Devin and Bailey Keltner find that diversifying into beef and dairy cattle gives them an economic advantage

Question: What do you get when you combine an Angus herd and a Simmental herd? Answer: A happy marriage, of course. Just ask Devin and Bailey Keltner. When the two wed three years ago they merged their herds. Devin brought his registered Angus herd to the marriage and Bailey contributed her purebred Simmentals.
“Simmentals have been in my life since the day I was born. I named one Tinkerbelle when I was 2 or 3 years old. I bought my first registered Simmental in 2003. I showed her at some county fairs,” explained Bailey Keltner.
Devin shares his wife’s life-long passion for cattle and farming. Devin grew up on a farm milking Holsteins and raising Angus cattle. “I had helped milk since kindergarten or first grade. I saved up my money. My goal was that before I started high school, I wanted to have my own herd,” said Devin. And he did. At just 15 years old, Devin bought five registered Angus cows.
The couple now runs around 30 momma cows on 140-acres of rented property in Clever, Mo. They also help Devin’s father milk 30 Holstein cows. Off the farm, Devin works in sales at Springfield Pump and Bailey teaches junior high science for the Galena school district – all this, while rearing their 15-month-old son, Brantley. “It has been my life goal to raise my kids the way I was raised. My son lights up when he sees a cow or a tractor and it makes my day,” said Devin with pride.
The Keltners embrace the challenges of simultaneously working on a beef and a dairy operation. “It is diversification, which is always good,” explained Bailey. When the beef market is down, the dairy market may be up and vice versa. Devin and Bailey find balance by dabbling in both areas. Ultimately, the farm work boils down to more than dollars. “It is more of a lifestyle, all the family working together. I enjoy that,” commented Devin.
Devin and Bailey are currently in the process of building up their beef cattle herd. The couple culled heavily a couple of years ago due to the drought. The Keltners AI their momma cows to Angus bulls. Yes, even Bailey’s Simmentals get bred to an Angus bull. “He (Devin) said, ‘I am not running a Simmental bull’ and I said, ‘Okay, a calf is a calf,’” explained Bailey with a laugh. When it comes to picking the perfect Angus bull, Devin looks for key characteristics that will boost their herd. “I shoot mainly for milk in EPDs because that is something my herd is lacking. I shoot for moderate frames because bigger frames eat more. Another thing I look for in selecting a bull is one that is free of genetic defects, so that I don’t have to blood test all my calves,” said Devin. The Keltners keep almost all their heifer calves as replacements and sell their bulls at 18-months-old through Craigslist. “We sell bulls to commercial guys who need a good bull,” said Devin.
Devin and Bailey fertilize about 25-acres of hay ground each spring. However, they do not fertilize their pastures. Instead, in the winter they roll out hay in the pastures for their cattle. In the spring, they cut down a cedar tree, attach it to the back of their tractor and drag the remaining hay and manure through the fields. “It will spread out the leftover hay and manure and adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil,” explained Devin. In years past, they attached a harrow to the tractor to spread the organic matter but they found the cedar tree works better.
Recently, the couple purchased a farm in Stone County, where they plan to move and grow their beef cattle herd. “Our long-term goal would be to have a big enough herd to quit our jobs and just farm,” said Devin. Both Devin and Bailey exude a heart for farming and they hope their son will carry on that family tradition. “My son is going to be a consumer and producer. He is going to be aware of all the different situations and regulations, and be culturally aware of what is going on and the importance of agriculture. I am proud of what we do,” said Bailey.
If you ever visit the Keltner’s farm, take a long look at their SimAngus calves and realize the calves are more than a combination of two breeds but rather a symbol of marital bliss.


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