Luke Peterson grew up with Charolais, but only recently returned to the registered business

Luke Peterson has lived in Mountain Grove, Mo., all his life.

He and his wife, Victoria, own two farms in Texas County. One he uses to run commercial cattle. The other he bought about two years ago. “I bought this farm from Larry Baney. He raised Charolais cows. I bought his farm and cows in one package. I grew up with Charolais cows and kind of got out of it and went to commercial,” Luke said. “He’s put generations of some of the best cows with some of the better bulls of the breed and built them up. I thought it was a good investment.”

Because he grew up raising and showing Charolais, this was a fit. He still has the commercial cattle and the herds are kept separate, but he uses Charolais bulls.

Luke likes the Charolais breed because of their growth pattern.

“They’ll put more pounds on a calf than any other breed and at the end of the day that’s what we sell: pounds. It doesn’t matter if you’re in sheep, hogs or chickens, you’re selling pounds,” he said.

When looking for a good Charolais cow, Luke explained, “She’s got to be able to milk and raise her own calf. I don’t creep feed these calves. The cow has to be able to do her job and sustain herself and raise a big, healthy calf.”

Luke believes the greatest asset of the breed is growth.

“You cross them on about any breed and the calves weigh about 60 to 70 pounds heavier,” he said. “The Charolais breed itself, as far as using Charolais bulls, has made a big comeback in the last five years or so. That’s just because the feedlot guys like those Charolais-cross calves because they just out-perform.”

Luke sells a lot of Charolais bulls and said people are always asking about their disposition.

“Everybody assumes they’re wild or mean,” Luke explained. “I have three ways of sorting them. First, they have to be good enough to be a bull. Then if he hasn’t got the disposition, he goes to the other pen. Then, if the legs aren’t fundamentally sound, they’re gone. By the time they are a yearling, I will have gone through them three or four times. If something’s not doing like it ought to; if it’s not growing to meet the standards, he gets culled out.”

As far as improvements to his herd, Luke wants to stay up with the higherend bulls.

“Your cows should be able to sustain themselves, if you’re doing a good job of picking through your heifers,” Luke said. “But you’ve always got to keep up with the registered end of things as far as what the new fad is or isn’t. The Charolais has changed quite a bit from when I was younger. They were taller and lankier. They were rough and they’d get big. They went to more of a finesse and shortened them some. Now they’re trying to grow them back up and get them bigger again.

“It’s a catch 22. To be in the ‘show’ world, you have to have some of that finesse. But as far as your commercial world, you just want a big, growth-type animal that’s going to put as many pounds on the ground as it can. We’re kind of in the middle. We’ve got the finesse and some very ‘showy’ cattle, but we also grow a lot of pounds. Our bulls grow out well and they don’t get just huge. I don’t feed them hard.”

He has 190 registered Charolais cows and about 150 commercial cows.

“I run a bunch of yearlings as well,” Luke explained. “I keep bulls on hand at all times, replacement heifers, show prospect heifers or bulls. On the commercial end of the cows, it’s a cow/calf operation except for the yearlings I put together and raise up. I buy cutting bulls and lightweight calves and take them on up to 800 pounds and re-sell them as a pot load.”


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