Orie McCune’s family continues with his dream at Cedar Bluff Farm

Cedar Bluff Farm is a three-generation cattle farm located in Jasper, Mo. Joan McCune-Wilson and her late husband Orie McCune purchased the first 80 acres of the farm in the early 1960s and completed the purchase of the rest of the section in 1980.

They ran Hereford and Santa Gertrudis cross cattle.

“We are living his dream,” Joan said. “He dreamed as a boy growing up of putting this section together and making it a livestock farm.”

Orie passed away in 1992.

“When he passed away the last of January and the mother cows started freshening in January, I oversaw 67 and had a perfect calf crop,” Joan recalled.

She continued with the farm and maintained the herd of cattle by renting the crop land and working out a purchase deal to have the cattle herd too.

The family farm is currently operated by Joan, her daughter Suzanne Russell, and her husband Mark Russell, and their children Caleb Russell, wife Kelsey Russell and Molly Russell. Suzanne and Mark, both retired teachers, still work part-time in the school system. Caleb teaches ag and serves on the board of directors as the president for the Braunvieh Association of America. Kelsey, a former ag teacher, teaches preschool and operates the farm’s Facebook page, and Molly is a junior high math teacher. Caleb, Kelsey and Molly also show the cattle, and Kelsey and Molly are advisors for the Junior Braunvieh Association. Together, they all work on the farm to produce quality Braunvieh cattle.

Caleb and Molly started helping on the farm at a young age and bought a couple of Braunvieh calves from a neighbor to start raising as a youth project in 4-H and FFA. They have continued the operation, which consists of around 61 head of cattle. “Part of my thinking was, if we’re going to raise beef, lets raise good beef,” Suzanne said.

For the last 14 years, the family has raised Braunvieh cattle. They currently run purebred and commercial cattle and hope to expand their operation.

“It’s not one as well known, so especially since I’ve gotten out of college, I’ve been more driven to not only promote it but breed quality cattle that are going to not only hold their own against other breeds but still maybe fill a niche that some other breeds can’t,” Caleb said.

Most of their cattle are sold in production and consignment sales as well as being sold privately off the farm.

“We’re not focused as much on trying to sell a large amount of cattle a year, probably we’re focused more on trying to raise the best quality that we can,” Caleb  added.

During bull selection, especially if AI’ing, the Russells use bulls that have been proven in other operations for a pretty lengthy amount of time. Caleb remembers in college an industry leading individual saying, “Muscle is only a generation away.”

Their focus is on top-quality structure and top-quality phenotype and once that’s established, they start adding in the higher growth and higher performing kind of genetics. He said their longevity is what gives them edge over a lot of other breeds.

The family believes structural integrity and structural correctness along with being extremely fertile are good breeding stock qualities. Their cattle calve in the spring and fall, and are weaned based on age instead of weight; generally, at 4 to 6 months.

Most all females are retained for breeding stock if they meet their quality structure and breed and soundness exams.

Molly, who went to an AI school in September, said they currently AI on the farm and are in the beginning stages of utalizing embryo transfer.

“The more information you have, the more intelligent your decisions can be,” Suzanne said.

They also use a non-invasive blood test with next-day results called Bio Pryn, which is primarily used for pregnancy testing.

Their cows are rotationally grazed on grass, and calves are hand fed a 12-percent ration. They are fed protein supplement lick tubs and show cattle are fed a show feed ration that they mix on their own. Mark jokingly stated their cattle nutrition consists of “Maneval’s super-secret feed.” A Purina line of seasonal minerals is also incorporated.

When talking about working cattle, Kelsey laughed and advised, “Never take to heart what’s said when working cows.”

There’s not a day that goes by there’s not at least one if not two sets of eyes that sees every cow on the place. They feel knowing their animals helps in having a successful cattle farm.

Molly believes you can apply pretty much anything you’ve learned on the farm somewhere and that there’s a lot of things that are very humbling because you’ve seen the good and the bad. She said that going out and looking at the baby calves is always exciting no matter how old you are.

They commented there is a lot of knowledge out there if you’re just willing to listen. The family takes each situation individually as it comes and believes that you need to be willing to be a lifelong learner with it because it is constantly progressing and changing.

As the family continues to raise cattle and operate the farm, they are living Orie’s dream.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here