That's Some Bull
A Greyhound bus bound for Denver rolls over in Emery County along I-70
|This red Limousin bull awaits his fate at the annual Dean King bull sale in Green River.|
It must be spring if the weather is warmer and flowers are starting to push their way above ground. Another sure sign of spring is the annual bull sale at Clyde and Darlene Magnuson's stock barn. Buyers from throughout the region gathered to bid on some prime bulls. Clyde said, "We initially became interested in the Power Genetics company to offer a better market and a future for cattlemen in this area. Power Genetics works to offer buyers a source verified genetically superior market.
"The producers can get involved in bulls or feeder cattle or both. This program allows anyone wanting to produce better calves to have a ready market for their beef. Producers sell their calves to the feed lots and they sell the cattle to the packing plants. Excel packing is one of the three largest packers in the nation. These packers are in the Midwest and the source verified meat has a large customer base. We want to provide a market for beef producers. We also promote health management and good livestock care. Producers can get information back on their cattle and from that information they can make wise decisions as far as bull buying and producing a better product.
"This type of operation opens opportunities for the producer and guarantees a market for their product," said Clyde.
Darlene and Clyde will be attending a training in Texas where they will become certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to source verify cattle and determine country of origin. All cattle are source verified. Clyde stressed how important having source verified cattle is, "All of the cattle have a paper trail which follows them throughout their life. Their papers go with them to the packing plant. The cattle which are source verified are worth more. An electronic tag is attached to the ear of the cattle and their paperwork follows them. The cattle are shipped in semi trucks back to the packing plant. We have four truckloads leaving this week for Nebraska. We have been shipping 100 semi loads a year for the last two years. We have 30 Power Genetic partners in Emery County. We have really had a lot of support. When the producers begin to understand what we're doing they see the benefits. The cattle can lead a healthier life. We have bulls nationwide from Washington State to Florida. This program gives the small producers of Emery County the opportunity to be part of the big market.
"We have sound businessmen with a sound background and they are always looking ahead to the future. Another benefit is you can hedge on the futures market and this adds protection. You can sell your cattle today with a fall delivery date and with a guaranteed price. For instance, with the September 11 terrorist attack, we had producers who had previously sold their cattle and the company honored their contracts. It was the same with the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) scare that occurred on Dec. 23, 2003. We sent three loads to market and we didn't feel the effects of that scare at all," said Clyde.
Darlene and Clyde are the third leading marketing specialists for Power Genetics in the country. Clyde said, "This is something I dreamed of years ago, to pull together and develop a market and a superior bull and we have been able to do that working with Power Genetics. We sold 9,000 head of cattle out of this area last year and we would like to double that. There are no limits to the opportunities. When the neighbors of the producers we work with see the value of what we're offering then it will grow, one rancher at a time. There isn't a buy-in in the program, you do agree to give Power Genetics the opportunity to bid on the cattle you produce. Most of the people we work with have been very satisfied with the program," said Clyde.
Dean King's annual bull sale in Green River took place on March 12. Bonnie Meyer and Cameron Lyman from Blanding traveled to Green River to pick out a bull. Lyman said, "I am looking for a bull with a low birth weight, with a small head, large scrotum and he has to be black. I look for a smaller bull for my small heifers. Lyman explained that each prospective buyer is given a sheet with all the statistics for each bull. It lists their birth weight, the name of their parents, the bull's current weight or a recent weight, scrotum circumference and whether or not the bull is polled or horned."
Brent and Nadine Peterson from Ephraim were also inspecting bulls this day. Brent said, "I am looking for a bull with a long body length, he has to be a good gainer and I like a bull with a thin front shoulder. This assures easy calving. I want a bull who gains better because we are paid by the pound. There really isn't an exact science to it, but I'll know the bull I want when I see it. I have had really good luck with Dean's bulls, they aren't mean and that's important to me. We sell a lot of our bulls to a feedyard up in Idaho."
Hilda King, the queen of the King cattle operation helped prepare and serve a western lunch to all bull buyers and visitors. Hilda is also famous for her homemade bread and a loaf goes home with each bull buyer. People have been heard to tell Dean, "I don't need a bull this year, but can you send me a loaf of Hilda's bread?" Hilda said, "We are in the 10th year of holding the bull sale, but we have been in the cattle business all of our lives."
Dean said, "I have been working with the Limousin cattle, both bulls and females for the last 20 years; but I've run cattle all of my life. The cattle business has its ups and downs. The Limousin is as good as any cow. They produce lean beef, they are a muscled cow and they show good growth. A Limousin bull will produce a top notch calf. You can put one of these bulls with a mediocre heifer and come out of it with a real good calf. These Limousins don't take second to anybody. They are real feed converters, it will cost twice as much to feed a Holstein for the same gain."
One buyer from Craig, Colo. said, "I pick up two or three bulls each year and have had really good luck with them and Dean will feed the bulls free until the first of May."
Dean said, "This is a private treaty auction with no paid auctioneer, it's a low pressure sale and its worked pretty good. Any bulls that aren't sold, I can sell for meat to a buyer in Denver. We keep bulls for up to five years. If you watch a big bull grow then you get an idea of what the calf will do. Cattle is a tough business to be in but I must enjoy it because I keep doing it. We grow corn and melons for a cash crop and we raise hay. We also have to buy hay. Last year hay was $125 a ton and this year its been $65 a ton delivered. I am also a Vitalix distributor which is a vitamin and protein supplement. We have grazing allotments at the west end of Chimney Rock and the BuckMaster allotment. Last year because of the drought we had to haul a lot of water and there wasn't much feed, so we had to bring the cattle in early.
"We take the cattle to auctions in Salina, Spanish Fork and into Colorado. If you're not using Limousin bulls you're costing us both money," said Dean. Dean and his wife Hilda have nine children and "they are all boys except seven," said Dean.