Bob Pingetzer and family raise quality commercial, registered cattle
Riverton – “My dad moved up here and homesteaded around Ocean Lake in the mid-1930s. We moved here in the early 1940s and Dad built a log house – hauled the logs in himself. When they came here there was no drinking water in this end of the valley. It was kind of tough going,” explains George Pingetzer as he points across the road from his current residence to the original log house.
“That was right at the beginning of the Depression. My parents moved here to get a new start,” adds George’s wife Velma.
George and Velma Pingetzer still run a large cattle, hay and crop operation with their son Bob and his wife Paige. Bob and his brother Rich were born and raised in the valley.
“We’ve got a farm that’s over 1,400 acres that’s mainly in oats, corn and hay. Our registered cows are both Red and Black Angus, and we also have commercial cows,” explains Bob of the operation today.
Calves are kept to heavy feeders and marketed at about 800 to 900 pounds. “We have retained ownership in the past, but the last few years it didn’t look like it would work out as well. We also haven’t found a feeder who would work with us the way we want. We like to sell half interest to the feedlot so they have a vested interest in the cattle and want to make them work and will sell them when they need to go,” explains Bob. Any registered calves not kept as bulls are marketed right along with the commercial calves.
“To start this out George bought 20 head of little black heifers, and he gave five to Rich and five to Bob. Then we went up to Beckton Stock Farms to buy some bulls for our commercial herd. Sally Forbes would give us the performance papers and George would go pick them out. Well, if they indexed over 100 she would have a pretty good price on them. So George would ask about number 25, and he would have too high an index, and so on. So we went in to visit with Sally and said we couldn’t afford to buy the bulls for our commercial herd at the quality we need.
‘Well’, she replied, ‘I know something about you, I know you bought 20 head of nice little black heifers. You go pick yourself one really nice herd bull and put him on those 20 heifers, and raise your own bulls. You can do it as well as I can. You might say I’m cutting my throat, but I’m not – you’ll be back for herd bulls.’”
“That was her way of telling us how to do better,” explains Velma.
“So that’s what we did. We bred them to a red bull and started recording information, and started breeding red cattle that way. Then, in 1972 Dad bought some red heifers,” adds Bob.
“We went with red at the time because they were required to have performance data, and blacks weren’t,” comments George.
From that starting point the family tried Charolais, then Simmentals and a couple Limousins at one time. “We got into polled Herefords a little and had some registered polled Herefords for a while. Then in the early 1980s we got into the Salers, and Rich wanted my polled Herefords, so I took his registered reds.
“We stuck with the Salers for over a decade. They’re good cattle with tremendous feet and legs, but they’re really hard to market, so we phased them out,” explains Bob.
“Then Paige and I have the bull test on the side,” notes Bob.
The Pingetzers put in a bid to feed bulls in the Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association (WBCIA) bull test about 15 years ago and have done it ever since. They feed about 200 bulls each year for the test, in addition to holding the sale on their place. Sale order is based on daily gain, but some producers also have their bulls utrasounded and genetically tested.
“We are looking at the possibility of implementing some feed efficiency with the Cornell Program, but nothing has been decided yet, and it will depend on what the consigners want,” explains Bob.
The Pingetzers’ registered bulls are fed and marketed through the WBCIA bull test and the Midland bull test, with high levels of success at both. “Being in both gives us a good comparison, and we’ve done well at Midland,” notes Velma. Having the Champion pen of Red Angus bulls three times at Midland is one highlight for the family. “We’ve maintained a registered herd since the mid 1980s, and the commercial herd has grown as we’ve added to our range country since,” notes Bob.
Cows are calved out beginning the first of February at George’s place. Heifers and the black cows calve starting the first, and about 20 days later the registered cows start. The commercial cows start about March 15.
“Some think we should back our calving season off, but then we get into farming. It’s kind of a Catch 22 with some of our dates,” comments Bob.
The Pingetzers market between 1,000 and 1,500 tons of hay annually, and the rest goes through their cattle.
“It’s a sizable operation that keeps everyone busy. We have six kids, and the boys cuts and bale hay and the girls and I stack it. We all set water and pitch in wherever. It’s mom and dad and my family and one or two hired hands to make it work,” says Bob.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.