Built to last: Beery Land and Livestock builds longevity into their cattle and relationships with customers
Beery Land and Livestock was established in the Vida, Mont. area in 1937. Today, the fourth generation on the place, Matt Beery and his wife Krista run the operation. Matt’s son Ethan and daughter Leah are the fifth generation.
“My grandpa’s uncle started in 1937 with some registered Hereford and grew from there,” Matt explains. “My dad and grandpa were always passionate about raising good, honest horned Hereford cattle and they liked the hardiness of the Hereford breed.”
The Beery’s made a mark in the 1950s and 1960s with horned Herefords, says Matt, and as their customer base became more interested in polled Herefords, they began using more polled Hereford genetics.
In the last four or five years the Beery’s have used more proven polled Hereford bulls to move their herd in the direction of what their customers were looking for.
They also began running more commercial cows than they had previously.
“We introduced registered Red Angus into the operation about 15 years ago to take advantage of heterosis in the commercial herd. We thought if we ran our own registered Herefords, we might as well raise our own registered Red Angus also,” says Matt. “The Hereford breed has been really tough, and through the years there have been a lot of true breeders and good genetics lost.”
Adding Red Angus to the operation might have been one of the best decisions they have made, notes Matt. By comparing two different breeds raised on the same place, the Beery’s are able to pick out strengths and weaknesses in both herds and find ways to improve both.
“Each breed has its strong points,” Matt adds. “Bringing another breed in and comparing the breeds to each other has really helped us as registered breeders.”
Longevity from the Hereford cattle and a couple more pounds of beef per head from the Red Angus cattle are two traits the Beerys appreciate from their herd.
“As breeders, the goal is to make our calf crop better each year,” says Matt.
Joanne Beery, Matt’s mother, adds the Beerys have a custom feeding part of their operation where they mostly develop heifers. This helps them to understand what’s going on with cattle from other places.
Putting genetics to the test
“Everything is done in balance,” says Matt, noting for every heifer calf born on their place, there will also be a steer made and in the end, feedlot owners need to have sellable a carcass on the rack. “We know our end product is raising a pound of beef, but we know we also have to raise a female that will be productive and last as long as they can in our environment.”
Because annual rainfall for the region is only 12 to 13 inches each year, the Beerys have to raise cattle that are able to work, as well as produce genetics to work in tough environments.
“We try to test these genetics and practice what we preach,” he continues.
Matt shares they cull very strictly on maternal traits, and they like to see bulls make calves with explosive growth after birth. Calving ease is also very important on their operation, and when combined with explosive growth, gives calves the chance to develop on milk and prairie grass.
“A lot of our customers are larger commercial outfits, and while they are selling pounds of beef come fall, it all starts with a live calf,” he continues. “We don’t single-select traits, but it is really important. We sell bulls as yearlings and we’re expecting heifers to breed as yearlings, so we want earlier-maturing cattle.”
The Beery’s run their registered herds just as they run their commercial herd. All of the replacement heifers in their commercial herd come from the registered herd, and if those heifers perform better than their contemporaries, they return to the registered herd.
“Everything in the commercial herd is entered into a crossbreeding system because this is what most of our commercial customers do,” shares Matt. “To see our registered genetics work on the commercial side, we use our own registered bulls on the commercial herd.”
“There isn’t one bull we raise here we wouldn’t use in our own program,” he adds. “This sets the bar when we market our bulls.”
Selling private treaty
Bulls from Beerys Land and Livestock have been sold off the ranch private treaty since 2004. Although the discussion of holding a live bull sale comes about each year, the Beery’s appreciate the relationships they’ve been able to build with their customers and work to match their customers with bulls to meet their needs.
“When we put a group of bulls in the pen, we have to have the first bull sell just as well as the last bull in the pen,” shares Matt. “Bulls really have to be fairly uniform and sorted into sets that fit well together.”
Matt believes each customer who comes to the ranch leaves with the genetics to work for their operation. Beerys Land and Livestock raises a large selection of bulls that are half brothers and three-quarters brothers to make feeder cattle with consistent performance.
“We can look at bulls, then drive down the road and look at the bulls’ mothers,” he adds. “The conversation along the way helps us focus on our customers and what their needs are.”
The relationship built between the Beerys and their bull customers through private treaty is valued higher than the extra money they might have made by selling in an auction. Meeting their customers’ needs and running quality cattle is important to their family and ranching goals.
For more information, visit BeeryHerefords.com.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.