The Roset Ribbon: From a 4-H project to a successful cattle business, Black Summit Cattle produces cows that perform
Quin LaFollette started in the cattle business at the young age of seven when he bought his first show heifer. From then on, he spent the rest of his childhood and into his early 20s actively pursuing the coveted roset ribbon in the show ring.
Although the LaFollettes moved away from raising show cattle years ago, they are still focused on producing performance-driven, good-looking, sound and funcational cattle. Black Summit cattle are branded with the roset ribbon on their right rib, and the operation’s motto is “Where cattle that perform, get the ribbon.”
After developing a passion for the cattle business at a young age, Quin went to work for a ranch in Oregon, where he stayed for three years before returning to Cody to manage a 1,000-head commercial herd.
In 1987, Quin and his wife Tracy started Black Summit Cattle, raising Maine-Anjou cattle and later transitioning to straight Angus. The couple held an annual bull sale with the Pannell Ranch in Alva for a number of years during this time.
However, the LaFollette’s quickly realized purebred Angus cows weren’t quite the right fit for their operation either.
“Even though we like Angus cattle, we love heterosis and what it does for the producer, so we started looking for a hybrid breed we could raise,” Quin explains. “We felt like Simmentals offered the most genetic benefit, and we started raising SimAngus bulls in 2000.”
Quin notes for the first 10 years they sent their SimAngus bulls to Tuell Cattle in Colorado but have since started hosting their own production sale, which takes place annually every third Friday in March.
In addition to selling 80 bulls through this sale, Black Summit Cattle currently runs 200 registered SimAngus cows.
They also recently purchased 50 more registered females and obtained a new lease, so they will expand their sale to offer 100 bulls in 2025.
Quin explains Black Summit Cattle is driven by making large numbers of uniform cattle.
“We like good-looking cattle that are built right with top-tier genetic value,” he says. “But, it’s a real challenge to make them in volume. Our goal is for our customers to be able to buy all of the bulls they need and that they all look alike.”
Quin also notes the LaFollettes are firm believers in using up-to-date science, which he believes sets them apart from most seedstock producers.
“We DNA test everything. We have Top Genomics analyze genomes for large effect genes,” he adds. “We are now testing for bovine congestive heart failure markers as well.”
Additionally, Black Summit Cattle pulmonary arterial pressure tests all of their bulls and sells them with an “unconditional guarantee.”
“We know as much about the breeding value of our cows as anybody in the business,” he says. “This year’s sale averaged $6,246 on 74 bulls.”
Family and friends
In addition to raising high-performing cattle, the LaFollettes also focus on maintaining important relationships.
Quin explains Black Summit Cattle is a 100 percent family-run operation, involving him and Tracy’s two sons Gavin and Cory and their daughter Amber.
“Gavin and his family work at the ranch full time and are partners in the cattle business,” Quin says. “Cory judged in college while getting his master’s degree in breeding and genetics from Colorado State University. He is the production manager at Gunworks Long Range Rifles, but puts in embryos for us and is a big help at sale time.”
“Amber and her husband are both school teachers in Cody, and they help when possible,” he adds.
Strengthening relationships with their clients is also a priority at Black Summit Cattle.
“Tracy and I have been very, very blessed in our lives. We try and live by Christian principles and know we are here to be good stewards of what has been given to us,” he says. “We treat every customer the way we would appreciate being treated. We believe people do business with the people they want to do business with, and we want people to want to do business with us.”
For more information on Black Summit Cattle, visit blacksummitcattle.com.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.