Dreyer Show Stock strives for productive, show-quality animals. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford

Dreyer Show Stock strives for productive, show-quality animals 

REPUBLIC, MO. – For the Dreyer family, agriculture is a way of life.

Dan and Patty Dreyer and their son Brian came to Republic, Mo., from California about three and a half years ago. Having family in the area and roots in the Show-Me State, the move allowed Dan and Patty to “slow down,” but the family is still very agriculture-oriented. 

In the Ozarks, the Dreyers run a sheep and cattle operation, focusing on show and seedstock production.

“Mom has always had sheep, and my parents ran a set of commercial cows and a permanent cropping operation in California, like citrus, grapes, olives and so forth,” Brian said. “We have all been around it all our lives, and there’s no other life besides raising show stock and helping customers. We have ramped up the program in the last couple of years to focus on quality livestock to provide opportunities for youth. If a kid has the want and the drive, we will work to provide an animal that will go the distance. If they want to go to the state fair and be competitive, we will try our best to get them an animal to do that.”

Having opportunities as a youngster himself inspired Brian and his family to follow their current production path.

“We were fortunate to have people who took me in as a young man and allowed me the opportunity to venture out and have the opportunity to take good cattle to the state fair or nationals,” Brian said. “Our focus is to provide opportunities to youth.”

The Dreyers own about 80 ewes. Fifty percent are black-faced ewes, typically a Hampshire/Suffolk cross, used in an intensive AI program.  

“Making those heterozygous crosses and using that heterozygosity within the program from the Hamp or Suffolk breed, we can cross those lines and allow the progeny to have a certain look and the right body and muscle shape by tapering every breeding to the individual,” Brian said. 

Dreyer Show Stock utilizes 10 donor ewes, and the balance of the flock are recipient ewes. Between 65 and 75 lambs are sold yearly as show prospects, while others are sold as breeding stock. Only a small percentage of the lamb crop is sold commercially.

“We have a type in mind,” Brian said. “If they don’t meet the expectation anymore, they aren’t going to be used in our program.”

Some of those ewes, however, may be kept as recips. 

“Those females that have a nice lamb, but not a great one, or who produce county-fair type lambs, we know they raise lambs that wean big, but maybe not high-quality lambs, so we will use those are recipients,” Brian said. “They earn their keep. Our recips are just as valuable as our donors.”

Because their flock has grown from the handful of ewes brought from California, the Dreyers know each animal’s lineage and progeny, and all breedings are well-planned.  Brian said it is not unusual for the same lines to be found on the top and bottom of an animal’s pedigree.

“You can get a lot of consistency,” Brian said. “We might go back two generations and use the same sire. We have narrowed down our genetics on our sheep flock and how many bucks we want to use.”

AI and ET have developed dramatically over the years, advancing the sheep industry.

“We lamb a big set in December, which will be from our July AI day, and then we will lamb right after the first of the year, and lamb about 50, 60 head, then a few clean-ups,” Brian said. “AI allows us to breed multiple ewes on a single day.”

Lambs born outside of December or January may become long-term show prospects or candidates for maternal retention. 

“We will let them develop until they are 6, 8, 10 months old,” he explained. “Those that don’t do what we want them to do will be cut at that time.”

Ewe lambs are bred as yearlings.

“We believe size and maturity helps a ewe do her job right,” Brian said. “When we ask a ewe to raise a lamb, we don’t want her to get to in a nutritional plane if she’s trying to grow herself. If she has hit her maturity point, she’s not going to be larger, and she has learned to meet her nutritional needs; she will do a better job raising those lambs. Also, their longevity in the flock becomes better.” 

Lambs are sold at 60 to 70 days of age, and the Dreyers depend on their ewes to give lambs a good start. 

“We still breed on phenotype; a female has to look like a female, do a good job milking and keeping themselves in good flesh,” Brian said. “We don’t pour a bunch of feed into them; they have to do good on grass. They are on a fescue/clover mix and utilize that fescue pretty well.

In the Ozarks, the Dreyers run a sheep and cattle operation, focusing on show and seedstock production. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford

“We believe sheep have to be sheep. We dry lot some for breeding purposes, and they will go into a controlled environment, but we believe the ewes need to be on grass. We aren’t going to take the real world out of them because they are show stock.”

The cattle herd consists of about 45 to 50 cows, including purebred Red Angus, Simmental and genetics for club calves. 

On average, the Dreyers sell between five and 10 heifers and steers, both purebred and crossbred, as show prospects annually.

“We will sell a few bulls as well,” Brian said. “Some of those that don’t exemplify the quality to be seedstock are marketed as commercial calves.

“The momma cow is very important around here; she has to be able to stay in flesh from grass. Our cows don’t see a lot of supplementation. We do creep feed calves, feed hay in the winter, and offer some supplements, but we want them to do well on forages.”

Like the sheep program, the Dreyers are very specific regarding pairings in their cattle herd.

“The Red Angus are mostly AI bred, and we run a Red Angus bull. We have a set of Maine/Chi-influenced cows and a few club calf cows,” Brian said. “The Red Angus is growing in popularity and does very well in this region; they convert grass well, do an awesome job as cows, and wean off big calves. We are running a three-quarter Maine-Anjou on our black cows, and all of the club cows, and he will be the cleanup for the recip cows. It’s nice to use him and get nice calves. His first set of heifers are in the replacement pen, and we are excited to see them hit production soon.”

Show-quality cattle may be a part of the Dreyers operation, but it’s not the only focus. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford

Superior maternal traits and longevity are also crucial in the bovine operation. At 12 years old, Brian’s first heifer is now a herd matriarch and was among a handful of females brought to the Ozarks from the Golden State. 

“There are eight other females, daughters or granddaughters, from that cow,” Brian said. “She has been flushed five or six times. She looks awesome, is very fleshy, and does well. We have also had success with those daughters; we have 50 or 60 embryos in the tank connected to her.

“It takes several years for a cow to pay for herself, be it just the ground and feed costs. The greater her longevity in our program, the more opportunities we will have to keep daughters out of her. Like the sheep, the key cows we have, we have five or six daughters in the fields as well.”

The Dreyers have also purchased females from the Ozarks region to add to their expanding herd.

Show-quality cattle may be a part of the Dreyer operation, but it’s not the only focus. 

“They have to be real-world cows for us to keep them around. They have to be production animals first and do it without a lot of supplementation,” Brian said. “There are times we have to cut a high-quality cow because they can’t maintain themselves as well as they need to, but if we keep those animals around and build a program around them, we aren’t going to do ourselves any good. We have structured our herd with real-world livestock, and we are making a living doing it.

“A heifer still has to be able to breed, be it a show heifer or a heifer in the keeper pen. They have to calve at around a 2-year-old, and if you take the reality out of them, you are getting further away from the real world.”

 From their Republic farm, the Dreyers source much of their own forages, including baling and wrapping Triticale and Sudan, and putting up as much dry hay as possible.

The farm is divided into a rotational grazing system, which allows livestock extended grazing and stockpiled forages.  

Management is the key for Dreyer Show Stock.

“I think the better you can manage livestock, the better they will perform,” Brian said. “We, as a family, believe the females have to be out there and do it, and we select quality sires with solid progeny. There is no slouch around here; if they are a slouch, they hit the road.”

They may be in a different part of the country, but the Dreyers follow the same philosophy they have for many years.

“We are working to meet the needs of our customers,” Brian said. “We are no different than any other seedstock producer in that we want return customers. We want to develop a relationship with young people and their families, a long-term relationship that we hope will last their whole show career and beyond. Our show stock emphasis is more about providing opportunities for youth.”


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