click image to zoom At their 2011 production sale in December, Scott and Kim Ford sold Red Angus bulls to a range of customers seeking to add maternal traits, efficiency and carcass quality to their herds. They also sold one bull that did that and more, ultimately raising over $30,000 to support our troops.
The Fords own and operate Cross Diamond Cattle Company, a registered and commercial Red Angus operation near Bertrand, in south-central Nebraska. They run about 400 registered Red Angus cows and a commercial herd of about 450 cows — also Red Angus.
Kim Ford says they focus their genetic selection on fertility, low input and easy maintenance, along with sound feet, udders, overall structure and carcass quality in their registered and commercial cows, and in the registered bulls they sell.
Participants in the first sale of Cross Diamond’s 21 Gun Salute bull included, from left, Barry Horsley of Arcadia Land and Cattle and Horsley Red Angus, Cheramie Viator of Silver Spur Ranches, Scott Ford, Kim Ford and Cal Horsley. The Red Angus breed is known for fertility and maternal traits, she says, and the Fords work to build on that strength by managing their registered cows the same way as the commercial herd. Cows that maintain condition and deliver a calf every year in their low-input, forage-based system pass those traits on to their progeny, producing bulls and females that will adapt and perform consistently in commercial ranch environments.
Structural soundness relates to cow longevity, Ford says. And given the high cost of developing replacement heifers, cows that remain in the herd and produce calves every year for eight years, 10 years or more can significantly reduce production costs. The Cross Diamond website lists several brood cows over 10 years of age, including one 20-year-old that has bred back every year.
Some customers, Ford says, use Red Angus bulls in primarily straight-bred Red Angus cow herds, while others use the bulls in crossbred herds including other English or Continental breeds.
In addition to the genetic merit of their bulls, the Fords credit the Red Angus Association’s marketing support for building demand for the breed. This includes the association’s “Feeder Calf Certification Program” that provides age and source verification for calves with at least 50 percent Red Angus genetics.
The Fords schedule calving season to begin in mid-April for their registered and commercial cow herds. Cow-calf pairs spend the summer on grass until weaning time in October. After weaning, the cows move to stalks and the calves winter on stalks, stockpiled forage and dried distillers’ grains as a protein supplement. After wintering on stalks, the cows move to grass at spring greenup. Later calving helps cows maintain condition through the calving season and into lactation, with access to abundant forage. Also, the timing allows the Fords to offer 18-month-old “age-advantaged” bulls in their December sale, that will be a full 2 years old at turnout.