Dr. David Holt offers bull customers Red Angus and Charolais genetics

Dr. David Holt is not only a veterinarian in Ozark, Ark., but also a cattleman with 75 momma cows; some registered Charolais, some registered Red Angus and some commercial Charolais/Brahman/Simmental.

He produces breeding bulls, which he sells by private treaty or at bull sales, and commercial beef sold at regular auctions in McAlester, Okla.

“I like my Charolais because of the muscle leanness and rate of gain. Red Angus, on the other hand, is something different for me to work with in addition to being popular and cross calves selling well.”

Typically, David AIs his cattle with two breeding seasons which occur June 15 to Sept. 1, and Jan. 1 to March 1. He used the semen from the same bull for Red Angus but picked Charolais semen according to each cow. Then if a particular bull produces a good calf on a particular cow, he repeats the pairing.

“I want variety in the Charolais and am experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. If a combination works, I don’t want to change it.” David said.

In the past, David sold calves in large groups in Oklahoma City. At that time, he used only spring calving, weaned in the fall, maintained throughout the winter on hay and sold steers annually the following fall after pasturing them during the spring and summer. Now, however, he sells his cattle in McAlester which is closer and has a highly competitive commission rate that better matches his current pattern which is two breeding seasons and shorter retention span. Further, all heifers are retained with those eventually culled also sold in McAlester

“I have two breeding seasons now because of the drought upsetting the breeding pattern and because I purchased Red Angus bred heifers in September 2016,” David said.

David’s father, Rufus, bought land in Mountainburg, Ark., in the 1940s and continued to purchase bits and pieces until the 1960s by which time he had accumulated 320 contiguous acres. David took over the land and cattle when his father passed in 2003. After graduating from vet school at LSU in 1987, David went on a call in 1989 to a farm in Ozark, Ark. While the son was helping David with the cows, he mentioned his dad was interested in selling. The 240 acres in Ozark was also contiguous but much more level than the mountainous up-and-down terrain of Mountainburg.

David’s biggest issue is time. At the home place for the last two years he has been cleaning the fence rows followed by re-fencing. Further, family health issues made using ET impossible the last six years, and he missed his June AI season this year because of scheduling.

Attention to detail and using best practices is critical for David in counterbalancing time pressure. One component of his land practice is fertilizing with commercial fertilizer according to soil tests performed every other year and fertilizing only when needed, a process that saves both time and money. Another example is not allowing cattle to graze on the same land set aside for haying which is 125 of his own acres plus another 115 he leases. According to David, if cows graze the land and the land is not hayed for a year, weed issues emerge and the resulting next year’s hay is of poorer quality hay due to weed content. In addition, all pastures are broadcast sprayed midsummer. Johnsongrass, Bermuda and rye grasses dominate the fields with the clover having been eliminated through herbicide use. David compensates cattle nutritional loss from a lack of clover using MoorMan’s free choice loose mineral.

“Not having clover is an advantage because the issue of cattle bloating from clover is eliminated,” David said.

He also believes in emasculating rather than banding or castrating. The process does not cause an open wound which occurs with castrating in addition to drawing flies and dirt. Emasculating is also more effective than banding since he doesn’t need to waste time by going back and correcting an unsuccessful banding.

David’s health protocols are fairly typical. He worms twice a year combining pour on and a long term injectable but strongly urges using Ivermectin rather than a generic since testing has proved its superior effectiveness. Further, David believes it is especially important to use a long-range wormer on weaned calves when they start grazing in the spring. He uses a general vaccine protocol against the bacterial components of respiratory infection with respiratory issues being his biggest concern due to the dry and dusty conditions common in our area. An important difference in his health protocol, however, is vaccinating the entire herd for black leg because adults can get a lethal and therefore expensive form of the disease. Finally, he vaccinates for pinkeye and is quick to point out that every breed is susceptible even though some are more so than others.

Pond water is used for cattle with one pond being spring fed. The health of the ponds is indicated by the fact that the water does not need to be treated for blue algae. The ponds are well maintained and deep enough so that water at the middle level can be piped into tanks in those pastures without water giving the cattle good, freshwater throughout the land with cost share programs utilized with the tank system and some fencing.

David has been experimenting with feed through a nutritionist in Little Rock. They have designed a feeding ration which includes no corn and, since January, no distillers grain. David is pleased with the results because it appears as if the same feed will now work for the entire herd. Calves previously were eating some of the mommas’ grain. David noticed their hide becoming dry and weight gain decreasing and searched for a solution. Those problems now appear to have abated with all of the herd performing well at a reasonable cost. As an example, David feeds each breeding bull 20 pounds of feed per day at a cost of only $49 per month.


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