Don and Artie Hughes started small in the cattle business in 1979, with four Angus cows. Thirty years later, they are going strong, in a seed stock operation, which now includes their son and daughter-in-law, Keith and Debbie Hughes. For the past 10 years, they have found reporting calving data to the Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR) through the American Angus Association to be an extraordinary performance advantage.
Don Hughes explained. “We send in the birth weights, weaning weights and yearling weights to the Association. It helps us to choose the calves and bulls, to know ahead of time how big of a calf a particular cow will throw. It makes a big difference and is really helpful. We do some A.I. (artificial insemination) and of course, Keith does some. We also have a man who comes to do so much of it.”
Artie laughed as she shared, “Cows won’t wait just for weekends, and Keith works in Jefferson City.”
“We keep about 25 percent of our A.I. calves each year,” Don continued. “We sell to commercial herds so we look for what will appeal to other Angus breeders, in the bloodline. We also look for momma cows that produce the best. We feed bulls 16 pounds a day, eight pounds twice a day and they gain an average of 3.5 to 4.5 pounds a day. Of course, in this hot weather, it may not be quite that much. We weigh our bulls about every 30 days to see how they’re doing. We like them to be about 1,100 pounds as yearlings.
“The bulls we buy come from a ranch outside of Koshkonong. We really appreciate that the bulls we get from those folks are always so gentle.”
Although both Don and Artie grew up in large families – he was one of 10 and Artie had 12 in her family – they have just one son and one daughter and five grandchildren. Don spent 40 years driving a truck on a chip route and Artie was a banker for as many years.
“Don was so excited when we bought the farm in 1972, just 20 acres at that time.  And then we added on 17 more and then 30.” Today, with their son, they farm a total of 215 acres and rent another 120. They have 70 cows and 11 heifers.
“I’m the only one of my brothers and sisters who ended up in farming even though that’s the way we grew up. I don’t know. Maybe the others are a lot smarter than me,” he added with a smile.
Artie reminisced, “Keith was 16 when we moved back to the farm and at first, he hated it. But after college, getting married and having kids, now he loves it. He puts out a newsletter twice a year to all our customers and I think that really helps, because other than that we don’t advertise.”        
“I tease him,” Don added, “and tell him, Artie and I wear the hard hats around here and we work cheap!”
However the Hughes characterize their operation, it has proved successful in many areas, including that they have three Pathfinder cows registered with the Angus Association. “That’s a cow that has to calve every 365 days and meet various other criteria as lined out by the association,” Don explained. “If you’re an Angus buyer, it means a lot.”
They are also the home of Hewey, the 2004 Grand Champion of the Arkansas State Fair.  That same bull took second that year at the Missouri State Fair at Sedalia.
“I like going out in the spring as the calves are born,” Artie concluded. “It’s exciting, watching, looking for them. Better than hunting Easter eggs. That’s one of the best things about raising cattle, there are so many different sides to it. There is something for everybody.”


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