Oklahoma Ranch Relies on High Conception Rates, Heavy Weaned CalvesThu, 21 Nov 2019 09:54:06 CST
There’s a saying in agriculture, “take care of the land and it will take care of you.” That saying is even more true if you insert the words “and cows” right after “land” in both instances. Then, apply it to Stephens Land & Cattle Co., with headquarters in Guymon, Okla. Tom Stephens has been taking care of the land and the cattle nearly his entire life, and they have provided for his family, including the future generations.
“God’s been good to me throughout life, and things just kind of worked out for us. I’ve had a love for livestock because I grew up that way,” Tom said.
Tom recalls that beef cattle weren’t always the mainstay for his family. He said he grew up on a “small, poor dairy farm” with just a few beef cows. But with perseverance and hard work, Tom has grown his operation to include more than 3,000 commercial cows, with half of them being Red Angus influenced.
With that many cows and spread across two ranches, Tom is glad his grandson, Truth Stephens, who lives near and manages the ranch in Okmulgee, Okla., wanted to come back to be part of the family business. In addition, they also have long-time employees, that they trust like family.
“No one can do anything on their own. Truth wants to work all the time. He’s a hard worker,” Tom said.
And Truth said he is glad to have his grandfather to learn from and carry on the tradition of raising high-quality cattle that ultimately feed the world.
“It’s a risky business to be in. I make one wrong move or one wrong business decision, and it can ruin ya. But on the other hand, it’s the best thing I could do. I love working hand-in-hand with him. I’ve learned about everything I know from him ,” Truth said.
Running 3,000 commercial cows on the Oklahoma prairie is risky business, but with good management practices including a premium mineral program, the Stephens have reduced their risk. Their cows have a job to do at Stephens Land & Cattle, and that is to produce a live calf every year that weans heavy. They have strict culling protocols, in an effort to make their herd better each year. They ship any cow that doesn’t breed, and each big-framed cow has to produce a good calf each year inside of their predetermined calving window, or she goes too.
“We want a cow to produce a calf every year and we want calves that will gain well or heifers that will breed well,” Tom said.
He explains he has his reputation to uphold, as people have been buying his calves for 46 years. Those buyers have come to expect healthy, high-performing calves that will take to the feed and grow. And with selling calves at weaning, a lot of that initial responsibility falls back on those mama cows, that need to be reproductively sound.
“We want our calves to wean heavy when we wean. If they weigh 450 pounds when we wean, we’ve done something wrong or that cow has. That’s a lot of money for us,” Truth said.
“No matter what we do, conception rates are probably the largest thing that can either break you or make you with livestock. You’ve got to have that cow bred and producing a calf, so anything you can do to improve conception rates, you’ve got to do it,” said the older Stephens.
That’s why Tom and Truth started feeding the VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® to their herd about six years ago. They have seen a noteworthy increase in their conception rates, their cows keep their body condition better, and their hair coats are slicker. VitaFerm Concept•Aid is a vitamin and mineral supplement for beef cattle specifically designed for reproductive success when fed 60 days pre-calving through 60 days post-breeding. Concept•Aid contains high levels of Vitamin E for reproductive tract repair, organic trace minerals for more stability and higher bioavailability, and Amaferm®, a precision-based prebiotic that impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption for optimum health and performance. Amaferm is research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as to the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility.
“Concept•Aid does pay for itself. It’s a smart choice,” Truth said. “We lose money if our calves are not the same weights. They don’t want to pay for a group of calves that is not uniform. Concept•Aid has definitely helped us shorten our calving season, which has helped us with size and uniformity of our calves. And, we’re not calving cows for five months.”
Take care of the land and the cows. Provide your cows with a high-quality mineral program backed with the Amaferm advantage, and the cows will breed back quicker, wean off heavier calves and take care of you.
Tune into The American Rancher on RFD-TV (DISH Channel 231 and DirecTV Channel 345) on 9 p.m., EST on Monday, Dec. 2, to learn more about how Stephens Land & Cattle use and benefit from VitaFerm Concept•Aid. The show will re-air at 1 a.m., EST, Tuesday, Dec. 3 and again at noon EST, Sunday, Dec. 8.
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