Then Go and Get it!

Coming off the National Western Stock Show I must admit that my mind wondered a bit during the open Simmental shows. From the sidelines I watched Lindsay Hall assist her dad John Grimes judge the Simmental shows. Nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than a parent/child combo judging shows.

My mind wondered because I was watching a young woman who has had great success raising and showing livestock, served a leadership role in her junior breed Association, obtaining a Masters degree in a field that years ago many would deem for males, and go on to work for a highly successful Agriculture company.

Now I’m not trying to start a discussion on sexism. There is enough of that going on in our country today. All I want to talk about is the impact woman have on our industry. What many call a glass ceiling in politics needing to be broken has already been shattered in the livestock industry.

As a young girl and still today I idealized and admired Christy Collins. Her class, creativity, vision, and forethought has always intrigued and motivated me. As a young girl I remember emailing (I might still have that email) Christy asking her advice on design, college, photography, whatever she would give me. A few years ago when she offered a seminar in Stillwater, Drew and I attended and soaked in all the knowledge we could from her. Christy has been a leader and role model for woman in the Beef industry for years.

Today as I find my profession grounded in the seedstock industry I am thankful for people like Christy Collins, Rachel Cutrer, Crystal Blin to name just a few who personally have been excellent role models for myself and I know many others. I remember watching the State FFA Secretary Brooke Core Powers speak at my freshmen Greenhand banquet, and I wanted to be just like her. Extremely blessed four years later, I took my place as State FFA Secretary. Growing up in the livestock industry and as a heavily active FFA member, I quickly realized just as I watched others as a role model, I, too had to realize my actions, ideas, and values were watched by those younger than me.

Many can say that the livestock industry professions in the past have been dominated my males. I think of Terri Barber being Chair of the Hereford Board. Is she their first woman? I am not completely sure, but I know that her role intrigues and motivates myself to take on leadership roles in our Association. The Simmental Association has never had a female chair. Tell me that doesn’t have to change!

Across the country more and more woman are judging shows and major shows at that; just as I watched today. They are dominating judging contests, coaching, and taking their rightful place as industry influencers. Young woman are chairing junior breed association boards, and just this past October the first African American young lady was elected National FFA President (along with a very special lady from Kentucky!). There are no barriers or boundaries to what girls can accomplish, and there shouldn’t be anyone to tell them they can’t. In fact, there isn’t anyone who should tell anyone they can’t accomplish anything. Turn those dreams into goals, and make them happen!

I was listening to Oprah’s podcast this morning with Maya Angelou. She was the first African American girl to be hired to drive a street car in San Fransisco, and she was only 16. Her mother asked her why she wanted to be a driver, and she said, “Because I like their uniform.”  Her mom said, “Then go and get it!” Shouldn’t that be what we tell ourselves or those who need encouragement.

Woman are strong, creative, set goals, have vision, and get things done! Isn’t it exciting to think about all the future leaders coming up through 4-H, FFA, and junior breed associations who will be making such a positive impact on our industry. I am lucky enough to call some of the greats friends, mentors, and motivators. Though I am not raising any young girls myself, I am excited to see girls continue to make a mark in Agriculture, and teach my boys the value woman in our industry bring to the table.

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Thoughts on the NWSS female show

The female show is history at the 2018 National Western. If you were in attendance; I realize everyone left with an opinion and I hope it was a positive one. I feel we have as a breed experienced loads of progress and I am positive about the future. The Simmentals breed as a whole is a versatile breed. I have heard individuals say that is a weakness and many say it is a positive. From the ASA and other breeders we refer to having a big tool box with access to
many tools that can be beneficial; however this depends on your needs and your customers needs. So I would encourage old breeders, new breeders, and junior members to continue to educate themselves and their operation on all the programs available by our association. I agree; we at this day and time we have a huge toolbox and many tools to offer our purebred breeders and Commerical breeders. Like any tools some are needed depending on your customers needs and demands, geographic location, feed resources, size of operation and many other factors.

The Denver show judges did an exceptional job. How can you leave Denver and not be excited. Yes, being in the breed for many years we have been faced with challenges and will continue to have those for us and the younger generation. Let’s embrace all the parts of our ever growing breed and make all the individuals involved feel welcome. Don’t be afraid or even hold back on sharing ideas, thoughts, questions, suggestions and recommendations. The opinion is no one will listen however if you are concerned about the future of your operation or your customers please pass on to the ASA staff or a trustee. There is no doubt the position of our breed is good and it will continue with loads of growth.

Remember all the tools in the toolbox are available however with our diverse and versatile breed let each breeder select what is needed.

1/17/2018 Doug Parke

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Reflecting on the past

2017 was a great for the Simmental breed. However, two of the major breeders that were highly active in the show ring, and had a major impact in our breed dispersed their herds. Dispersal sales have happened in the breed since its inception as a breed in the seed stock industry.

Craig Mc Callum at Circle M and his team did great things for the breed in a short period of time. He invested in the breed purchasing top females and bulls that would compete in the show ring and impact their program. While he invested in the genetics, more importantly Craig invested in the youth and the future of our breed. He did this time and time again and probably will continue to do so. At his dispersal his genetics sold well and went across the country. There is no doubt that his genetics will continue to make an impact in the future of our breed. He will be missed however where one door closes and another opens. Again, thanks to the Circle M crew and Craig.

On November 1st the Hudson Pines Farm herd was dispersed In Tarrytown, New York. Whether you were there for the first time or whether you had attended many of the past sales it was a great event no doubt. The HP Forever A Legacy sale was a historic event with a sale gross which exceeded $2.4 million. Just like many of the past sales, Hudson Pines exhibited great hospitality, good food, a great atmosphere and all the staff possessed the same sincere pride, dedication and commitment that David, Peggy and Miranda all expected to the end. In a final farewell Hudson Pines went on beyond the call of duty and hosted a final farewell party at the Rockefeller Playhouse. This was second to none and the breed will be forever grateful for this long time program and the impact they had on the Simmental industry.

Hudson Pines Simmental program was established in 1975 by the late Peggy Rockefeller so they had been the business for 43 years. Peggy dedicated her life to the preservation of agriculture and the advancement of the Simmental breed. Hudson Pines Farm won many shows and awards over the years in the breed; however their contribution to the Simmental Association and the junior programs was unmatched. Their commitment to excellence and giving back was started decades ago.  I personally want to thank again all the people involved not only in the dispersal sale but all the individuals that had worked at Hudson Pines in the past 40 years. Some of those individuals were not born at the start of  HPF and some of those are not with us today. Ryan Haefner in the end did an exceptional job of following out the wishes of others to the end. I know Miranda, John and many others were extremely proud of his job to the end. I am sure Mr. David Rockefeller and Peggy would have been pleased with Ryan and all the staff for the job each did to the end.

On the way to the Hudson Pines, I began to reflect on some of the past dispersal sales over the years.  I as a younger individual was the Manager at Breck Ellison Farms. I know some of the challenges that Ryan Haefner faced on putting on such an event and all the emotions dealing with something you do every day and the dedication to that operation and the breed. After arriving back home in Lenoir City, Tennessee from the show at the Simmental Breeders Sweepstakes the next day Breck Ellison informed me and other staff due to his increase health and heart issues the cattle operation would be dispersed. That was the first week of August and the sale has held December 8th, 1990 at the newly constructed Knoxville Livestock center. That day there were approximately 1700 people at the sale with people watching the auction from a remote tent with two video monitors, another inside and sale arena full of enthusiastic buyers.  That day the sale grossed in excess of million with 160 buyers from 25 states and Canada. Some may reconigize a few names. Volume buyers were Twin Hills Farms and Royal Crown Ranch, Tn. KBJ Ranch, Ohio, Windridge Farms, Iowa, Latta Simmental Ranch, Ark. Woodring Simmental Ranch, Tx. Shawest Farms Alberta, Canada, High Ridge Farms, North Carolina, Triple Creek Farm, Ga, Edward Pierce, NJ. The high seller that day was KBJ That’s My Lady at $40,000.

Over the years, the Simmental breed has really not been faced with that many dispersal sales however here are a few that I have been involved in as a sale manager or sale consultant. The year and order is not exact by any means.

Pine Ridge Southern Heritage dispersal Valdosta, Georgia. 2010

Having a sale in south Georgia in May has some challenges however the cattle were videoed, not run in the ring, and the great group of genetics did extremely well. Several of those genetics still flourish today. A couple of the high sellers were Welsh Dew It Right and Triple C Empriss. What a pretty place in South Georgia and from the highly respected Larry Rogers. Another great event remembered by many.

Remington Cattle Co. Alberta Canada 2011

The Remington Cattle dispersal was a large offering consisting of Angus and Simmental. It was a great event with loads of quality in all breeds represented. The sale consisted of loads cattle however a couple of the best in the sale made their new home to the United States. Lock N Load sold for $47,500 to Lazy H in Ohio and HPF Honey sold for 20,000 going to Lazy H as well. Red Rush sold for 15,000 going to Beshears Simmentals. All those individuals we still here about quite a bit.

Triple C dispersal sale 2009

The Triple C sale was a major event.  Peter Courtney started with his first purchase and building his cattle program at the High Ridge dispersal. Many years in the business Triple C dominated and made a huge impact in the Simmental business. Most importantly Peter started some of the fund raising programs in the AJSA which are still in effect today. If you ever were around Peter Courtney his enthusiasm was contagious and believed in the future of the breed and the juniors that was going to be carrying the touch and be the leaders of tomorrow. His sale that day grossed $1.3 million. The standouts and top sellers still are working today. Remember Liberty, Crazy Queen, No Doubt and others. Some of the volume buyers Damar Farms, Lazy H, Circle M, Moore Land and Cattle, and Remington.

Ray Farms Dispersal, Illinois

The Ray sale was a multi day sale with app 2200 head expected to sell in the 3 day process. Well, that sale had a long list of challenges and one was the weather. A week before the sale it decided to start raining and it did for a long extended time. Corn stalls and bedding was trucked in from the surrounding areas, cows were calving, calves were sick and the sale had a long list of challenges. The sale help was acquired across the country and I mean some of the best cowboys and sale help around at that time.  In the end prices went extremely well and it was great success. I will have to say I was glad to in attendance providing assistance to my friend Doug Paul. I was glad I got to witness. Some people still don’t believe the stories. Some of the stats from the sale were staggering that would sale prices and daily activities of the overall sale dispersal sale process and cattle management. If I remember right the top was $75,000 on a Draft Pick x Meyer cow.

Burns Brand James Burns and sons, Almond, WI. 2007

Many good genetics came out of that dispersal sale. The crowd was over flowing and several breeders purchased animals by the truck load. They ran them thru the ring about as fast as any sale; you had to pay attention that day. Just ask Wesner about that trip.

G and L dispersal, Idaho 1996

The G and L dispersal was held at the Midland bull test center in Midland Montana. This herd of cattle was phenomenal and was well received by many breeders across the country. Rob Laird purchased the calf champion at Denver that year, WLE Power Stroke, he went to Idaho and bred heifers. The sale was Sept 23rd that same year. He was purchased by Cheryl Wagoner in Colorado and went to Denver again in 1997 and was division champion and was in the Phillips Cattle Co string. The other matriarch to leave that sale was G and L Savannah purchased by Triple C Farms. Both of the individuals still influence many herds today. Study your extended pedigrees.

High Ridge Farms Bruce Cuddy, North Carolina. 1994

The High Ridge sale for the times was just kind of stupid and crazy. Bruce Cuddy had assembled a great herd of black cows from all across the country and with most of them originating from west of the Mississippi. The sale consisted of donors, herd sires, cows, breds, opens and everything. This was the first time people in the east had the opportunity to purchase black genetics without traveling west. That day we didn’t have enough cattle for the large crowd in attendance. The volume buyer showed up that day and purchased most of the top lots Peter Courtney later known as Triple C Farms.

P/T Livestock Pete Thompson, Wyoming 1994

This was another special dispersal that was widely attended and was held at the Midland Bull Test in Midland, Montana. The herd was from Big Piney, Wyoming. The herd mainly consisted of red cattle however blacks as well. Many good dependable genetics derived from that breeding program. PTL Red Obession was one of the favorites and she went on to be a Denver champion and produced a Denver champion, WLE CSA Snafu.

Holley Cattle Co dispersal sale, Ohio 1995

I would have to go in storage and find some of my old catalogs however the sale in Ohio went well. Cows sold such as Hearts A Fire, Whitney, Holley’s Polled Ebony and the dam of Moonglow and Elivia. Again, if my memory is correct Greg Burden and I worked as sale consultants and we both had bag phones. We both were pretty cool back then especially Greg on his run with Bad Monday.

NBI Ancel Armstrong, Kansas.

Ancel was an early mover and shaker in the Simmental Breed and was very well respected by all breeders across the seed stock industry. He never had a large group of cows and didn’t sell that many in the end however his semen bank was off the charts with a huge inventory. Bruce Miller got tired of selling semen that day, just ask him. Ancel Armstrong was instrumental in the early years of the development in the breed. On the way to Denver we stopped by and looked at Signal at his place.

Shafer Shoestring Ranch, Minnesota September 2001

Yes, I know what you are thinking. I had the privilege to work Wade Shafer’s dispersal sale in 2001. Not really knowing what to expect and never been to his operation in the end I purchased some of the top lots for different customers in the South and they really did well for those customers. The Shoestring herd had the influence of Black Irish Kansas and 600U and was built on calving ease. Remember Shoestring 600U J107. Remember this sale happened a week after 9-11.

Bozone Ranch David Bozone, Rolla, Kansas. 1997

David Bozone was a great cattleman and was highly respected. His cow herd reflected all that and more at his dispersal sale. Many sharp breeders were in attendance and picked out the good ones. Many of his genetics had some Fleckvieh influence. The top lot BOZ Sweet Temptation was the top sellers going to Triple C Farms. She later became a Denver champion and many of her progeny did as well.  She was a huge influence on that program till they dispersed in 2009.

Nichols Farms Cow herd dispersal, Iowa 10/27/1992

This one of a lifetime sale was a mature cow herd dispersal sale by the Nichols Family. Dave and crew put a lot of time and effort into planning that cow herd sale. The outcome was a huge success. The young Barry Wesner selected several of the elite lots that day and all have been a huge influence on his program and others as well. Those cows went to many great breeders across the country and got involved into embryo transplant programs and flourished even more. The impact cows from that sale were Joliette 107W which produced the JBH Sheza Dandy which no doubt is one of breeds best ever. Another great was Nichols Joliette C75, the dam of the WLE Power Stroke. A few years ago Dave Nichols was inducted into the Saddle and Sirloin at the NAILE. He invited Drew, Holli, and I out to the farm to pick a female to be auctioned off for the Foundation.

Latta Simmental Ranch, Lincoln, Arkansas

The Latta herd was a superb program that was backed by many show champions and elite donor cows. Rex Allen was head of the show team. The dispersal sale was a big event that was a big time success. There program was admired by many.

Woods Knoll Farms, Alabama

Woods Knoll dispersal sale was held at the Cullman stockyards. The sale consisted of fullboods with Fleckvieh influence. They were a high respected fullblood operation and had many successful sales prior to their dispersal. Some of the top lots that day were purchased by Champion Farms in Ohio.

Faulkner Farms, Alabama 1997

Jim and Rose Faulkner dispersed their small herd in Alabama. In the early years they had a sale which was called the Southern Gentlemen group. Those cattle were red and white and consisted of fullboods and purebreds. That year I purchased a 1200 open heifer off the side of a cow and that was one that ended up as Holli’s show heifers. Later as a Sr yearling she was 3rd overall in Columbus Ohio in 1998. That is probably the last year a tradition colored heifer to be in top ten.

Kintyre Farms, Gloster, Mississippi.

Colville Jackson was a promoter extraordinaire. He was a true southerner and was good at many things to raising flowers, dogs and cattle. Colville was one of the original founders of the Simmental Breeders Sweepstakes and his cattle dominated the show in the early years with the assistance of the legendary show person Knic Overpeck. The sale was a big success. The couple funny notes is to hear a chain saw running and repairing boards on the alley coming into the sale. The other thing was Colville always talking so finally Merrill Anderson auctioneer just un plugged his microphone. It took Colville several lots till he noticed.

Stagg Cattle Co, Mt Pleasant, Texas

Dr Gerald Stagg dispersed his herd which consisted of Simmentals, Sim Angus, Fleckvieh influenced, Red, Black and some outstanding Simbrah. Some of his  Simbrah genetics are the base to genetics that are still instrumental today.

National Double R Bar Richard Betterton.

That catalog is in the archives however back in those days Richard herd consisted of fullbloods in central Illinois. I think John Caviness and AL Vary were in attendance.

Happy Valley Ranch, Athens, Texas

Sambo Sewalt as manager was a good cowman and was highly respected as they come. The beautiful ranch in east Texas always had great sales and it was no different when Bill Breedlove decided to disperse the herd. Do you remember the Fenella cow family and all her descendants? One of the best herds of fullbood cattle in the day.

Mille Cent Ranch Bob Messer, Tx.

The Mille Cent herd was dispersed in Stafford, Missouri. Bob Messer’s breeding was always somewhat old school Fleckvieh genetics. Stanley Stout was the auctioneer that day in which he and Doug Paul got passing notes back and forth on matter on a potential buyer. Lucky Doug Paul come thru in the end. Stanley was a great auctioneer however always added some humor to any event.

Taylor Black Simmental dispersal sale, Kansas

Jim Taylor was one of the early leaders in black Simmental and the promotion of Black Irish Kansas which he bred and raised. Black Irish Kansas was sired by Irish Black Knight owned by NBI Ancel Armstrong. Black Irish Kansas was born in 1990.

Kieckhefer Simmental, Paris, Ky

As a young herdsman and show barn helper, I as employed by Kieckhefer Simmental. I worked four summers while going to college. After completion of college at Eastern Ky University I accepted a full time position.  I worked three summers and six years after that. Working with Simmental cattle and the people is what I envisioned for my future however at the time most young people and ag kids worked to put their way thru college. Like most I personally didn’t have a long term plan. The Kieckhefer herd at the time was well known for its breeding program and long list of show champions. The dispersal consisted of some of the first homozygous polled fullboods. The two day dispersal sale was held May 29 and 30th, 1981.

I hope some find this helpful and or interesting and I am sure I missed some other notable sales. Please reflect on the past to see the changes in the breed that several have witnessed over the years. We have come along way and hopefully the younger generation and new breeders today will understand and realize the great strides we came as a breed. We have a great breed of cattle. Remember this is 50th Anniversary of the Simmental breed. We will still be faced with challenges, changes both good and bad and no doubt the Simmental breed will continue to flourish and prosper. We hope you are a part of it.

1/21/2018 Doug Parke

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Innovator: genetics meets the showring

As I sit on the airplane headed back to Kentucky, the National Western Stock Show in Denver is now over. The Percentage bull show on Tuesday was won by CDI Innovator; owned by Wayward Hill Farms, Dr. Henry and Chris Allen and JS Simmental, Ken & Claudia, Jay & Dani, Scott & Amy, and of course the grandkids.

Both members went to North Dakota to look for a bull to add to and benefit their programs. After looking through the CDI bulls, they both ended with same bull and decided to partner. Both operations at the time of purchase had no intentions of showing this herd bull. Innovator was liked by many others throughout this past year, and has already been utilized in herds across the country. We saw him this fall just after he had been on on cows, and he was very impressive, not only in person but on paper as well.

I am not speaking for the C Diamond program; however I would guess they did not think they were selling a Denver champion at the time of the sale. C Diamond has been a long time Simmental breeder of bulls and females that add great value to someone’s herd. This past fall, they had a special female sale which they don’t typically do. A sale which offered maternal genetics to Innovator.

The buying process is to purchase bulls and genetics that you feel will help make genetic progress and add to your existing program. So look at the end results and how our breed and breeders continue to flourish and gain market share. CDI Innovator was bred to add value both through EPD’s and genetics, and profit to his calves. Did JS and Wayward Hill believe that might come with a purple banner? At the time of purchase, maybe not, but due to their purchase for the betterment of their program, and their patience on a maturing bull; they leave the National Western with one.

CDI Innovator is collected at Nichols CyroGenetics, and can be purchased by calling their office.

Congratulations to all that exhibited at the National Western. It was one of the best bull shows the Simmental breed has had there in the last several years.

Written by Doug Parke on 1/17/18

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Marketing at Beef Expos

By: Garrett Stanfield, DP Sales Intern

As the 2018 calving season begins, and you wrap up your planned matings for the fall calf crop, there are certainly a number of questions going through your head. Ideally, one of those questions is “where will I market these new genetics and my previous calf crop”? Establishing a marketing plan for your herd is of the highest importance to ensure your operation is able to thrive.

As a producer, you have several options to market your genetics. You can choose from online sales, private treaty sales, live auctions, and more. Furthermore, there are a variety of considerations to take into account when making your final decision. These considerations often include things such as, which choice will generate the most exposure for my operation, which one best fits my scope as a producer, and which one will generate the most revenue. As you consider your options, we hope you will consider consigning some of your most elite to a beef expo.

Reviewing the considerations, beef expos are able to contribute to each mentioned item. Beef expos are often considered one of the best sources to obtain some of the best genetics in the country. Consigning your cattle to a beef expo allows you to showcase your genetic base to potential customers across the nation, and offers the potential to expand your clientele in to the future. Your cattle and genetics are on display for stockmen from different segments within the industry, including both the commercial and seedstock sectors. Additionally, beef expos are able to benefit producers with any size of an operation. They allow producers with small herds to bring their most elite and establish a reputation within the industry, but also allow larger producers to showcase some of their best to expand their customer base. While beef expos often generate added interest for cattle across the board, it is the responsibility of the producer to ensure that they consign a quality animal or genetic lot that will command an equally good price. As you continue the day to day tasks associated with livestock production, it is important to establish a marketing strategy. As you finalize that plan, we hope you will consider consigning lots to an upcoming beef expo this spring!

To nominate an animal for the spring expos please visit our website.

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Family Ties

It’s an exciting weekend for the Simmental breed in Iowa this weekend. Iowa has a long standing history of producing great Simmental genetics, and great families that have roots deep in the breed. The Steenhoek family of JS Simmentals is no exception to that tradition. One of the things you have to love and appreciate about the JS Simmentals operation is how much of a family affair the cattle operation is. It’s refreshing to see an entire family breeding cattle, enjoying time together, traveling the country, and marketing their genetics. 

Today we sit down with Jay Steenhoek, the oldest of Ken & Claudia’s children to learn more about their families over 30 years in the Simmental business.

The Steenhoek’s have been raising Simmental cattle under JS Simmental since 1985.  My Dad (Ken) always used Simmental bulls on his commercial cows & just really liked the breed.  We purchased 2 Purebred Simmental heifers from Brad Sweeney, Truro, Iowa for my (Jay) 1st 4-H project. The purchase that changed our program came from Triple C Farms, Wisconsin. We purchased our Triple C Burning Power donor.  Burning Power is still alive, we still flush her & she continues to run in our pastures.

As they continued to grow and produce outstanding genetics, it was obvious to them it was time to take it to another level. We got involved in a number of consignment sales & felt it was easier to have our own sale about 8 years ago. The Midwest Made Sale hosted at the Hansen Center at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa will be held this Saturday, October 21st at 5PM. They strive offer an elite group of PB & Sim/Angus females that will thrive in the show ring & the pasture.  They want to create a positive market atmosphere at our sale, which is easy to see by their hospitality and presentation of the sale animals. They always want to be helpful to customers anyway possible.

Everyone who has a sale knows that it is not only a lot of work, but it is also very rewarding for your program. The success of our first sale in Ames  stands out as a memorable moment for JS Simmentals.  It encouraged us to continue to strive to produce superior genetics for our customers.

The Steenhoek family hosts their sale at the Hansen Center in Ames, Iowa. This means they have to haul their cattle, feed, tack, and family to the sale. Hauling my mother’s décor (junk) takes up a whole trailer (according to my Dad).  In actuality preparing at home plus transporting equipment & cattle 50 miles to the sale site in Ames can be the most difficult.  The best part is socializing with old & new customers, seeing juniors eagerly choosing projects for the coming year & just the excitement of the auction.

Family ties run strong.  It’s a joy for Grandpa & Grandma (Ken & Claudia) to watch the three grand kids Chesney 11, Coy 9 & Grady 6 excel in the show ring which reinforces their hard work in the barn.  Scott, Amy, Dani & myself share the spotlight as well, each of us assuming tasks that lead to success in the show ring. Ken’s world revolves around cattle & taking road trips to find “that special one”,  while Claudia finds “that special antique.  Jay & Dani love the bull stud business at Nichols Cryo-Genetics, Inc. & also enjoy time with friends, camping, the Iowa State Fair, & taking kids to sporting events.  Scott & Grady enjoy time on the golf course, little league & time with friends.  Amy shares the passion for cattle & shows like her Dad, but also enjoys time with friends & sporting events for Grady.  We all enjoy the athletic events the kids are involved in – travelling weekends to baseball, softball, wrestling, football & basketball.

Our extended family includes these people behind the scenes who help daily or part time making sure JS Cattle are at their best.  Dwayne Bos, JR Spear, Derek Counsel, Jamie Flynn & Ross Anderson.

To the consignors both past & present, we say “Thank You” for sharing this sale experience each year with us & for bringing quality cattle to offer.




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Under the lights in West Point

Growing up as an AJSA member, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, and make some great friends. As you age out of the AJSA and enter “adulthood” it is fun to carry those people with you as you take on the real world. As a junior member, I met Eric Gerdes from Iowa. Obviously, dad had met and known him for years as he was showing, but I remember meeting Eric has he served at President of the AJSA Board of Trustees. Being an over zealous AJSA member,  I was excited to know a President of the board.

Now years later in the adult world, we have the opportunity to work with Eric Gerdes and his wife Tara, their operation, and sale group with the Buckles & Banners Sale. Eric & Tara are excited, young Simmental breeders working hard to produce great genetics and host a high quality evening of cattle and hospitality. As we have been doing this fall, today we would like to spotlight Gerdes Show Cattle and their upcoming sale on Friday night, the Buckles & Banners. 

Eric bought his first Simmental heifer in 1991 at the Hawkeye Simmental Sale in Bloomfield, Iowa. His cousins and older sister had been showing Simmental steers from a local breeder in Southeast Iowa, so they had already had some success with Simmental breed. In 1995, Eric purchased RS Red Lace from Brad Hook and Denny Drake. This was the first year he was able to go to the NWSS and attended his first Simmental Junior Nationals in Minnesota. That heifer went on to win the Iowa State Fair and from that point on he was hooked on Simmentals. Of course, from my history earlier you know that Eric was a successful and active AJSA member.

They hosted the first Buckles and Banners sale 6 years ago, and it is their favorite time of the year.  It is the completion of all the hard work that comes together for everyone to visit and enjoy the fun and good cattle! Prior to that they had consigned in many sales, including the Midwest Made Sale. Eric and Tara decided that they had enough numbers and were wanting to increase their cow herd, so they choose to have their own sale and created a very beneficial partnership with the Owen family. Owen Brothers consigns cattle to the Buckles & Banners, and then in the Spring, Eric and Tara take cattle to the Diamonds & Spurs Sale. 

Along with his wife, Dr. Tara Gerdes who owns Lee County Veterinary Care, they have 2 young children, Jaren (7) and Brystol (3), who keep them very busy! A great blessing to Eric and Tara are to have their parents and families close and involved in the cattle business. Tara’s dad Dusty Wellman is also a consignor to the Buckles & Banners, and Eric’s mom is lead decorator for the sale.  Anthony and Ami Walton joined Gerdes Show Cattle 4 years ago and have become a major part of their team and extended family, their hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated!

Eric and Tara are both St. Louis Cardinals fans and enjoy trying to make it to a few games every summer. Eric also  enjoyed hunting and now Jaren has started to enjoy it, so he is looking forward to spending more time teaching him.

We hope that you can join Eric and Tara along with the rest of the Buckles & Banners consignors on Friday evening in West Point, Iowa. Make sure you come early for dinner and plan to stay for the great fellowship and hospitality after the sale. It’s a truly unique event of the fall, and they work hard to offer the sparkle and shine you need to add to your operation.




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Online at Windy Ridge

The blog today jumps from the live auction world to a world centered around the click of the mouse; online sales! With the growing response to online bidding, and being able to serve our customers no matter how large or small operations; we decided to jump into the world of online sales. Tom and Kristi Rathje of Windy Ridge Simmentals have been great clients to DP Online Sales, and we enjoy working with them for their online sales twice a year in March and October. Their online sale Oktoberfest at Windy Ridge Simmentals opens today on DP Online Sales, and closes tomorrow evening at 8PM EST. They had a great open house this weekend at their farm with lots of visitors and great hospitality. 

Take a moment to get to know Windy Ridge Simmentals, their program, and their online sale open now.

Windy Ridge Simmentals was founded in 2004 by Tom and Kristi Rathje, along with their children Katie, Grant and Josie.  As youth, Tom and Kristi were both involved in their family’s purebred cattle operations and were anxious to begin their own operation that not only afforded their own children the experiences associated with livestock production, but also assists other youth in this industry.

Both Tom and Kristi attended Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska, with Kristi completing her B.S. in Animal Science and Tom his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in livestock genetics and an MBA degree. Kristi is the operating manager for Windy Ridge and is the primary contact for sales and customer service. Tom spends his daytime hours as the Chief Technical Officer for DNA Swine Genetics where he is responsible for the genetic improvement program and implementation of new technologies in the nucleus herds. Improving genetics is a part of everything we do and a lifelong passion.

After becoming discouraged by the lack of land availability and affordability near Seward, a neighboring community of Lincoln, NE, Tom and Kristi took a leap of faith and purchased their first two Simmental heifers in the fall of 2004 in the hopes that God would provide a solution.  Within a month, a 40 acre piece of land became available and was purchased!  The first and most notable donor purchase that changed our operation was KA TCF Independence S30L, who carries on her legacy as one of the highest number of progeny registrations in the Simmental breed.

Windy Ridge strives to produce cattle that have the ability to help you achieve your goals. Few things are more important to us than customer success. Whether you define success in the show ring, the donor pen or in fulfilling your production goals, we produce the type and kind of cattle that will help you to be successful. Customer service, earning your trust and ensuring your satisfaction are very important to us. At Windy Ridge Simmentals, you will be treated with respect and will find a group of people who love to talk cattle and find ways to help you be successful. We recognize and support the youth that are the future of our industry and do our best to assist them in any way possible. We stand behind all the cattle and embryos we sell, so you can buy with confidence.

Tom and Kristi aim to stay very progressive in their operation, and utilize social media, advertising, and marketing to promote their operation. As their operation continues to grow, the online sale avenue began their sale journey. They started the ‘March Madness’ online embryo auction in 2011 and is still held every March, now hosted by  The inaugural ‘Oktoberfest at Windy Ridge’, featuring mostly open heifers with some embryo, bull and donor lots, began in 2016 and is held the 3rd week of October. Taking the online sale route is not without its obstacles. They find that the most difficult hurdle with an online sale is gaining exposure and awareness since a full-scaled catalog does not get delivered to your target customers.  The advantages of an online sale are that it is a better-suited sale format for businesses that have smaller numbers of select genetic opportunities and, buyers have the convenience of viewing the sale and bidding from their home or on the go. Online sales are an excellent platform to market genetics for all sizes of operations, but are a real advantage over live auctions for small to mid-sized producers. Reduced sales costs and the ability to have several marketing opportunities throughout the year are the most notable advantages for our operation.

We all know that the cattle business is much more enjoyable when you can share it with your family. Tom and Kristi have three children: Katie, Grant and Josie, and two grandchildren: Charlotte and Samuel.  Katie and her husband, Kaleb, live in Orange City, IA where she is a nurse at Orange City Area Hospital and he is a Sr. Marketing Manager with Staples Promotional Products.  Grant is a field rep for Elanco Animal Health and remains very active in Windy Ridge’s daily activities.  Josie is a Freshman at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and loves to work with the cattle when she has free time. Besides attending as many cattle sales and shows as time allows, we enjoy spending time at the lake and boating during the summer months with family.  Grandchildren are a great source of joy and we always look forward to spending time with them, watching them learn and grow.

Tom, Kristi, their family, along with their herdsman Stewart Hardin invite you to contact them at anytime to discuss their operation whether it be the Oktoberfest or future genetics. Also check out their newly updated website ( and find them on social media under Windy Ridge Simmentals.



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23 and counting

This weekend we are once again celebrating a sale and operation that has been in the Simmental business for over 20 years. Saturday, the New Direction Sale and the Sloup family will be hosting their 23rd sale at the farm in Staplehurst, Nebraska.

The Sloup name is familiar to many of you watching sale reports and attending to listening to sales. It is without a doubt that Sloup Simmentals is one of the most supportive operations when purchasing cattle. No matter if it is a junior member selling a heifer or a big time operation; from New York to Colorado and everywhere in between Sloup Simmentals’ supports the Simmental breed while assembling some of the top genetics in the breed.

The research began many years ago for the Sloup family as they were deciding what breed to purchase. Being from Nebraska, they looked at Angus and Red Angus before purchasing their first Simmentals in 1982 from Bruce Winther and Mike Loy of Iowa. In 1994, Sloup Simmentals decided they had enough numbers to justify having a sale each year, and the New Direction was born. Today, the Sloup program hosts two live auctions; the New Direction in October and the Spring Turnout in May with partner Hilltop Simmentals. Throughout the year, they host 3 online sales: The Sloup & friends Winter Event, Sloup’s Summer Splash, and St. Nicks Eggstravaganza. The goals of Sloup Simmentals continue to be the same, assemble some of the top cow families, to offer top genetics both percentage and purebred, and for their buyers to have great success with their purchases.

In 2005, Nick purchased SVF NJC Magnetic Ldy M25 from Sunset View Farms, and elevated their program to a whole new level. Magnetic Lady; who is Nick’s third love after his wife and kids, is the cornerstone of their program. She has 151 progeny on report with the American Simmental Association, and they have had great success with daughters, granddaughters, and bull progeny for many years. This year they are offering a flush or IVF cycle on SS Windsong, daughter of Magnetic Ldy.

Though it may seem like after 23 years, one might get in a routine after having a sale at the same time, same place every year, but that’s when one becomes complaisant. It takes a lot of preparation and narrowing down what to offer; which for Nick is hard. He is always thinking of what to do next, what to market next, and unique ways to do that. At the 20th anniversary of the New Direction, we had a surprise lot that was unveiled on Friday afternoon before the sale; she too was a daughter of the matriarch Magnetic Ldy. As soon as the sale is over on Saturday, Nick will begin brainstorming and preparing for the 24th annual New Direction in 2018.

So when you have had nearly 23 sales, how do you pick a moment or sale that sticks out in your mind? Questions like that are always easy for Nick Sloup. The 20th anniversary New Direction Sale was very special. We had a great crowd, great sale, and beautiful weather. 20 hand picked donors and cows led the first 20 lots in the catalog, we sold Red Jewel for $46,000 and even pulled off a surprise live animal lot.

It’s not all hard work and no enjoyment though. Meeting and visiting with customers is what Nick says is the best part of having a sale. Unless you travel to Seward, Nebraska you probably won’t meet Nick Sloup. He is always busy working on the farm, and attending the activities of his 5 children (and soon to be first grandchild). Though Nick doesn’t attend many Simmental functions in person, many of you might have talked to him on the phone. Nick believes greatly in customer service and the best person to sell your cattle and operation is yourself because you know them the best. I’d hate to see his phone bill the month or two leading up to the sale.

Gosh, with 5 sales and purchasing cattle from all over the United States, it must take a small army to keep things running. Good thing the Sloup crew is a small and mighty army lead by matriach of the Sloup family, Shirley. Shirley Sloup is Nick’s mother and cattle partner. Not only does she provide endless love and support, but she is a great heat checker too! Nick’s brothers Scott and Bill are fixtures on the farm daily, and both own cattle. The Sloup men are lead by a great sister Susan. Of course, Nick needs someone to keep him straight and that is where Andrea comes in, and 5 children Shane, Shelbi, Brevin, Natalie, and Haylie to keep him hopping. In December, Nick and Andrea are expecting their first grandchild for Shelbi and her husband Jackson. 

Nick is a positive advocate and cheerleader for the Simmental breed; perhaps the biggest I know. When fads run through the breed, Sloup Simmentals continues on the course to raise cattle that meet their three goals, and market top genetics across the country to a large number of buyers. No one likes or remembers a story they read once and never again; the same goes for buying cattle. Customers who become repeat customers are the story of your operation as they continue to come back year after year, sale after sale. That is what makes a book a classic, and that is how you have a sale for 23 years.



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Celebrating 20 years

I love celebrating. Events, birthdays, anniversaries, good news; whatever it is, I love to celebrate it. I’m known to send a lot of cards, random presents, and flowers. I get it from my mom, Debbie. She has always been a great customer of our florist sending flowers when someone passes away to show she cares. I think that celebrating events in our life is a great way to be fully engaged in what is going on around us, and to those important in our life.

It isn’t everyday that you find a cattle operation or sale that has been going on for 20 years. In today’s world, people get interested in something and then shortly thereafter they move on to something else. Though there has been many changes over the year with the Belles of the Bluegrass, the same principals are still valued by everyone involved in the sale.

What I think we don’t do enough is recognize the people involved in the sale. Potential buyers and customers come to sales; many times to someone’s farm, but they don’t get the opportunity to learn about the people; the families involved. Therefore to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Belles of the Bluegrass tomorrow please take a few minutes to learn more about the families that make up the Belles of the Bluegrass. Their families invite you to join us tonight for dinner at a presentation by MultiMin USA at 5PM, and tomorrow to celebrate 20 years of selling Simmental cattle.

Reality Farms :: The Jackson family

Reality Farms is a family beef business spanning four generations of beef production.  Our primary focus is to provide quality cattle with data to enable customers to evaluate and decide the best selection for their herd.  We A.I and Embryo Transfer most of our cattle.

We are a typical farm family that has been involved with 4-H for decades.  Our three children competed with cattle all over the USA and we managed to get them to the events.  Team work is the essence of our business; AI, checking cows, delivering calves, chores, baling hay or whatever it takes to keep the business productive.

Matt is the only one to graduate in Ag. but our daughters are teachers and they never miss a chance to enlighten their class about agriculture and cattle.  Traci, Matts’ wife is a dental hygienist and has a captive audience while she works on clients.

Matt has always loved working with cattle and people.  He has started a new business to market cattle. He and his dad manage Reality Farms herd of about 200 head.  We have a spring and fall calving program.  Matt also provides cattle photography for catalog sales and ring man services at various breed sales.

Matt and Traci added a new generation to our family last January.  Her name is Maddox.  Our Grandsons are in high school and college and the eldest just graduated and married this summer.

We have been involved with the Belles and Bulls of the Blue Grass sales for several years.  The Simmental consigners are very easy to work with and have a genuine interest to provide good quality cattle for the sales.

Misty Meadows Farm :: Rondal & Judy Dawson

Misty Meadows is owned by Judy and Rondal Dawson. We have 177 acres. The farm is located in Shelby County between Frankfort and Shelbyville. Judy and I worked for Kentucky State Government. I worked as an engineering technologist for 36 years and Judy spent 33 years in personnel management. We both have been retired for 16 years. We have one son, David, and two grandchildren, Ben (15) and Abby (13). My hobby is raising Simmental cattle and Judy is involved in activities at church. This will be my 12th Belles of the Bluegrass. I still thank Dr. Fred Swain for inviting me into the sale. I have 42 purebred Simmental cows. You could describe my herd as being production cattle. We try to sell cattle that will calve easily, put on pounds and are docile. I enjoy being part of the Belles group. I think this is a group of breeders that sell high quality cattle and back up what they sell. I like talking to the buyers and have made some really good friends over the years. I hope with our new location, we will bring new interest and new friends.

Ratliff Cattle Company :: The Ratliff Family

Ratliff Cattle Company; I have been with the Belles’s group for three yrs ; I run 25 Simmental females and 35 angus females ; I try to concentrate on improving overall genetics by seeing what each female needs to increase her offsprings EPDs and choosing AI sires that may help these numbers : Trying to maintain a good body Size at the same time : watching calving ease and trying to get as much weaning as possible. I’m a Dentist and cattle producer. I have a Great wife Beth Ann that is also a Dentist and my business partner. I enjoy being apart of the Belles group because of the great Breeder involved with that program. Good bunch of men and women.

Swain Select Simmentals :: Fred & Phyllis Swain & family

This is our 20th with the Belles and Bulls of the Bluegrass as one of the original founders.  The Belles and Bulls sales were initiated with the intent to provide a quality  group of cattle with sound pedigrees for both the purebred and commercial programs.  The group of participants are interested in our customer’s success. Swain Select Simmentals have about 35 select cows calving yearly with an emphasis on cow families.  We focus on select production cattle and a balance of good phenotype and EPDs.We utilize some donors and embryo transfer for selection of superior performance.  Our focus is with production of females and bulls to move the Simmental and beef industries forward.We utilize primarily AI breeding, again, to produce the best and to bring new genetic superior markers to compliment our females.  We like caving ease but with growth for our customers.I enjoy the Belles/Bulls because the group is cooperative and tries to support each other as a common bond with consideration and respect for the advantages of each individual program.  We have an intent to bring our best to our customers.  Each participant brings their own unique cattle advantage to the group. Phyllis and I enjoy the practice of pediatric dentistry and what I feel is the advantage to the child.  We blend that passion with our second passion occupation of the cattle, the people of the cattle and probably most importantly the Simmental youth family. We are interested in and try to support the Eastern Junior Simmental youth.  The Eastern Junior Classic Funding Auction at the NAILE is one of the important projects we participate with to provide, along with others, support for our youth.  I invite all of you to come and enjoy this event with us.

Kaiser Simmentals :: Bill Kaiser

Kaiser Simmentals is a small operation located in Shelbyville, Ky , we run around 25 cows . We take advantage of A.I. And embryo transfer to produce the best genetics available .i have been involved with the belles group for several of years and am happy that I was given the opportunity to market my cattle with such a great group of breeders . After coming home from western Kentucky university , I was given the opportunity to move on the family farm and got interested in breeding registered simmental cattle , I have a beautiful 13 year old daughter named Mally Shea which helps me with weekend chores around the farm , we also enjoy anything to do with the outdoors, hunting, fishing etc .

Wayward Hill Farm :: Dr. Henry & Lou Ann Allen & family

Wayward Hill Farm is one of the original founders that started the Belles & Bulls of the Bluegrass. The Allen family runs about 150 registered cows.  90% being purebreds the remainder being percentage.  We focus on producing performance based cattle that excel in the pasture and still can be competitive in the show ring.  We also focus on producing and developing bulls that last for our commercial customer base.  We make it a point to purchase our customers calves to use in our feeder cattle backgrounding operation.  It is always a good place to visit with past customers and friends we have made over the years in the simmental cattle business.

Dr. Allen is a veterinarian focusing on strictly cattle.  LouAnn manages the book keeping aspect of Allen Vet Service and helping out with the Grandkids on a daily basis. Dr. Allen started in the Simmental business in 1974.  Sons Paul and Chris are still involved in the cattle business.  Chris is a partner and runs the daily operations of Wayward Hill Farm.  Chris and his wife Sara have 2 daughters Ann Lawrence (3 years old) and Addison (6 months old).  Paul is a partner and manager of A & S Cattle company.  Paul and his wife Michelle have 2 boys Reese (9 years old) and Gage (6 years old). The Allen family is involved in almost every aspect of the beef cattle industry.

Welsh Simmentals :: Jeff & Teresa Welsh

Welsh Simmentals is owned and operated by Jeff and Teresa Welsh with assistance from our son Adam.  Currently Welsh Simmentals is a 70 Cow operation focusing on raising the highest quality Simmental/SimAngus genetics possible. We continue to build strong genetics by utilizing embryo transfer, IVF, and AI breeding to high quality bulls. This will be our 12th year in the Belles of the Bluegrass. We have made many friends thru this sale and hope to continue to build more friendships.






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