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Maternal focus: WEBO Angus builds productive bulls based on maternal traits

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Lusk – WEBO Angus is an operation with a profound belief in maternal instincts, letting the females shine and the males do their job. Buttons York, along with her daughters and mother, Kathleen Jackson, are the hearts and brains behind the operation.

“You have to have cows that will work, then the bulls will take care of themselves,” shares Buttons.

The philosophy behind WEBO Angus starts with a cow that has good feet and a well-developed udder. According to Buttons, fertility is what sets the operation up for success.

Females bring the success

Buttons is no stranger to cattle, and neither is her family. Buttons and Kath- leen have been in the cattle business their whole lives, and now her daughters, Elly Wurdeman and Odessa Mathias, are included as well. Kathleen runs a commercial sheep and cattle operation, and Buttons runs a registered Angus herd.

Together, they have helped each other over the years, honing in on what works best for their respective operations. WEBO Angus makes sure their females can perform and produce offspring with positive performance traits. “The heifers here have to have an inch of ribeye per hundred pounds of body weight, and they have to get a decent marbling score,explains Buttons.

However, while carcass traits hold value in creating an end product for commercial customers, Buttons believes maternal traits are just as important.

“I don’t believe one can get along by only focusing on a set of terminal traits in their mother cows,” she explains. “It is also important to have maternal traits.”

The operation calves their cows for 45 days, then sells anything that has not bred up during the given time period.

“I keep a lot of heifers,” says Buttons. “Then, I put about three or four sorts on my heifer calves before I consider them as replacements.”

Buttons believes this practice has helped improve the fertility of her herd immensely.

“What really sets us apart from others is that we’re an all-female operation,” says Buttons. “We don’t like to have ill-tempered cattle, we just don’t want to deal with that.”

Buttons wants easy-to-handle and intuitive cattle, which allow her all-female crew to be successful.

Bull program is focused on maternal traits

WEBO Angus sells around 85 bulls each year. The offering includes roughly 20 to 25 two-year- old bulls, as well 70 to 75 head of yearling bulls.

“We focus a lot on

maternal traits, good feet, feed efficiency and the product of a calf, which is what keeps all ranchers in business,” explains Buttons. “We focus on this first in the cows, then everything else falls into place.”

WEBO Angus runs their cattle like ranchers – not over fat and never pushing the feed. Heifer calves get ground hay, oats and/or alfalfa supplemented with some distillers’ grains. The cows only get hay or graze, and bulls are fed a high roughage ration and ground hay.“

This time of year, the bulls are probably getting about four to five pounds of corn and about three to four pounds of distillers’,” adds Buttons. “We want bulls to grow, but we don’t want them fat. We think it makes them sound longer if they aren’t fed a lot of hot feed.”

WEBO Angus offers a wide array of bloodlines by investing in genetics from Vermilion, Midland Bull Test and other proven Angus operations.

“I want proven efficiency,” Buttons says. “Additionally, we have to watch pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) scores here because we’re at 5,000 feet.”

Buttons is very proud to have the bull, Vermilion Countdown, in her program.

“We have looked at the efficiency of his sons and he’s one of the top efficiency bulls,” explains Buttons. “He has good calves, and the best thing about him is his females – he’ll throw nice, big strappy calves.”

WEBO Angus provides a full first season breeding guarantee for their bulls.

“We stand behind our bulls 100 percent,” notes Buttons. “If anybody has an issue, we make it right. We just try to treat people like we would want to be treated.”

Feed efficiency correlates with bred cattle

WEBO Angus will more than likely shock visitors when they see the registered herd is not being pushed, but rather, living on range conditions like commercial cattle. The operation’s cattle know how to survive and thrive.

“I really think feed efficiency ties into this survivability aspect,” says But- tons, noting she believes feed efficiency is going to become a big deal in terms of total productivity.

“I close my eyes and let them sort themselves out,” she says. “If they’re open, they’re gone and if they’re a little later than need be, I have a brand new early-bred replacement heifer waiting. If the cow does not breed back it will cost too much to get her there.”

Running cattle the last two years in extreme droughts has brought many operations hardships, but Buttons prides herself in the fact her cattle all bred up extremely well, even in harsh conditions.

“In 2021, I had six open cows out of 287 head following a 60-day breeding window,” she shares. “Then, I cut my cows to a 45-day calving winds.”

Buttons notes she believes this sort of selection very positively benefits the fertility ratio of her herd.

Delcy Bayles is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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