Genetic excellence Deppe Angus tests quality bulls at Midland Bull Test
Published on March 21, 2020
Nestled in the northeast Iowa town of Waverly, Deppe Angus has been committed to providing high quality bulls to commercial producers around the country since 1997.
Owner and operator Dennis Deppe grew up on a commercial operation and was first introduced to Angus cattle while working for Strathe Angus in college.
“The experience piqued my interest in the genetic side of enhancing purebred cattle,” he says.
From his background, Deppe knew where commercial producers were coming from and what traits they needed for cattle to work in a commercial setting.
He starts with using proven cow families.
“We want cows to be very maternal, docile, and correct in their structure and appearance,” he says. “We breed them to power bulls that offer growth and efficiency. Our goal is to tie all that together for commercial producers.”
History of testing
Deppe Angus started testing cattle in the Iowa Cattlemen Association’s bull tests in 1999, and in 2013, began testing bulls at the “granddaddy” of bull tests – Midland Bull Test.
Deppe has been fascinated by the Midland Bull Test since he was young.
“I can remember studying the Midland Bull Test data as a kid,” he says.
Now in its eighth year of participating in the Midland Bull Test, Deppe Angus is recognized as one of the most consistent top performers. In 2018, Deppe Angus produced the World Champion Pen of Bulls and this year, took runner up honors.
“The feed efficiency data combined with being evaluated for performance, fertility and carcass traits in an objective third party manner is what attracted me to the Midland Bull Test,” he says. “Some of the best seedstock producers put their top bulls on test at Midland, and in turn, Midland provides an extensive amount of data and information as anyone in the business so cattlemen know what they are buying.”
Deppe Angus will sell 19 bulls in this year’s Midland Bull Test sale. Deppe Angus also sells bulls through the Iowa Cattlemen Association’s tests, as well as private sales.
“We market about 65 bulls per year and most to commercial cattle operators,” he says. “A few of our bulls go to seedstock producers, generally around 10 percent. We average about 50 to 60 percent returning customers.”
“Our ideal bull is one that can perform in any environment he is put in and can increase the genetic value of the cowherd,” he says. “Adding value to the cowherd is a main focus, whether it be carcass, growth or maternal traits.”
“Moving forward, we are looking to continually grow our cowherd” says Deppe. “We want to continue to work on the genetic piece of keeping a balanced animal from phenotype to genomic type and to make sure the structure and longevity exist. We want to have the data to back all this up.”
He continues, “I work with a couple of cooperator herds as well, both of which have very different feeding resources because of their environments.”
“The first cooperator is in southern Iowa with a lot of fescue, which is a hard grass for cattle to survive on,” Deppe notes. “The other herd is on the bluffs near the Mississippi River and has a completely different environment.”
“We want to make sure cattle can thrive in their environment,” he says. “We don’t use creep feed to make sure mothers can manage themselves and produce a big calf on their own without the help of a creep feed supplement.”
“We focus a lot on the data that comes in from how these bulls perform,” says Deppe. “We are very committed to sorting bulls first on structure and survivability in their environment before we look at EPDs or any other data.”
“My advice to young producers getting into this business is something I have been told time and time again,” says Deppe. “Study cow families and study the history behind those cattle to make sure that we have the best cow families we can possibly get.”
He continues, “Going forward, genetics will always come back and work for us when we start with strong families. Embrace technology and data but always make sure cattle can function in their environment and be profitable.”
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.