(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host, here in Burton, Kansas near Hutchinson with John and Melody McCurry, along with their daughters. (Aubrey) Buckle your gate. (John) Alright! (Mikhayla) Stay with us to hear about the history, the future and the current practices of this ranch along with John’s involvement in the industry. Stay with us and we’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
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(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I am here with John McCurry at the McCurry Angus Ranch near Hutchinson, Kansas. To start off John, tell me a little bit about the history and the background of the ranch. (John) McCurry, the family, we’ve got a long-standing history. My Grandpa was actually one of the original five McCurry brothers that started raising Angus cattle in 1928. He himself was a second generation Angus breeder. So, that makes myself a fourth generation and my daughters the fifth generation of McCurry’s to raise Angus cattle. This particular family operation started the marriage of my two parents in 1977. Both of them were both third generation Angus breeders. My Mom grew up in Tennessee. Her Dad served on the National Board of Directors from ’72 to ’78 and with the marriage of them, they started here with the house and ten acres and kept growing and adding to it over the years. (Mikhayla) So, today what kind of operation do you run here? (John) We’re primarily a seed stock, purebred Angus operation. We’ve got a gentleman that works for us. We have a few Herefords that would be a small percentage of the population and then we run a couple hundred commercial cows, use them as both recipient cows and just to keep a commercial cow herd base as well to offset cash flow income. (Mikhayla) So when did you and your wife take over? (John) I moved home 12 years ago, graduated Kansas State University in 2004. Didn’t really know that this was my passion, but didn’t know if it was an opportunity. Come home that Fall, worked there at the beef barn that summer after I graduated, come home that Fall and just kept plugging away. We sold anywhere from 35 to 50 commercial bulls at that point in time and move a little over 225 a year now. (Mikhayla) If I’m correct, the ranch used to be called Marands. Tell me a little bit about that history with that name. (John) When Mom and Dad were married they were looking for an identity of their own and there’s a tablet in the office and a desk that’s got all the scribblings of the ideas that they were thinking. At the time they came up with Marands, just be dropping the “Y” off of Mary and Andy. And we transitioned that a year after I got home to Home of Marands, McCurry’s Angus Ranch and then pretty well now we just go by the identity of McCurry Angus Ranch. (Mikhayla) So you mentioned that you didn’t really know this was your passion until later on in life, so what was your childhood like and when did you decide? (John) Angus has always been what I lived and breathed and it was just a matter of whether you could make it work economically. Growing up here with my sister and my parents it was a small family operation as we joked around, it was an overgrown 4-H project that kind of got to the point where you had to do something with it to pay instead of it just being a hobby. We kept expanding. When I was a Senior in college I bought 100 commercial cows, put embryos in those females so that those cows were calving when actually I got home from school. That catapulted us forward in terms of volumes and numbers, taking older cows and propagating those genetics. At the same time I knew I wanted to do this, but there were a couple of leases that came along in terms of sizable acres that also allowed us to expand to make this a full-time operation. (Mikhayla) We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I’m here with John McCurry. First off John, what are some of the logistics behind your herd operation? (John) Where we’re at today is the headquarters where my parents live. They moved here in 1977. Again, renters on 10 acres. There’s not quite 1,000 acres right here around where we’re at here today, broke up into little parcels of improved grasses where we both winter cows and put up hay. We have since leased two sizable operations, one in Strong City and one in Fall River. The Strong City location houses our Fall calves and cows there year around. Those cows will actually, it’s a unique situation, we give those cows 10 acres to the cow. We go to grass with those Fall born calves and don’t wean until they’re ten months of age to utilize both the grass and the milk performance. I think it also does a better job of developing our bulls into a heartier environment. I think it keeps them out of a feeding environment, keeps them crawling on the rocks and in large acre situations. The Fall River location is strictly a Spring calving outfit. We go seven acres to the cow there. It’s just a six month lease, just summer grazing. We bring those cows back here to crop residue or wheat pasture cover crops in the Fall. We do have some grass here, obviously not near the scale just north of us in the sand hills here around Burton. We’re in the six and seven acre stocking rate on those cows again, just a six month grazing period. (Mikhayla) Great. What are some of the technologies you’ve incorporated here? (John) We’ve tried to grasp as many technologies, just trying to stay on the forefront. Obviously extensive AI embryo work. But more recently the last four years have done 50K data through Zoetis, through the American Angus Association. So at this point in time throughout the last year, we have DNA’d every cow that we have in our possession. So the bulls that sold in this year’s bull sale were two generations of Zoetis 50K. (Mikhayla) So, to go off of the bull sale, tell me a little bit about that. (John) Our bull sale is the second Thursday in March. This was our fifth one. We’ve been selling bulls for private treaty for 35 years previously, but moved to a live auction just for more or less efficiency, for multiple different reasons. It was good. We fed 400 people, had an unbelievable crowd, almost doubled our buyers in terms of volume of buyers this last year. The female market was strong. It was a very good sale. (Mikhayla) What environment do you sell your bulls in at your bull sale? (John) Not knowing whether the bull sale when we launched it was going to be a success or not, we just used a machine shed and went with the video auction. We sell our bulls by sire group and in those sire groups are both Spring and Fall born bulls, so it was going to be an undertaking to say the least to get bulls in and out of the ring, keeping them separate and then getting them penned back. So we chose the video auction. So, we actually sell the bulls off of TV, use Superior Livestock, Superior Productions as our internet bidding base. You can either call in or click to bid. It’s been very well received. It takes minimal labor. Bull guys can go look at bulls throughout the sale and know where they’re going to be penned up instead of trying to find them out back. (Mikhayla) Perfect. Great. Thank you. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I’m here with John McCurry, the McCurry Angus Ranch. So tell me some practices that you do here on the ranch to remain sustainable. (John) We try to grow forage year around. That was a practice that was instilled by my Father, through my Grandfather. We plant in the Fall in dormant crops such as crabgrass or Bermuda. We plant no till rye. Then in places where we might winter cows to this point, we’ll plant oats so that those cows, we try to keep cattle grazing as many days as possible. You can see behind us here we have our two-year-old pairs kicked out on Triticale, a cover crop. They’ll stay here until we go to summer grass. Not only does it cut down on our feed and time, the need for hay, to put up hay in the summer and feed in the winter, but it’s just better nutritionally for those cattle as well. (Mikhayla) What are some other parts of the ranch that kind of bring it all together? (John) We’ve taken on, we do haying. It started out as our own. We do some custom work, start growing more for neighbors. Do a lot of hay on shares. That allows us to access more acres, so we don’t have to use our acres for hay production necessarily. We can go use our machinery and put up hay on share with neighbors or other ranchers. Other tools we use on a daily basis would be we do have a little string of horses; we’re raising a few colts now. Use those, it just makes everything easier. It seems like cattle respect horses extremely well. It’s just part of the tradition too. Cattle and horses go hand-in-hand. (Mikhayla) Are there any other practices here on the ranch that you do to keep up with the trends and the times? (John) We try anyway. Yes, there’s one unique…maybe it’s a little out of the scope would be we’ve been using chicken litter as our fertilizer. We have to haul it in about an hour and a half. But it keeps us from having to buy commercial fertilizer. It offers a lot in terms of nutrient and trace minerals. So that’s something that’s probably as unique to us as anybody in this particular area anyway is putting chicken litter. We try to do it on an annual basis. We’re not necessarily sitting in cow/calf country where we are as well, so we’ve taken marginal or below average ground, put it back to soils that it complements, or grasses that complement the soils, the tougher soils, whether it be sand or alkali and try to graze that ground instead of farm below average or marginal ground that doesn’t pay. This is Jose Tall Wheatgrass. This clump right here. Where this particular farm sits is terrible soil, a lot of oil field damage previous from the ’80s or ’70s even. This is high alkali ground. It’s virtually white if it wasn’t growing grass. And Jose Tall Wheatgrass thrives on alkali grass. This used to be a brome field, but the drought pretty well wiped it out from 2011 through last summer when we got a little reprieve. You can tell by the pond here behind us. It’s normally bank full, but there’s not much stockpiled water. The Bermuda and crabgrass used to be two grasses, a lot of people thought. They’re great forage. Why fight them? Just join them. So, we’ve started managing those two grasses through no till of both rye and oats. So I guess predominantly this farm is turning over to more Bermuda and crabgrass. We try to spray. When we fertilize it in the summer we’ll put in a dash of Grazon in there to control broadleafs and thistles and any tree saplings that might be coming on as well. (Mikhayla) Awesome. Great. Thank you. We will be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I’m here with John McCurry at the McCurry Angus Ranch. John, how have you seen the ranch evolve over the years since you were a kid? (John) Like I said in one of the earlier segments it was more of an overgrown 4-H project. My sister and I, my parents bought each of us a cow when we were infants. They just naturally progressed and got more of them. In 1994, I believe it was, we sold every animal that was AI sired to an operation. So, it was like starting over again. There were only 70 cows here through that rebuild and purebred when I got home in 2004, and there’s over 700 here now. Haven’t bought any females to speak of to add to that. Just through natural selection and reproduction, ET work that we’ve been able to add to the numbers. (Mikhayla) I understand that you’ve won some awards. Tell me a little bit about that. (John) This last year has been pretty unique. The family was selected as Seed Stock Producer of the Year through the Beef Improvement Federation. The symposium will actually be in Manhattan, Kansas, this June. My Mom and Dad were also the Kansas Angus Association Honorary Members of 2016. So, it’s been pretty neat and pretty humbling to have those two awards the last year. (Mikhayla) Over the years since it’s evolved, what are some trends and fads you’ve seen? (John) Through all livestock businesses and industries there’s always fads and trends. A lot of them aren’t good. It’s something to market cattle on. It’s something to hang your hat on for a little bit. Our philosophy for generations and this was instilled in me by both my Grandparents was stay in the middle-breed good cattle that are sound, good looking, plenty of muscle, maternal characteristics, because the pendulum swings to the center twice as often as it does from end to end. That’s always been our breeding philosophy is stay in the middle, use sound practices when we are selecting our AI sires. We try to do diligent work in terms of our AI sire selection. We try to use very highly proven bulls. This last year’s bull sale would have had Connealy Thunder, Connealy Confidence, SAV Bismarck, SAV Brilliance, SAV Resource, would have been just a few of the biggest sire groups we had to offer. (Mikhayla) What’s your involvement in the industry? (John) Throughout the industry I just try to be involved and give back. I was on the National Gene Reg Association Board of Directors. Been a member of the American Angus Association my whole life, try to be an active member through our national conference in the Fall. Serve on the Harvey County Farm Bureau, which is where most of our grass is around home here, even though we live in Reno County. I am the Reno County Chairman of the Kansas Livestock Association, try to be very active in that organization. They do a great job. Both organizations are lobbying for agricultural interests. I encourage any of the viewers who want to be active and give back to agriculture to dive into those two organizations. (Mikhayla) Talk a little bit more about the American Angus Association and how they help you. (John) The American Angus Association has just been a staple all along. We’ve got a Regional Manager, he lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, that takes care of part of Kansas. Any information we need they’ve got an unbelievable staff and helpful. Probably the biggest asset that we have is an online service where we can do all our paperwork and registrations and everything through the website online. (Mikhayla) OK, great. Thank you. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m here with John McCurry and his daughter Aubrey. First off John, what do you see the future of this ranch looking like? (John) All we can do is just keep plugging along. We’ll take expansion opportunities as they become available if the approach looks right and it’s a sound business decision. We’ve got an awful lot of cows here and labor is the restriction. Probably industry-wide, that’s the case. Just keep doing what we’re doing. The girls are obviously going to take some involvement. They are involved, but need to make sure to give them some time too here. (Aubry) Buckle your gate everyone! (John) Alright! (Mikhayla) And how are your daughters involved? (John) We bought each of the girls a cow when they were infants, just like my parents did for myself. Aubrey’s got two cows and actually both of them had bulls in the bull sale here. So, trying to put away some money for her for college down the road. She’s probably got her Grandma’s skill of animal health already. Just a little bit of mind and miracle. Good with numbers in terms of animal ID’s and pedigrees. Molly, being 18 months old, she loves it, but it’s hard to tell what avenues she’s going to take, like this one already has. (Mikhayla) Right. So, what are some restrictions and challenges that you’ve faced recently? (John) I’d say in agriculture, it’s just the amount of money you handle. Personally we’ve expanded so much. Not a long-standing family operation here obviously. My parents were both third generation producers but started on their own. It’s just capital. Doing the things that the opportunities have come available. Get to the capital and make sure it makes it sense, from a cash flow perspective. But through my life, I guess that’s been the biggest challenge is just keeping up with expansion with banking needs. Just making it work. It takes a lot of money and you just hope that it all comes back through. (Mikhayla) Back on your daughters, what kind of, in a little more detail, do they do around here and what’s their future like in 4-H with livestock? (John) Both of them, we’ve already talked, Aubrey will be eligible for 4-H next year. Playing with these bucket calves already, kind of preparing for next year. She’s been doing the Clover Buds Project with the local country 4-Her’s both showing goats and hogs and then cattle as well. We’ll let her show her own heifer this Fall at the Kansas State Fair by herself. We’ll see if the heifer and the little girl can combat with that. She’s great. She knows what chores need to be done on a daily or morning and evening basis and very active. I’d say one of her favorite tasks and she’s been doing this for two years, is artificially inseminating cows. She thinks that’s the cat’s meow. We actually bred one cow last night and she loves it, that task. (Aubrey) I bred after him. (Mikhayla) And Aubrey what do you want to do when you grow up? (Aubrey) I want to doooo….help my Daddy drive the Gator. And tag babies. (Mikhayla) Awesome. (John) That’s one of your highlights too. She loves to go tag calves. (Mikhayla) Thank you guys and thank you for watching That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and stay tuned next week for the next episode of That’s My Farm.
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