John D. and Autumn Fuhrman build heifers that will go on to be productive, profitable cows
In 2011, Bar JAF Partnership was established by John D. and Autumn Fuhrman. Owned and operated by the husband and wife team, Bar JAF Partnership is a commercial cow/calf operation and marketing/design services provider in Northeast Oklahoma.
John was raised east of Harrison, Ark., on a commercial cow/calf operation. He graduated from Arkansas Tech University and then managed Dollars Diamond D, a registered Fleckvieh operation in central Arkansas for more than 15 years before relocating to Oklahoma in 2012.
Autumn was raised just east of Miami, Okla., on a registered Tarentaise cow/calf operation that is now the headquarters of the livestock division of the partnership. After graduating from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and then Oklahoma State University, Autumn accepted the director of communications position with the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) in Little Rock, Ark. Autumn worked in-house for the ACA including managing their monthly publication, Arkansas Cattle Business, for five years before relocating back to Oklahoma in 2012.
Autumn also provides marketing and design services to local and out-of-state businesses.
“My goal is to assist agricultural businesses or organizations through the development of more effective and professional communications,” Autumn said. “With the ongoing advancement of technology related to communications, it is more important than ever to make sure that when you’re communicating to anyone as a business or organization, you do so in a professional and personable manner.”
The Fuhrman’s cattle operation began when they had the opportunity to relocate from Central Arkansas to Northeast Oklahoma and purchase a piece of family ground.
Their herd consists of high-percentage Tarentaise and Red Angus/Tarentaise cross cows. They purchase Red Angus and Hereford bulls from reputable breeders in the region.
Tarentaise is a medium-framed continental beef breed originating from France. They are primarily known for milking ability and moderate size. The Tarentaise stock comes from the collaboration of Bar JAF Partnership and Ankenman Trust, which is represented by Autumn’s mother, Sandy Ankenman.
“We work together towards one common goal: producing quality commercial cattle that we can be proud to sell to other livestock producers,” John said. “We cull hard and won’t sell anything to a fellow producer that we wouldn’t keep on our place.”
The Fuhrmans take pride in producing females that will go on to make a productive, profitable cow. As far as bull selection, they firmly believe that investing in quality genetics from trusted seedstock producers can make a huge difference in the outcome of their calf crop.
“It pays to do your research and select bulls that meet your requirements. And it also pays to buy a bull from someone that successfully produces and develops bulls for a living. We have faith in our cattle and their maternal abilities, and we know what percentage of their environment we can control, but the cow can only do so much with the genetics she has to work with,” said John.
John and Autumn also believe hybrid vigor is hard to ignore when it comes to pounds and dollars.
“For us, strategic crossbreeding will typically produce a more consistent, marketable product when we use quality registered Red Angus or Hereford bulls on our Tarentaise or Tarentaise-cross cattle. Cattle people will almost always be able to identify a percentage Red Angus or percentage Hereford calf.”
John keeps the herd healthy and productive by utilizing a consistent mineral program, a comprehensive vaccination program, and by paying close attention to the condition and behavior of the cattle. The Fuhrmans also have a great working relationship with a few top-notch veterinarians, their local Farmers Cooperative Association (FCA), as well as a professional nutritionist.
“We work closely with the best nutritionist in the country – Jim Hollenback with the FCA. Jim helps us ensure that we are supplementing our cattle in a way that will maximize profits,” John said.
John plans the herd’s breeding schedule to calve in the spring and in the fall. The bulls are turned out for 60 days.
“We are always trying to tighten the calving window because we know it’s easier to market consistent calves not just in appearance, but age and weight also,” said John.
Cattle are separated by age and/or calving group. The virgin heifers and developing heifers are kept separately also. Calves are weaned at 7-8 months of age, depending on circumstances like the market, weather, season and amount of available forage.
“I work with our nutritionist to make sure we are giving these cows/heifers/calves what they need to do their job,” John said. “It really depends on the cattle, time of year, current conditions and the body condition goal of the specific groups of cattle on how much our cattle are fed.”
They utilize commercial fertilizer and chemical annually to maximize forage production – so the cattle graze improved pasture and John puts up all their hay for the winter every year. Depending on the time of year, they supplement with a 14-16 percent commodity mix from the FCA.
Developing heifers and first-calf heifer pairs are typically fed daily as well as any weaned calves at weaning time. Weaned calves are fed in the morning and evening to enhance average daily gain.
John and Autumn strongly believe in the importance of being involved in agricultural organizations. They are active members of their local, state and national cattlemen’s associations, as well as two additional out-of-state cattlemen’s associations. They also appreciate their friends and neighbors who all make time to help each other and know they can depend on each other.
“We rely on our colleagues and friends in the livestock industry, both locally and nationally. We bounce ideas around and share things that have been attempted and worked or things that we have tried and didn’t work. Knowing that we can feel comfortable sharing information and learning from each other is invaluable to us. The number of people like us, that are making a living in agriculture, keeps getting smaller and smaller. We can’t afford not to help each other,” said John.
The Fuhrman’s personal connection with the ACA has really opened their eyes to the importance of supporting these groups.
“While we enjoy the networking and educational aspects of these organizations, what is equally important to us is the legislative representation. These good people are looking out for our best interests every single day in Washington, DC, and at our state capitols. With support from producers, they can continue to monitor and act on issues that will affect us so that we can stay on our home operations and do what we love,” Autumn said.
“We’d like to encourage all livestock producers, no matter how big or small, to join your local, state and national cattlemen’s associations. And know that it’s OK to be involved in whatever capacity you can. Even if that’s just by paying the annual dues. Unfortunately, agriculture is under constant scrutiny and we must attempt to educate the general public about what we do and stick together to defend the industry that we have devoted our lives to,” John said.
“We balance all aspects of the partnership when we can. Really, we just do what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter what day of the week or hour of the day. The cattle side is very dependent on the weather and season. The marketing/design side is deadline-driven each month. Autumn helps me when she can, and I help her when I can. Which makes the word ‘partnership’ very relevant and important to us,” John said.