September 09, 2016

(Sam Capoun) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Sam Capoun, and today we’re in Scranton, Kansas, at the Frank Hug and Sons Ranch. We’re going to hear a little bit about their Hereford cattle and what they have to offer so stay tuned.

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(Sam) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host, Sam Capoun, and today we’re in Scranton, Kansas, at the Frank and Sons Ranch with Bob and Ed. Guys, tell me a little bit about the Hug Ranch. (Bob Hug) Well, we’re fifth generation. Our great-great-grandfather came here in 1868 from Germany. Family has been in the Hereford cattle business since 1896 and for almost a hundred years that’s all we had was registered Hereford cattle. (Sam) Tell me a little bit about what you guys do now then, on your ranch. Do you guys still have the Herefords then? (Bob) Still have Hereford cattle. 22 years ago Ed and I became managers and co-owners and we made the decision at that time to add a commercial herd and using strictly Hereford and Angus genetics. (Sam) What do you do, Ed? How do you help the operation? (Ed Hug) It’s a joint effort. Whatever needs to be done, we do. We seem to be able to read each other’s minds and know what needs to be done whether it’s feeding cattle, or veterinarian work, or planning breedings. We both equally share in the responsibilities. (Sam) How does that work with both of you there together then? I know some people have complications when they have two people in the family working on the operation. Do you guys work together pretty well then? (Ed) Yes, we do. There’s always the occasional disagreement but we usually get that ironed up pretty quick. As far as when we are selecting cattle to buy bulls, if we’re going to a sale or a private treaty, we’ll each look over the offerings and make our own top five list. Then, usually when we get together we’re pretty close on each having the same top four or five. We have the same idea of what direction we want to go and pretty well able to hone in on that. (Sam) What do you guys see as far as the future for your guys’ ranch? (Ed) That’s a tough question. (Bob) Good question. (Ed) We haven’t pushed the kids into following in. It’s going to be up to them. Our kids, they’re going to have to go out and find out for sure what they want to do and if they want to come back to the farm, why, that opportunity will be here but if they don’t, why, that’s the way it is. They’ve got their own lives to live and their own choices to make on that. (Bob) It’s not an eight to five job. It’s not a 40 hour a week job, no. If you’re going to do it, you better have a passion for it. You better love it or otherwise it becomes a labor and I wouldn’t want that on anybody. (Sam) What made you guys decide that you actually wanted to come back to the ranch? (Ed) I’ve always–I guess as a kid was always tagging along with Dad or Grandpa and working on the farm and our parents and grandparents instilled in us the pride of getting work done and accomplishing things. I just always enjoyed being out on the farm. (Sam) What about you, Bob? (Bob) I guess it’s the same thing. I just enjoy the outdoors, I enjoy cattle. I guess our parents instilled in us a work ethic and fooled us into realizing that hard work is actually a fun and enjoyable thing. (Sam) Perfect. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back with That’s My Farm and we’ll hear more about their cattle.

(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. You guys told us a little bit about the generational of your guys’ farm here. Tell us about what kind of cattle you guys have? (Bob) Well we got registered Hereford cattle. They first came in 1896, as I said before, and for almost 100 years that’s all we had was Hereford cattle. And then in 1994 we decided that some of our cows were pretty good producing registered cows. We kept them registered but some of them needed to become commercial cows so we decided economic reasons to go with Angus and Hereford in our commercial cow herd so we started bringing in Angus genetics. (Sam) How many cows do you guys usually have? (Ed) We usually run around 160 to 165 cows. The drought in 2012 and 2013 we had to cull quite a few. 60 head in two years just to make it through, first year with not a lot of grass and the second year we were running out of water. We had to cull pretty hard. (Sam) What difference did you guys see after that? (Bob) It sure improved our herd. [Laughter] (Ed) The first cut wasn’t too tough. They were older cows or cows that weren’t top producers. But then when we started getting past the first 20, the next 40, they were pretty tough. They were still some cows that were good producers but they were starting to get some age so we just went from oldest to youngest- started culling. Those were some pretty tough cuts that second round. (Sam) How did you guys decide to go a mix of Angus and Hereford? (Bob) It’s pretty much an economic thing. Angus complimented the Hereford breed very well. You know the Black Baldy? It’s a great cross. People want Black Baldy females in their herd; very popular female. Brings the best of both breeds together into one package. And then the feeder steers-the black hide is popular. Angus has done a great job in their marketing program. The steers have a black hide but that white face representing that Hereford breed is in that animal too. (Sam) In terms of breeding, what’s your guys’ scheme there? (Ed) We try and, calving ease, and longevity, and fertility are at the top of the list is what we look for. Then, we start moving into the performance areas and carcass quality but you got to get the calf on the ground and that cow’s got to be a good productive cow and problem free. (Sam) How do you guys breed? Are you ET? Just bulls? AI? A little bit of both? (Bob) Mostly natural service. (Ed) Yes, with the commercial cows especially, is all natural service. We use a lot of the bulls that we raise on our commercial cows. That’s how we got back into raising bulls was to raise bulls for ourselves. We were having a little trouble finding quite what we were looking for so we decided we’d start get back into raising bulls. (Bob) On the registered end why we use AI and then we clean up with our bulls. Two years ago we flushed some cows. We picked out four of our top producers and flushed them. We’ll have our second crop of ET calves this Fall. (Sam) That’s a new and up and coming thing I think in the Ag industry is the ET. I think it’s helping people a lot just getting their good ones up to the top. (Ed) Yes. (Sam) Stay tuned, we’ll be right back with That’s My Farm.

(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re once again here in Scranton, Kansas, with the Frank Hug and Sons Ranch. Guys, I understand that you do a lot of Hereford cattle. Why do you choose the Hereford breed? (Bob) Well, for one reason-tradition. 100 years ago, our great-great-grandfather decided that Hereford cattle was the way to go and we’ve stayed with it over the years. Their maternal breed is their biggest strength and they’re very fertile. You got to get cattle bred in order to stay productive, to stay in the business. That’s one of the main reasons we went with Hereford just because it’s tradition. (Sam) What kind of changes have you seen over the years with the breed, fluctuations wise? (Ed) In the ’70s and ’80s was the frame race where they tried to jack up the frame on the cattle. They did that in several breeds but the Herefords definitely took that to the extreme. That was one thing our dad and grandfather always shied away from. They said, “If you stay in the middle of the road and moderate cattle they’re the ones that are going to work and they’re the ones that are going to last.” They knew early on that the frame race was not going to last because it wasn’t going to be profitable. (Sam) What type of cattle do you guys like now then? (Ed) We shoot for our cows to be a frame five to a maybe a frame six and the bulls are usually about a five and a half to a six frame. Mature cows are going to weigh around between 1200 and 1400 pounds. (Sam) How does that help your guys’ marketing scheme to buyers? (Ed) Those cattle, the more moderate framed, enough frame that they’re going to put on weight in the feed lot but not so big a frame that they’re never going to get finished out. That attracts the feeder buyers. And as far as the replacement females that we sell, that’s what most people are looking for to put back in their herd; little more moderate sized animal. (Sam) Now the Hereford breed is up and coming in terms of selling a lot more meat. You talk about the CAB. How is the Hereford breed doing now? Do you guys see more buyers in terms of looking for the Herefords? (Bob) People are coming back to Hereford cattle. They’ve used Angus for so long, they’ve started to lose some punch on heterosis, so they’re looking at breeds that can complement Angus and the Black Baldy is pretty hard to get around, so the only way to get that is to come back to Hereford bulls. We’re seeing a huge demand in the last several years for Hereford bulls. (Sam) Are you guys selling your own here? (Ed) Yes. We market the, we keep some bulls back that we’ll use ourselves and then we’ll usually sell around 10 to 12 bulls here. (Sam) Perfect. Well, stay tuned, we’ll be right back with That’s My Farm.

(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We heard a little bit earlier about you guys’ ranch. Now tell me about how you guys make it work with being teachers and also working back on the farm as well. (Ed) Well, we don’t do our row crop so that takes a little bit of the time element out of it. But we do Fall and Spring calving, and the cows are, we worked hard on the calving ease, so the cows have to take care of themselves. The heifers get checked maybe once or twice a day. The commercial cows, they might only get checked once every other day during calving season. We’ve worked to make sure we have as problem-free cattle as possible to help out with the time of us also working away from home. (Sam) How long have you guys been doing this? Teaching and working on the farm? (Bob) I’ve been teaching, this will be my 33rd year. (Ed) This will be my 25th year of teaching. (Bob) And both of our wives teach as well. We don’t have any outside help; it’s just us so we don’t have a lot of room for error. (Sam) What made you guys decide to do both? (Ed) Our dad told us a long time ago, when we were still in school, that once we got out of high school, we needed to have some kind of a second income to fall back on during the tough times. He was a pretty strong proponent of getting some kind of an education, or a trade, or a skill. (Sam) You guys obviously have your cowherd and now you’re making another form of income by selling steers that you guys have raised here to some family and friends, maybe some faculty at the school you guys work at. How does that work? (Bob) Well, we market our steers to Santa Fe Trail Meats; they’re our processor. And the people that buy from us, family and friends, we don’t advertise, it’s all word of mouth. They pay for the processing and they pay us per pound on hanging weight. And they’ll buy either quarters or they’ll buy halves and our customer base is grown up to over 30 people, 30 customers. It’s been a good way to market our cattle and to get people out there eating beef that they enjoy, they don’t want to buy store brought beef, they want to know where it came from. (Sam) Definitely, I think that there’s a lot of reports in the media these days that people don’t know where their food’s coming from and having you guys here and local and a great source for beef, it’s an excellent job. Well, stay tuned, we’ll be right back with That’s My Farm.

(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re now going to wrap up this segment about the Frank Hug and Sons Ranch here. You guys talked about your cattle, you talked about a little bit about your marketing plan, but tell me a little bit more about that, about what you do with your cattle after they hit the ground. (Bob) Well, as far as our registered cattle, our plan is we sell our bulls private treaty and we market 10 to 12 bulls a year that way. We don’t have a big registered herd but we think what we have — what we can offer people is quality. (Ed) Most of our registered cows are fall calvers so when we sell those bulls in the Spring they’re going to be about 18 months to 20 months old and ready to go out and can breed quite a few cows. (Sam) In terms of your calf crop and heifers and steers, what do you do with them afterwards? (Ed) The steers, we wean most of our commercial cows are in the Fall calving cows as well and we’ll wean them about the end of June and then we’ll run them on grass after we wean them until the middle of August and we market them through local sale barns. The heifers that we’re going to retain for our own herd, we’ll develop them throughout the Fall on a pretty low protein ration and out on native grass. We also, since most of our cows are Fall calvers, we tend to, if we get the chance, buy back heifers from bull buyers. Their heifer calves out of our bulls and we’ll develop those heifers and breed them and then sell them either as bred heifers or calve them out and sell them as pairs. (Sam) We talked a little bit earlier about how it’s important that people know where their food’s coming from and where their beef’s coming from. Why is it important that you work with your other buyers and along with yourselves to maintain your cow herd? (Bob) I think there’s some incentive if you sell a bull to somebody, he knows that you believe in that animal if you’re willing to buy back some of those calves. It’s worked out for us, it works out for them and I guess it’s just a good marketing plan. (Ed) And it’s also just a matter of reputation and trust that you build up over time with your customers and we have a lot of repeat bull-buying customers and also with the, when we market our steers at the sale barn, most years, it’s usually the same two or three buyers that are bidding on and buying those steers year after year. (Sam) And the Hereford breed in general it’s a lot of trust and that’s why they do things like the Hereford Tours. You guys are actually going to be a part of that Hereford Tour this year, right? (Bob) That’s correct. (Sam) Tell us a little bit about that. (Bob) Well, there’s going to be about 150 to 200 people here, and most likely from seven to eight states. It’s a great opportunity to have that many people on your property since we don’t have a production sale, it’s private treaty. We don’t get that opportunity to have people show up in those numbers just every day. (Ed) Well, it’s just a chance to show them the kind of cattle we raise and how the Herefords can function in these kind of conditions and the way that we operate. Like we’ve said before, they have to take care of themselves. They have to be pretty problem-free. (Sam) Well, Bob and Ed, thanks for joining us today. It’s been an awesome opportunity to hear about you guys’ farm that you have here and what you guys are doing. You come a long way, especially the Hereford breed and we wish you luck in the future and thanks for joining us. (Bob) Thank you. (Ed) Thank you. (Sam) Thanks for joining us on That’s My Farm and make sure you check us out every Friday on Agam in Kansas, thanks for joining us.

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