Good bulls don't cost, they pay – according to Monte ShockleyMonte Shockley Jr. of Poteau, Okla., is one of the new generation of ranchers. At age 29, Monte already oversees a successful herd sire operation specializing in horned Herefords.
Monte’s father and mother, Monte Sr. and Rita, started the Shockley ranching tradition, purchasing land around Poteau in chunks.
“Right now, we’ve got 350 acres,” said Monte. “We acquired the land over time in the 40s, 60s and 80s. This is all good development land, and there are not a lot of places close to town that big.”
As the Shockleys accumulated more and more plots of land, they added cattle. In 1998, they decided to specialize in Hereford herd sires.
“We had 10 cows and decided to go attend AI school,” said Monte. “Out of those original 10 cows, we’ve now got 105 momma cows that we know every pedigree of, and can trace them all back to the original cows.”
Shockley sees the Hereford’s mild temperament and the increased vigor of Hereford hybrid calves as the breed’s key strong points. “We cull pretty hard for temperament,” Monte said. “The only free lunch is hybrid vigor. Hereford bulls on Angus cows or the other way around.” Monte cites a research project which showed hybrid calves sired by Hereford bulls increasing weight more economically. “At the end, they showed the Hereford calves about $78 a head over other calves.”
Quality and consistency are what Monte strives for in his breeding program.
“We artificially inseminate (AI) every cow, and buy semen from the best bulls in the country,” said Monte. “We put in a lot of time and expense to get the best genetics. Because of that, we can sell a consistent, predictable bull. Before that it took years to get, but we can do it quicker now. With AI, we can determine when the calves are born.”
Monte says the bulls wean-off at over 700 pounds and grow over 2,000 pounds, but they take steps to keep the animals docile. “All our bulls are hand fed and gentle,” said Monte.
One bull patrolling the Shockley pastures, Golden Norman Domino, has quite a story of his own. Born 2 months premature, Domino is the youngest calf on record to survive, and spent months at Oklahoma State before he could make it on his own in the pasture. “He came out the size of a house cat,” said Monte. “He’s a quality herd bull now – a breeding machine.”
Monte says that tougher economic times cause ranchers to be more careful with their dollars, which actually helps his operation in some ways.
“People are willing to pay money for good genetics and consistency,” said Monte. “Good bulls don’t cost, they pay. We’ve got a closed herd, good health, and our vaccination and disease prevention program is second to none.”
Monte says that passion and family support are important to running a successful ranch. “It’s a 24-hour-a-day job. You’ve got to love cattle and livestock to do well,” Monte explained. “The cattle’s needs come ahead of yours. It helps to have a supportive wife who understands that.”
Monte said there’s been a lot of dinners missed when the cattle call, but it takes a team to build a successful operation.


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