Bob Moreland has worn many hats over the years. He’s been a rodeo cowboy, an ag lender, a bank president, a community leader, a realtor and a budding politician. However, there’s one job he has always had, being a cattleman. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

Polk County, Mo., producer has always had “a few cows”

BOLIVAR, MO. – Bob Moreland has worn many hats over the years. He’s been a rodeo cowboy, an ag lender, a bank president, a community leader, a realtor and a budding politician. However, there’s one job he has always had, being a cattleman. 

Bob grew up in Johnson County, Mo., on his family cow/calf and cropping operation. He rodeoed his way through Labette Community College in Kansas and chased his rodeo dreams for a while. He then enrolled at Pittsburg State University, obtained a finance degree, and began a career in banking. Bob retired as president of Commerce Bank in Bolivar in 2020 after more than 30 years in the industry, and he and his wife Marla own More-Land Reality in Bolivar, Mo. 

“Marla said I was too young to stay on the farm all day long,” Bob said with a grin. “So she made me get my real estate license when I retired.” 

Bob and Marla have a commercial cow/calf operation in Polk County, Mo. 

“Depending on where I was in my banking career, as time would allow or I had room, I always had a few cows,” Bob said. “Where I grew up, there was quite a bit of row crop ground, but we ran beef cows and Dad row cropped a little, mostly wheat and soybeans, but it was mostly a cow/calf operation.” 

The Moreland’s herd consists of Red Angus and Beefmaster cross cattle.

“I started with Red Angus cows out of South Dakota and ran some commercial cows with them,” Bob explained. “I put Beefmaster bulls on them, then started keeping heifers out of those crossbred cows.”

They run about 35 cows on 140 acres and utilize Red Angus/Beefmaster bulls.

“Reading about Beefmaster bulls, which are Hereford, Shorthorn and Brahman, that hybrid vigor interested me,” Bob said. “Our summers keep getting hotter, or we have a longer warm season, you don’t see them standing in the ponds or shade all day long. They are out grazing during different parts of the day.” 

He added that the Red Angus also tolerates the Ozarks heat well. 

“A lot of people like the black-hided cows, but I just kind of fell in love with the Red Angus years ago,” Bob said, adding that the addition of the red Beefmaster genetics has made a phenomenal cross for his operation. 

Bob is very selective regarding retained heifers.

“I keep my best one or two heifers, depending on if I need to cull a couple of cows in the next year,” Bob explained, adding that retained heifers are bred at about 14 or 15 months of age. “If my cows are looking good and nothing looks like it will age out, I will sell all my calves.” 

Calves are marketed as feeders at about 550 to 665 pounds and, depending on weather and market conditions, are sold around the first of November.

Because their acreage is limited, Bob and Marla optimize their land. Six years ago, they purchased 80-acres across the road from their home place. The property’s previous owner had implemented a rotational grazing system with electric fencing and automatic waters.

Cattle graze a paddock until forages are about 5 inches tall before moving to the next area. 

Until they purchased the property, the Morelands had not practiced rotational grazing.

“I had read about it and understood it but never did it,” Bob  said. “Now I can use the house place and the place across the road and rotate everything around. If we had just had 160 acres of open pasture, even if it was divided into two 80s, I probably would have had to sell cows by the first of August last year.”

The property also had a 15-acre grassy/alfalfa field. Bob hayed it for a couple of years, but as the alfalfa played out, it was incorporated into the grazing rotation. 

“That fall, before I brought it into the rotation, that summer, I drilled orchard grass in that cell, which is now my first rotation in the spring because it’s a cool weather grass,” Bob explained. “By the time they worked back around, it would be fall.” 

Cows are pasture-based, but some supplemental feed is offered.

“Because I don’t want wild cows, I cube my cows,” Bob said. “In the summertime, I cube them once a week, maybe once on the weekend or every other weekend to keep them gentle and coming up. In the winter, I roll out all of my hay because I don’t want my cows standing around in mud, and I will supplement with about 5 pounds per head of commodity grain.”

Bob added that his cows hold their condition, even without a lot of added grain. 

“Even with drought years, you can give them a marginal amount of hay if you give them the protein they need,” he said. 

The Moreland’s aren’t planning to expand their herd or look into other breeds. 

“I’m happy with what I’ve got going on right now,” Bob said. “I can’t see myself going to a purebred operation because you have to be in those groups to get the premium for them, or if you are looking to vertically integrate into selling farm-raised beef, you have to have the extra time or marketing.” 

Bob served as president of the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association for three years. The organization has worked with the Missouri Beef Days Board to build the annual Missouri Beef Days Celebration each May in Bolivar. He has also served on several other boards in Bolivar and Polk County over the years.

“Bob is very community service minded. He loves to give back to the community, and he is very focused on showing up and doing his part,” Marla said. “But, the farm is his happy place. I have always told people Bob was a businessman by necessity, but a farmer at heart. Raising cattle is a way of life he has chosen, and I feel like it gives him balance. I know he works hard to make sure our herd is healthy and well-tended, and I think watching spring calves running around full of vinegar is his reward. Raising cattle is simply something Bob loves to do.”

Bob has yet another hat he wears, which might be his favorite one. He was promoted to grandpa when son John Austin and his wife Katie welcomed daughter Charlotte earlier this year. 


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