Monte Miller grew up as a farm kid but only showed cattle in 4-H one time.
“I got a ribbon for fourth place and I was so proud. Years later my dad told me there was only four in that class.”
When Monte was young, they raised hogs, Polled Hereford cattle and grew milo, soybeans, corn and alfalfa on the 100-acre family farm in Jasper, Mo., his dad Jerry Miller had purchased in the late 1960s. His dad started out with 25 head of cattle and grew the herd as time went on.
Monte and his dad together purchased their first Beefmaster bulls in 1985 because Monte had liked the Brahman influence and the way they looked and acted.
When Monte graduated high school he moved to Joplin, Mo., and took a construction job because “it never seemed like there was enough income to supply us all” he said.
He never really felt the desire to continue farming when he was younger and could not wait to get off the farm, but said, “Here I am back.”
During his 25 years away from the farm, he still often returned and helped his dad with the cattle.
In 1999, he started to take more of an interest in cattle farming and drove almost every day from Joplin to check the cows. His dad sold the farm in 2008 when he retired and moved to town. Monte kept the cattle and continued to rent the pasture ground from the new owners. Still living in the heart of Joplin, Mo., in 2011, Monte and his wife Tammi lost their home in the Joplin tornado. A few years later, in 2014, the rare opportunity arose for them to buy back his dad’s farm. They jumped at the offer and are glad to be back on the family farm.
“When I moved back up here to start taking care of the cows, every neighbor remained when I had left 30 years prior. Everybody was in the same house,” he said.
With rented ground included, Monte currently has 400 acres of pasture ground and runs 100 cow/calf pairs. He is a member of the Beefmaster Breeders United and the Red River performance group. The Red River has a bull performance test and sale in Bonham, Texas, they attend once a year. Three of their bulls have participated in the event the last several years. They take the bulls down to Texas and while competing in the performance test, the bulls are given three months of grazing, a month of high-ruffage commodity silage and then grain to be finished out. After the test completion Monte sells the bulls and purchases others while they are in Texas or looks toward his second-choice bulls in Colorado.
All of their cattle are vaccinated semi-annually and are naturally bred, calving in spring and fall. Calves are weaned the first of November for spring born and the first of April for fall born and are marketed at three to six weeks after weaning. Seventy-five percent of the calves go to market at the Deerfield Cattle Company in Deerfield, Mo. Monte would eventually like to incorporate artificial insemination to improve genetics in his herd but currently looks for good disposition, confirmation and fertility in his breeding stock.
His nutrition program consists of Purina mineral, lick tubs and grass pasture, and hay for the older cows. He raises fescue, lespedeza and ladino clover on his pasture ground. For weaned calves, he purchases grain and better hay, such as Bermuda, alfalfa and bluestem. In the spring he drags pastures and mows the ground and hires out his fertilizer application while incorporating rotational grazing everywhere that he can.
These last few months have been difficult for the cattle industry and Monte is concerned about the demand for protein changing and the animal rights issues with the implementation of more restrictions on cattle farmers. Pasture ground being worked up and turned into row crop ground is also a worry of his.
Monte still works construction off the farm and Tammi is a chiropractor assistant. Good time management, some help from a friend to work the cattle and often times late hours are the key to maintaining an off-the-farm job while raising cattle.
Monte said his dad had the biggest influence on him regarding cattle. “He was great with animals. He had a lot more patience than I have.”
For anyone wanting to start raising cattle Monte said, “Go at it cautiously and do not get in debt. Be ready for anything. Things don’t always turn out quite the way you’ve planned them.”