John L. Stevenson retired from the Army in 1974. He moved to his 400-acre farm in Webster County, near Marshfield, Mo., in 1975 and has been raising cattle ever since.
“I had some Brangus a long time ago,” John said. But he decided to go with registered Angus.
“My bloodline is more docile. The Brangus breed were a little flighty,” John explained. “I’ve had better luck with the Angus. If you try to sell bulls, you can’t really have the breeds inter-mixed, because people wonder what they’re getting.”
John has a cow/calf operation, with 120 cows. He said the Angus are easy keepers.
“You don’t have to pour a lot of grain into them,” he said. “They’re good mothers; they milk well; they breed back easy. A lot of the bigger breeds have a tendency to need a lot more tender loving care to get them to breed back,”
He utalizes articifial insemination with his herds, followed by a clean up bull.
“I pick out so many and AI them and then I put the bull with them,” he said. His reason for using AI is to select better quality.
“If you have something you’re looking to improve in your herd, you can do that with a bull over a short period of time,” John said.
He is trying to develop more muscling in some of his animals
“I use different bulls to come up with the different traits I’m looking for,” he said. “Basically, if I have a cow that’s not milking, I get rid of her. I don’t try to improve that too much because most of mine are good milkers. Once in a while you get one that’s not.”
His cows calve in the spring and the fall, but the majority are fall calvers.
There are specific traits John looks for in a good cow.
“She has to produce milk,” John said. “You want one that’s going to give you a calf every year. You want something that’s not going to require a lot of grain to get her through. Basically, one that stays in good shape and is a good mother. You can’t cull them after the first calf, especially with heifers. If they produce a complete dud, I’m not going to keep her around, but if it’s just mediocre then I’ll give it a second chance and usually their second calf is going to be a lot better.”
His advice for someone wanting to start and build an Angus herd is, start small and select quality animals.
“It’s a lot of work, keeping up all the weights and data, and the papers,” John added. “The Angus Association has a lot going on with them right now checking out different genetic defects in herds. So it takes a lot of paperwork.”
The biggest problem John believes the beef producers are facing today is price fluctuation.
“The price fluctuates so much in a short period of time,” he said. “Used to be the futures would go up a few pennies. Well, now they’ll go up $3 or $4 or down $4 or $5 dollars. It’s hard to know what to do.”
John likes to take cattle to the special Wean Vac sales, usually at Springfield Livestock Marketing Center in Springfield, Mo., but he has taken some to Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage, Mo.
“Wean Vac is where you go through and vaccinate all your calves and have them weaned for 45 days. They are supposed to have two rounds of shots,” John explained. “It’s a special sale and the buyers like those cattle because they know they’ve had all those shots and they don’t have to worry about them getting sick.”
Black is hot in the summer months and black cattle are no different.
“The heat affects them a lot this time of year,” John said. “You need a lot of shade for them. It sets them back. They’re not going to be out eating when it’s hot, so it’s going to cut back on their weight gain. But in the wintertime they do extremely well in the cold weather.”