Red Angus cattle, Schüler Red Angus takes disciplined approach to seedstock
Bridgeport, Neb. – Butch and Susan Schuler’s 35 years of experience raising registered Red Angus cattle has resulted in three herds of quality cattle backed by data.
Their nearly four decades of production starts with the cow, then the calf, with a final focus on finding the right bull for their customers.
“Schuler Red Angus maintains three herds of cattle – registered Red Angus, Schuler Red Composites and commercial cattle,” says Butch Schuler, who was raised on the operation. “Both our Red Angus and Schuler Reds are enrolled in the Red Angus Association’s Total Herd Reporting (THR) and have been since the program’s inception in the early 90s.”
Butch’s mother, Mary Lou, who passed away in 2005, was on the Red Angus registration committee that helped implement THR.
“In addition to a breeding program driven by cowherd building traits, such as stay-ability and cow maintenance energy costs, we utilize proven selection and management strategies to enhance cowherd fertility and productivity,” says Schuler. “We augment our selection for docility with low-stress handling techniques.”
They prioritize heifers born early in the calving season when selecting replacements, and only heifers born in the first 30 days are considered for selection preference.
“Heifer exposure data is submitted annually for heifer fertility expected progeny difference (EPD) evaluation,” Schuler says, adding every cow is expected to become pregnant within 60 days. “Cows with poor udders, bad feet and poor dispositions are not tolerated.”
“While cows must fit a ‘least-cost’ production environment, calves must excel in a feedyard environment, so our customers’ customers – that is, the feeding industry – will continue to pay premiums for their calves,” Schuler says.
Since the majority of Shuler’s customers raise their own replacement females, fertility and longevity must be part of the same package that includes feed conversion and carcass value.
Data is a particularly important part of finding the right genetics for their calves, and Schuler explains, “We have been collecting and analyzing carcass data since 1991, and today, more than 20 percent of all Red Angus harvest data has been submitted by Schuler Red Angus.”
Recently, the Schulers have also structured progeny testing to identify feed efficiency variation.
“We purchase calves back from our customers, and the steers – plus some heifers – are evaluated for carcass data,” he continues. “Cattle feeders and packers recognize extra value in cattle sired by Schuler Red Angus bulls resulting from our 25-year commitment to carcass and feedlot data.”
“Our replacement quality heifers are sorted. We require them to have the same reproductive success that we demand from our own cowherd,” Schuler adds. “We market the replacements as uniform groups of commercial bred heifers.”
In March of 2018, the Schulers will host their 36th annual bull sale.
Their longevity results from a focus on providing bulls that work for their customers. With over 50 years’ experience in the commercial cow/calf sector, the family has walked enough miles in their customers’ shoes to understand how to design genetic solutions to many of their customers’ challenges
“Our goal for customers is to get the bull right every time,” Schuler said. “Mating decisions are carefully considered to ensure every bull we sell will sire steers that perform profitably in the feedyard and hang premium value carcasses while every heifer is a candidate for a cowherd replacement.”
Their customer base extends across the country – from Oregon to Florida and everywhere in between.
The Schuler family starts calving in March and April.
“First-calf heifers calve in a short window at the beginning of March, just ahead of the main cowherd,” Schuler says. “The short calving season on the first-calf heifers is accomplished because they are only given a 30-day breeding season.”
Calves are identified as soon as their born, and the Schulers record birthing and calf data, to include birth weights, calving ease scores, cow udders, and more.
“Cows and newborn calves are paired out onto native range as soon as possible after calving,” he continues. “Then, in May and early June, every female on the ranch is bred via artificial insemination (AI) and moved to summer pasture, where they are exposed to Schuler herd sires.”
Bulls are only left in 30 days for the heifers and 45 days for the main cowherd.
During the summer, the cattle run on native western Nebraska rangelands.
“The cattle range in large, equal-opportunity contemporary groups, so within the herd, variation can be measured and meaningful data submitted,” Schuler comments.
Calves are weaned in September and early October, with the opportunity for earlier weaning in drought conditions.
After weaning, heifers are sorted as replacement, sale or feedlot heifers.
“Replacements are developed on roughage,” Schuler says. “Bull calves also begin their performance testing, where gain and carcass ultrasound data is collected. Bulls are also evaluated for fertility, soundness, foot structure and disposition.”
“We test 300 or more bulls, but only half actually reach our standards and are sold in our annual March bull sale,” Schuler adds.
At the core of it all, Schuler Red Angus strives to be a low-labor operation with minimal input.
Schuler comments, “With the exception of some supplements, our operation is self-sufficient in terms of producing feed for the cowherd, as well as for the development of bulls and replacement females.”
“Susan and I have no other full-time help right now, so we have to handle cattle efficiently,” Schuler adds. “We have fine-tuned low-stress cattle handling techniques for decades, and we guarantee the disposition of every bull.”
Schuler Red Angus can be found online at schulerredangus.com.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.