“We want to be able to sell good, quality animals to commercial producers at a good price,” explained Steve Craig, of Summersville, Mo. “I’ve been that commercial producer and I know it can be expensive, but I want to provide quality bulls to help those commercial guys make more money in the end, at the sale barn.”
That’s how Steve and his wife, Julie, explained their Beefmaster operation located just north of Summersville in Texas County. “My dad and I had cattle for years,” said Steve. “I started raising cattle when I was 13, got out when I was 26 and have been back in it now for the past five or six years,” he reasoned. Julie was raised on a farm, “but we had horses only and that was in Kansas,” she added. They have two children, Zach 6 and Cassidy, 7, who also help out on the farm.
They started their Beefmaster herd about three years ago. “I had seen these cattle at the Farm Fest in Springfield back almost 20 years ago,” explained Steve.  “I liked what I saw and realized they could work for us and many producers here in this area.”
“They have good milk and mothering abilities and their calves have high weaning weights,” added Julie. “That’s ultimately what we want – big calves to sell.”

About Beefmasters
Beefmasters have six essentials that are present in the breed. “If they are not, we cull them out,” added Steve. “Weight, conformation, milking ability, fertility, disposition and hardiness – those are the six essentials.
“Beefmasters are half Brahman, a quarter Hereford and a quarter Shorthorn,” he said. “With these animals, the best of each breed comes out to make the best Beefmaster.”
According to Steve, Beefmasters come in many colors. “There are paints, black, red, tan and white face markings. We are focusing more on the red and black animals, because most of the farms around us where we hope to sell our bulls have Angus-based cow herds and these bulls will throw black or red calves. For us the advantage of Beefmasters is their growing ability and low maintenance, in time and expense.”

Breed Adaptations
“We currently have 27 cows, one bull and 17 calves,” counted Steve. “We bought our animals from a friend, but didn’t know much about Beefmasters. We bought open heifers and then had to take the time to get them bred, so we feel like we are a little behind,” he added, “and even over the three years we’ve been working with them, things have changed.
“The breed is working to clean up the underlines of its animals, so we’ve had to change bulls to accommodate that,” added Julie. “We now have our fifth bull on the farm,” she chuckled.
“Our cattle have been low maintenance and very docile,” explained Steve. “They don’t have a problem with pink eye and foot rot seems to be minimal. They can survive on about anything. They are the goats of cattle breeds,” he chuckled. “We had them on some land that hadn’t been fertilized and was grown up and brushy, and they got in there and thrived.
“They have also been calm and not caused us trouble when we’ve worked them,” he added. “Julie and I work the farm, so that has been important. I can work them and haven’t had to worry too much about injury.
Steve also explained that artificial insemination is something they are looking to for the future. “If I’d been thinking about it then, we would have AI’d these heifers when we bought them open,” he said. “That would have given us better genetics and calves quicker than we got them.
“All of our first calf crop were out of a bull with an undesirable underline, so we sold them at the local sale barn. It’s not how the Beefmasters are being raised now, so we sacrificed those calves to get a better breed representation,” he said. “So now we feel like we’re behind where we should be in raising our seed stock.”

Advice For Others
“If you are looking to start a registered business, start small,” Steve said firmly. “Get the kind of animals you like and you need to enjoy it. In the beginning, it’s all about quality and not quantity. If you can make it work for you, AI those cattle to the best bulls in your breed,” he added.
“Find somebody who is knowledgeable about what you are looking at and who will share that knowledge,” he said. “Learn about the cattle and know what to buy. Since we got our Beefmasters, people are getting more specific in what they are looking for in animals and we have to make sure we know what that is and be able to change to what is marketable.

Our Goals
“We want to have the best cows in the country,” Steve stated. “And we want to sell animals off the farm to other breeders and commercial producers.
“Our animal goal is 100 momma cows,” added Julie. “We want to have quality cattle that will produce a uniform calf for every producer, whether they are gathering loads for the sale barn or keeping animals for their herds.”
“Like I said to start with, we want to sell good bulls at a decent price that will be useful for the purchaser,” he concluded.


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