The Wrinkle family has been raising cattle for more than 100 years in Laclede County, Mo. Pictured, from left, are Thomas, Addalynne, Tom and Aaron Wrinkle. Photo by Laura L. Valenti
The Wrinkle family has been raising cattle for more than 100 years in Laclede County, Mo. Pictured, from left, are Thomas, Addalynne, Tom and Aaron Wrinkle. Photo by Laura L. Valenti.

Generations of the Wrinkle family has raised cattle in Laclede County, Mo. 

LEBANON, MO. – Aaron Wrinkle and his family, including the generation before and the one coming after him, stay busy on their century farm of 70 acres in eastern Laclede County, just outside of Lebanon, Mo.  They have a cow/calf operation of approximately 30 head, which includes both registered Charolais and commercial cattle. In recent years, they have also become involved with club calves. In addition to the acreage they own, they rent another 200 plus acres.

For the Wrinkle family, raising cattle is a long-standing family tradition. 

“My father Delbert Wrinkle, as well as B.T. Wrinkle, my grandfather, were also involved with raising beef cattle here,” Tom Wrinkle, Aaron’s dad shared. “I also milked for several years.”

The Wrinkles grow and cut their own hay, about 250 to 300 bales a year, and maintain a grazing program. 

“We do a lot of mob grazing or really intensive grazing with cross-fencing,” Aaron explained.

The original Wrinkle homestead was near Richland, starting around 1850.  

Tom and Aaron have always worked off the farm in addition to their agricultural pursuits. Tom worked at Bill’s Farm and Home for nearly 20 years and has also worked with electrical suppliers for one of the contractors at Fort Leonard Wood. Aaron has worked for the Laclede County Water District No. 3 for many years. 

The Wrinkle family Charolais cattle. Photo by Laura L. Valenti.
Photo by Laura L. Valenti

The Wrinkles AI all of their heifers and also do embryo transfer, using purchased, frozen embryos. 

“We keep about 95 percent of our heifers each year and sell off the older cows that no longer quite fit our breeding program as we want to be aware and not get into problems with inbreeding,” Aaron said. ”There are some folks that like to have the genetic lines we have going here, too. We have some recipient cows for the frozen embryos that we buy and we use our registered Charolais bulls for our commercial cows. It’s through the AI that we got into the club calves.

“We are working on building up our herd right now with the club calves, using AI with our own stock, but we only do four or five a year. We are breeding our club calves right now for our own kids to show so we are not marketing any. We only show the steers and we keep the heifers to breed back to the club calf bulls.

The club calf was developed, beginning in the 1970s, Aaron explained. 

“Through cross-breeding, the idea was to develop the best-looking calf for the show ring that would also carry the best traits for meat,” he said. “The basic concept is to bring together the best traits of multiple breeds. Sometimes, you actually get a better cow or steer in this way than you might with a purebred animal.” t

Club calves receive a specially mix ration from a Sarcoxie, Mo. mill.

“We are looking for a daily rate of gain of at least 3 1/2 pounds a day, Aaron explained. “What we really want, of course, is the most weight gain in the shortest amount of time. We grain our cow/calf pairs twice a day and keep them in good shape but it is not a specific program like what we do for the club calves. We are just getting into this whole club calf breeding thing, learning as we go.”

Photo by Laura L. Valenti

In addition to the cattle operation, the Wrinkles also have a growing beef business. 

“We do what we call, gate to plate here,” Aaron said. “We sell a few steers each year to individual customers for butchering, which we sell by the half or the whole steer.”

The Wrinkle family is also gearing up for the next generation on the farm.

“We are looking forward to getting the next generation involved in the farm and the raising of the animals. We call my youngest Gus (4) ‘The Boss,’ and this last year all my kids, Thomas (16), Kaidynace (15), Addalynne (13) and Gus, showed market hogs or market steers at the county fair.”


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