Devin Fisher and her children raise show-quality cattle on a forage-based diet
Devin Fisher and her three kids run about 120 momma cows on 205 acres in a scenic area of Barry County, Mo.
Simmental, Sim-influence and Red Angus cows make up most of Devin’s herd. She crosses the Red Angus back with a purebred Simmental bull to get half bloods.
“We have a pretty good market for the red bulls so that’s what we shoot for with that cross,” Devin said.
They also have a purebred Shorthorn.
“We got her simply for genetics to try to get color. We have a couple roans. She’s a purebred Shorthorn and then we have a couple that are a percentage and then you cross those back. Everyone likes the roan look in the Simmentals so we have good luck selling those. You can eventually breed up (to Simmental) but that takes four generations if you continue to breed to purebred and hopefully (keep the roan pattern).” Devin explained.
She and her kids enjoy showing; steers as county fair projects, and bulls and heifers as advertisement for the operation.
“The steers we’re not very particular about; we really like the Herefords; they’re easy to deal with but we have some friends that help us out as far as breaking cattle and stuff because I run this show on my own,” Devin said. “We buy our steers from local producers that we show with.”
Devin’s oldest daughter, Hayden, is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, so this was her last year to show due to aging out. Devin’s 15-year-old son, Gunnar, goes to Aurora and is involved in FFA. He and his 4-year-old sister Brynli enjoy showing and help around the farm.
“My kids are a huge part of the farm. My daughter (Hayden) leaving the house was a big impact for all of us. She doesn’t get to come back as much as she used to but she was my right hand on everything that we did; from getting cattle in, to working, tagging. No matter what it was, she was old enough to pick up and roll on with me. My son is now coming into that role and learning. For me, keeping your family involved in the operation is very important because there’s not a lot of that left anymore.” Devin said.
In addition to running her operation, Devin also has a full-time job off the farm working for the city of Aurora as city clerk and human resources director.
Devin graduated from a small school in Southwest Missouri in a community that didn’t have a lot of the amenities that many of the larger schools had. Not only did she grow up on a farm but she also grew up milking cows for a local dairy farmer.
“That was my job instead of working fast food; I milked cows before school,” she said.
Devin’s father used to background steers for a cattle company so she got plenty of cattle experience growing up.
“I got my first cow at 7,” she said with a smile.
After high school, Devin got her accounting degree, which gave her a great foundation for her cattle operation.
“Accounting has really helped me with numbers and being able to throw a spreadsheet together for cattle which, of course, saves money because you’re not purchasing off-the-wall programs. I am actually using a lot of those skills in my operation that I gained from college.” Devin said.
Devin started out as a commercial producer but when the market got high she sold out, keeping just her best heifers and then adding quality registered animals.
“We went with Simmental just simply because of the maternal traits that they carry and their docility and their calves seem to grow really well around here,” she said.
Devin employs a rotational grazing program.
“The one thing that I’ve learned about grazing pastures is to rotate them accordingly,” she said. “Your cows will follow you whenever you’re ready to rotate; they know it’s time to move on to the next pasture. I don’t do it intense, but I do do it properly.”
Devin will graze about 20 to 25 acres at a time. When it is time to move them, they just walk their cattle up the road from one pasture to the next.
While they raise show-quality cattle, they don’t do any bulk feeding or any feeding program that could potentially cause foot or maintenance problems in the future.
Their cows are on a grazing program and cattle coming out of the show pen are expected to be cows in that program.
“We don’t have to worry about them calving and then going downhill because they’re used to a feed ration,” Devin explained. “If they can’t be kicked out after a show to make a cow, we don’t need them.”
She would like to expand in the future but not necessarily to add more cattle.
“There’s another farm right down the road that I would like to acquire to grow so that we can continue with what we’re doing,” Devin said. “We do plan on growing and increasing; not so much in quantity but in quality.”
Devin sells about 20 bulls a year and most of what she sells is marketed privately. She has customers who have been coming back to her for bulls for the last seven years and she would like to continue to improve her genetics to keep bringing her customers back.
“Spending money on a good bull really increases your productivity in your operation. You can take a generic cow and put a good bull on her that’s got really good numbers and really change your crop,” Devin explained. “Sometimes spending that extra money on a bull will pay off in the end.”