Ranch family uses cross-breeding to meet their needs
By B. Lynn Gordon
Osborne County, located in north central Kansas approximately 50 miles south of the Nebraska border, is also famous for being just south of the geographic center of the United States. The area or rolling hills was settled by early pioneers because of the fertile soils and extended growing season that is fit for good grain production and cattle ranching. Agriculture is the major influencer in the county.
The town of Osborne is located in Osborne County and is where Roger Schultze’s dad, Reginald, started farming and raising cattle along with the help of his father-in-law, James Bealby, in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Times were difficult in those years, but Roger’s dad kept the operation going. Later with his father’s help, Roger and his brother were eventually able to purchased 1,200 acres of land in 1954, which was the start to Roger and his family’s farming and ranching business. For four decades the Schultze operation consisted of all Hereford cattle.
Involving the next generation
As Roger and Rex’s sons showed interest in joining the operation in the 1970s, the family continued to farm and ranch together until the two brothers divided their partnership in 1990 and each chose to farm and ranch with their sons. Roger, his son Kendall and more recently son Wade also joined the operation, called US Land and Cattle, named after the brand of a U over an S. Angus genetics were added into the Hereford herd to focus on the production of baldy cattle. The Schultzes chose the baldy cross because at the time they were in greater demand in their geographic area and it was what the buyers were starting to demand.
“It continues to be one of the stronger crosses in this area,” Roger says. Today Roger and his sons run approximately 650 spring cow-calf pairs and about 100 fall pairs on 8,500 acres of owned and rented pasture land. Angus and black baldy make up 80 percent of the herd and the remaining 20 percent are still straight Herefords. “The boys also manage a neighbor’s herd of 165 and have switched it from mixed breeds to Angus and black baldy using Angus and Hereford bulls,” Roger says.
The focus of the Schultze program is cross-breeding to gain the most heterosis they can from the cowherd by using the different breeds back and forth. The Hereford breed is the basic breed for their cross-breeding program, which they started in the early 1970s. When it is bull buying season they are out looking for top Angus and Hereford genetics and have had good luck finding Hereford bulls from Van Newkirk Herefords located at Oshkosh, Neb.; LeGrand Angus in Freeman, S.D.; and BJ Angus in Manhattan, Kan.
When it comes to bull selection, in order to keep moving their herd forward and meeting the demand of the industry and their buyers, the Schultzes have a list of parameters they look for before purchasing a bull. They study the birth weight looking for ease of calving but are also interested in weaning weight, since they sell their calves at weaning, explains Kendall. They also prefer to aim for a weaning weight of 650 to 700 pounds, and overall growth potential all the way from weaning weight to the yearling weight. In addition, they focus on confirmation of the bulls, disposition such as bulls that will be easy handling and a bull that carries a good hair coat.
Profitability from the herd
Like many herds in that area, first-calf heifers start calving around mid-January, and the cows are bred to calve a month later starting about Feb. 15. Spring-born steer calves are sold right off the cows in November, and those that will remain in the herd are weaned at that same time. They are sold locally at Osborne Livestock Commission each fall, pre-conditioned and identified through a source of origin system of verification tags from Global Animal Management (Tri-Merit). For several years have been purchased by the same buyer Meyer Land and Cattle of Sylvan Grove, Kan.
US Land and Cattle also runs a fall herd for which calving begins in September and October. This offers the opportunity to have another source of income at a different time of year, spreading out the risk. It also makes spring calving more manageable when there is the possibility of inclement weather to deal with. “It’s good to have a chance to calve in both seasons and not fight calving and the weather all at once if we have a difficult year,” Kendall says.
When they are not tending to their cowherd, the family is busy farming. They raise all their own hay and feed for the stock and plant about 1,500 acres of wheat, 350 acres of beans and 700 acres of sorghum. Additional crops that are critical to the feed supply are 300 acres of triticale, followed up with forage sorghum as a second crop, and 140 acres of alfalfa hay. If the weather cooperates and they get enough moisture they try to also put up 400 to 500 acres of prairie hay for winter feed. “We winter our cattle on grass and feed protein and forage as needed and use a year around mineral program of regular and IGR mineral,” Kendall says.
Overall US Land and Cattle are pleased with their choice to run a Hereford-influenced cow herd. “We like the gainability and calmness of our cattle,” Kendall says. “We have worked to build a cowherd that grew from a Hereford base to now a baldy base, and our cattle are very efficient with moderate sized with a weight of 1,100 to 1,200 pounds and it’s good to know that annually for many years our calves are in demand,” Roger said.