows on the mountain for one cycle and then turned out with clean up bulls for a 54 day total breeding season. “All of the genetics we put into either bunch of cows is derived from what works in the June calving cows.” said Kendrick. “When you run cattle like that, Mother Nature will tell you if your genetics aren’t right.
“Everyone can do their own thing, but I think the cow has been kind of overlooked in terms of cost efficiency.” That is why over the years the Redlands have never really changed the type of cattle they raise, believing type is the key to a low cost operation. “We stayed with what worked and built on that.” The first consideration of using any sire is the kind of female he will produce. In the past, high growth bulls have led the Redlands to a lot of culling. “We’ve tried some of the bulls with a big spread of numbers, but they can’t stand the heat when you make them run out like that,” said Kendrick. “The commercial guys get enough surprises in their daily operations and surely don’t need any in their genetics. Commercial cattlemen depend on our genetics to make a living for their families, pay all the bills and send the kids to college. We have an important undertaking, and we’re not doing the industry any favors by covering genetics up with an artificial environment.”
THE MARKETING . . . Calving in two bunches not only helps divide up the labor but also gives the Redland Angus customers a choice between two age groups of bulls. The bulls from the spring calving cows sell mostly as yearlings in the January sale while the bulls from the June calving cows go through the November sale as coming 2-year olds or long yearlings. Sales are held in Buffalo, Wyoming, and sell predominantly to commercial operations in the surrounding five state area.
Overall, the focus for Kendrick and Sharon is balance. “People in the commercial ranching industry have to sell pounds, and the name of the game is cost of production. To keep that cost low, there has to be balance. You have to have calving ease, udder quality and easy fleshing ability to keep labor costs down while still having calves with acceptable carcass traits to get the product sold,” said Kendrick. “We watch carcass traits some, but I think Angus cattle as a whole have always been known to have positive carcass traits.”
While Redland Angus does not feed out any calves, some of their customers have and keep returning year after year to purchase additional bulls, which is proof enough that their calves perform.
Redlands believe the United States is headed for a global economy. “The least cost producer will stay in business,” said Kendrick, “Argentina is producing beef for 40 cents on the pound, and we better get ready to compete with them. That’s why our bottom line has always been cost of production.” They are also working on consistency and efficiency by adding value in traits that add to the pocketbook – longevity, fertility and structure.
Kendrick and Sharon pride themselves on working for their customers and extend a heartfelt thanks to family & friends who have helped them through the years.
BE SAFE & GOD BLESS !