Thanks to a donated heifer 10 years ago,  Shelby Skinner developed a passion for cattle

Sometimes, in order for someone to succeed in life, all they need is a chance.
Thanks to the generosity of some Missouri Limousin cattle breeders, Shelby Skinner landed her chance when she was a freshman in high school.
“No one in my family ever had show cattle or registered cattle. I came home and told my parents one day that I was going to show and they looked at me like I was crazy,” recalled Shelby.
Starting from that moment, Shelby pursued her dream of showing cattle. She received a show heifer through a program offered at the time by the Heartland Limousin Association. After one show season, Shelby was hooked and well on her way to fulfilling her dream of raising cattle.
In the years to come, Shelby would start building her own registered herd on her family farm in Bolivar, Mo.
“I would learn by working for, and listening to, experts in the cattle industry,” said Shelby.
It’s been 10 years since Shelby first started showing Limousin cattle and her passion for the cattle business is at an all-time high. She has won many shows, including division, reserve and champion heifer at the national level. Last spring, Shelby graduated from Oklahoma State University with a double major in animal science and agriculture communications. While studying at OSU, she worked at the OSU Purebred Beef Center.
“I learned a lot there in terms of management, breeding cattle and knowing what type of cattle works in different environments,” explained Shelby.
Currently, the 24-year-old works tirelessly to build her own herd of registered Limousin, registered Angus and LimFlex cattle. She operates her herd under the name Shelby Skinner Cattle. Shelby keeps her herd small in order to focus on putting together “cow families” that suit her criteria.
“Right now I am building a cowherd based on striving to make great females, because I am a small operation I can do that,” Shelby explained. She uses embryo transplant to acquire the genetics she desires.
One of Shelby’s national champion heifers serves as a donor cow for her herd. She also purchases embryos to get the genetics she wants for her operation.
“Embryo transplant is major here, most of our cows are recips. We have found certain cattle that we like and we want more of them,” Shelby explained.
Shelby will go to great lengths to find out about a bull before deciding whether to use him in her program.
“I study a lot of pedigrees. I do a lot of research as far as breeding decisions and I ask a lot of people for advice,” said Shelby.
“As far as breeding, it depends on the cow. When you look at a herd bull, you have to look at the cow’s EPDs, breeding and phenotype. I have never bred to a bull that I have not seen in person.”
Shelby’s future plan is to build her herd to 150 to 200 cows and to have 50 bulls a year to sell. Presently, she’s hired by the country’s top cattle companies to work in their show barns.
Shelby says she is fortunate to be able to soak up knowledge from experts in the cattle industry.
“I always have my ears open, that is how I learn,” she explained.
Shelby attributes all her achievements to people in the cattle industry who have shared their thoughts and talents with her through the years. Shelby encourages people new to the cattle business to search out mentors.
“If you’re starting out in agriculture and no one else in your family knows anything about agriculture, you need to find people who know what they are doing and pick their brains,” Shelby recommended.
She added that she never ceases asking questions and learning from others. She also credits her successes to her parents.
“I cannot do this without my parents. They care for my cattle. They do a lot of the work,” said Shelby.


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