Midland consignors dedicated to the test: operations advance from results
Jim Brown of MJB Ranch and Craig Vejraska of Sunny Okanogan Angus Ranch are annual Midland Bull Test consignors who have trusted in the test’s results for many years. Jim has bought and tested bulls from Midland since its establishment in 1962, and Craig has been bringing bulls to Midland for 48 years.
Craig mentions he’s been raising Angus cattle since he was 10 years old, saying, “We’ve been at it for a while, and we are always trying to make improvements.”
MJB Ranch usually brings 40 to 50 bulls – South Devons and Herefords – to the test annually. Sunny Okanogan Angus Ranch typically brings seven to 10 Angus bulls.
Craig says he mainly takes sire groups to Midland for the feed efficiency information.
“We take our bulls to Midland to get the good rate of gain with less feed,” he says. “In the livestock industry, feed is 75 percent of the total operation expense. It makes your operation more profitable if you can do it with less feed.”
Jim acknowledges the value of testing cattle handled similarly for gain, efficiency, marbling, etc.
“If you test cattle together, you have a better idea of efficiency rates and how your cattle are doing compared to others,” he says. “The better selection of bulls you can provide, the more pressure you can put on other producers, and the more bulls buyers have to select from to use for herd bulls.”
Jim mentions the test is all about increasing profitability for the commercial rancher.
“The Midland Bull Test helps producers increase the value of cattle for a commercial guy and increase the profitable traits producers can pass on to make profit for customers,” he adds.
Craig mentions he’s bought a good amount of herd bulls scoring high in efficiency at the Midland sale over the years to use on their cows. He notes the ranch has seen quite a difference in their cowherd, as far as efficiency goes.
“What we’ve found out over time, as we’ve kept those efficient heifers in the herd, is our cows stay in better shape on less feed than they used to,” Craig says. “This is strictly from what we’ve done at Midland as far as efficiency – buying those efficient bulls.”
Craig and Jim both note they’ve seen outstanding advancements to the Midland Bull Test throughout the years.
Craig acknowledges the GrowSafe feeding system Midland utilizes. The feeders on the GrowSafe system use electronic identification tags to monitor and track an animal’s individual consumption rates, helping producers correlate pounds of gain to pounds of intake.
“You can have a bull gaining a lot of weight but also eating a lot of feed,” says Craig. “This is not where producers want to be in the livestock industry. Ranchers want to be able to have cattle eating less feed and still gaining a lot of weight – it’s way more efficient.”
“Midland is one of the only bull test stations in the U.S. with the biggest data system, giving data back to producers,” he adds.
Jim is impressed with the GrowSafe system at Midland as well, recalling efficiency wasn’t nearly as simple to measure when efficiency testing first began. He explains one sire group was tested against another, instead of individual testing.
“They would put in 10 bulls out of this sire, 10 out of a different sire and 10 out of another sire and keep them separate in smaller pens,” he says. “This would give efficiency results, but it was really expensive and time consuming. The GrowSafe system is much more efficient.”
Jim explains Midland is on the “forefront” of all the new, cutting-edge technology.
“Efficiency is expensive to measure,” he says. “But people are starting to understand it’s one of the more important things to measure, aside from fertility production traits.”
Craig encourages producers to ensure their bulls are ready for the test before bringing them to Midland.
“Make sure they’ve been weaned and they’re ready to start because you have got to go into the program right away, there’s no warm up deal,” he says. “Don’t get them too fat, just go in there on an all-natural basis. This is what we try to do.”
Craig and Jim both mention they don’t typically creep feed calves before Midland, but Jim says he might this year.
“The cattle typically come off of grass and go straight to Midland most years,” says Jim.
He mentions this technique didn’t work as well last year, being how dry it was.
“Last year we weighed the cattle, and when we put them back out, there was nothing to eat, and I think it kind of stunted them,” he says. “If it’s this dry again, we will weigh them and put them on a creep feed.”
Jim says he’s astounded by the advancements seen during his years participating in Midland, and he’s certain advancements will continue to occur as technology continues to evolve.
“The best times for those proven cattle coming out of a test like Midland are ahead of us,” Jim says. “There will be more progress in the future than there has been in the past.”
“We went as far as we can on making the cattle faster gaining – some of them have probably gotten too big in the process – this will change dramatically as far as the actual economics for the cattle business,” he concludes.
For more information on MJB Ranch, visit mjbcattle.com.
For more information on Sunny Okanogan Angus Ranch, visit and sunnyokanoganangus.com.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.