Never ending pursuit: H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch continuously strives to improve their genetics
The H.D. Dunn family is no stranger to the cattle business. In fact, H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch has been raising and producing quality Angus seedstock for years. Despite their history of success, current owner Ken Dunn is on a continuous quest to improve the ranch’s cowherd and genetics.
“H.D. Dunn was my grandfather. He ranched in New Mexico, and in 1973, he helped my dad find the ranch we still run today in Tetonia, Idaho,” says Ken.
Twenty years after the purchase of the ranch in Tetonia, Ken took over operations. For the first two years, Ken sold bulls private treaty, and then in 1998, he hosted his first live auction. Today, the Dunn family raises nearly 500 registered Angus cows and markets over 100 bulls each year at their annual sale in the fall.
Selling older bulls
In addition to switching their sale to a live auction format, H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch also made the transition from selling yearling bulls to selling coming two-year-old bulls.
“When we first started in the business, we sold yearling bulls in our sale every March,” Ken says. “In 2003, we switched from calving in early winter and selling yearling bulls in the spring, to calving in the spring and selling coming two-year-old bulls in the fall.”
Ken explains they made this switch for several different reasons.
“First of all, it is operationally so much easier for us to calve later when there is green grass. It is easier on us and our cattle, so this is what largely drove our decision to make the change,” he explains. “Additionally, this change allows us to be more customer oriented by allowing us to raise bulls and grow them at a more modest rate.”
Ken further explains H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch feeds out their own bulls so they don’t have to push as hard to get them to a desired sale weight.
“The name of the game when selling yearling bulls is how much feed a producer can put in them before the sale date,” Ken states. “But, 18-month-old bulls don’t have to be pushed as hard. We’ve found they last longer for our customers because we can spend more time sorting, culling and making sure only the best get sold.”
Ken also notes selling older bulls has given the operation an opportunity to pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) test their bulls. Therefore, the H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch PAP test their bulls at 16 months old.
“We work with Dr. Tim Holt at Colorado State University. We have found PAP testing at an older age provides more reliable test data,” Ken says. “So many of our customers run at high altitudes, so accuracy is really important to us.”
“We are continually striving to improve our cowherd and the genetics we offer our customers. In my mind, this is a never ending pursuit,” he continues. “We are continuing to pursue excellence and trying to breed a better animal with our customers’ goals in mind, which, frankly, are our core goals as well.”
Focusing on maternal cattle
Ken notes maternal ability is the preeminent reason the Dunn family began raising Angus cattle.
“As far as the cattle go, we have always focused on building a maternal cowherd with an emphasis on easier flushing, structural soundness and the ability to thrive in high mountain ranches,” Ken explains.
“We raise Angus cattle because they are good mothers, which is a main focus for our herd. The Angus breed is also hardy and can withstand the rigors of cold winters and the harshness of Mother Nature,” Ken says.
This year, H.D. Dunn and Son Angus Ranch will offer nearly 120 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale on Nov. 20. Typically, the sale also markets a combination of registered and commercial bred heifers and bred cows. However, this year they will only be offering commercial females.
“Due to the coronavirus, we are also going to offer a video option at our sale this year,” Ken states. “We always have our bulls in sale pens the Wednesday and Thursday before the sale, and we encourage our buyers to come get an early look at our bulls on their own schedule before the sale on Friday.”
He continues, “Most of our customers run on big, high country, and they have a lot of success running our bulls. They have found our bulls hold up well for many years. They have good feet, and they can cover a lot of country, whether it is in high desert or high mountain climates.”
For more information, visit hddunn.com.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.