By Cheryl Kepes
Photos courtesy Meyer Cattle
Meyer Cattle Company operates successful commercial and registered Angus herds tracking cattle performance from birth to rail.
Meyer Cattle Company owners, Brock and Michele Meyer, balance two distinct yet complementary cattle operations near Bowling Green, Mo. On one hand, the Meyer family manages a commercial cow/calf operation of 400 Angus-based cows, retaining 100 percent of the calves for their feedlot. On the other hand, the Meyers run 400 head of Angus cows in their registered cow/calf program, marketing performance bulls and females. Though managing two different herds brings challenges, Brock and Michele say the benefits outweigh the complications.
Brock grew up working with his dad, Robert Meyer, on the family’s commercial cow/calf operation started by Brock’s grandfather. Currently, Brock and his dad execute the day-to-day management for both cattle operations along with three full-time employees. Brock’s wife, Michele, works full time off the farm for FMC Agricultural Solutions, but she’s heavily involved in the cattle operations as time allows. Brock and Michele’s daughter, Lexi, takes the lead in the show barn and assists on the farm when she is home from college. The youngest Meyer, Brock and Michele’s son, Jaxon, is proving to be a farmhand in the making at the ripe old age of four.
The commercial segment of Meyer Cattle Company runs as a seamless operation. The calves are weaned at 600 to 700 pounds, then transitioned to Meyer Cattle’s feedlot. All the calves from the commercial program, as well as bulls culled from the registered operation, are developed at the feedlot, and then processed at Creekstone Farms in Kansas.
On average, the Meyers feed out 500 to 550 head each year. Most of the feedlot calves are animals raised in their commercial herd, however the Meyers source some calves from their local registered bull buyers. They strive to keep the genetics tight to maintain consistency and predictability in their product.
All the momma cows in the commercial herd are purchased directly from Basin Angus in Montana or sourced from Basin Angus genetics. While some of the cows in the Meyer Cattle commercial herd are AIed, a majority are bred to Meyer Cattle raised bulls in the registered herd. “We use all our own bulls. We do AI some commercial cows, but basically all the commercial cows are bred to our bulls because we are very carcass and growth oriented,” Brock explained.
In 1996, Brock started to build the registered cattle program segment of Meyer Cattle Company. Close to 125 heifer calves produced in the registered Angus program each year are kept as replacement females for the registered herd. The registered Angus bull calves are developed and sold as yearlings or as age advantaged sires at Meyer Cattle Company’s spring and fall sales. Meyer Cattle Company sells about 50 bulls in each sale.
At the production sales, the Meyers sell all their 7-year-old pairs. At their upcoming fall sale, they plan to sell some 2-year-old and 3-year-old pairs to satisfy their customers in the market for young replacement females.
The strategy to obtain balance within the cattle operations is evident in the Meyer’s breeding program. They make mating decisions based on the goal of producing progeny with solid, well-rounded EPDs. “We strive for a very balanced EPD profile which has kept us grounded,” Brock Meyer explained. “We don’t focus on any one trait. We focus a lot on growth and carcass, but we do keep all these heifers back so maternal traits are important as well.”
In addition to emphasizing EPDs, the Meyers place importance on an animal’s phenotype. “We also put a lot of emphasis on phenotype because we like to look at cattle. We like a good-looking cow. We like that picture perfect Angus cow,” Brock said.
To ensure consistent, high-performing cattle, Meyer Cattle Company breeds its cows to bulls that have displayed, through progeny and EPD data, what they can produce. “When we are making breeding decisions, we don’t use very many of the young, popular unproven bulls,” Brock shared. “We breed a majority of our cows to the proven bulls that we know have calves on the ground and have predictability. We cannot afford to strike out.” When the Meyers occasionally utilize a young bull, the bull’s sire and dam must have predictability in their pedigree and progeny.
While some operations of their size may choose to utilize many AI sires, the Meyers operate with merely a handful of different AI bulls. This creates same sire groups, which is desirable to their bull buyers. Many of their bull customers run large cattle operations and want multiple bulls out of the same sire for their herds.
Meyer Cattle Company’s customers often seek bulls that are sired by Angus bulls that have longevity and prominence within the breed. “A lot of our customers are commercial cattlemen who want that sire recognition, so that also leads us to have a majority of our bulls out of well-known sires within the breed that also matches the balanced approach we have taken in selection,” Michele Meyer stated.
The selective nature of the Meyers’ program boosts performance in their herds as well as gives their buyers confidence in the bulls purchased from Meyer Cattle Company. “We are using our registered bulls on our commercial cows, and we can tie those bulls all the way through to finishing. We can see how those bulls’ progeny have done on the rail and how they have grown. So, it does help the predictability of our bulls when they are proven like that,” Brock explained.
The Meyers track the progeny in their operation from start to finish. This attention to data provides Meyer Cattle Company with relevant information on their cattle’s performance. “The proof is in the pudding in terms of how our registered bulls mature, how they bred cows, and how their calves are able to perform. Whether that is at weaning or that’s as we load them on the trucks, we are able to get that carcass data back and watch and track it,” Michele said.
The Meyers utilize the data when making future breeding decisions. In addition, Brock and Michele seek feedback from their customers to help them determine matings and herd sire selections.
Meyer Cattle Company markets yearling bulls and age advantaged bulls. The family develops a large portion of the bulls to 18 months of age and older, giving their customers mature bulls ready to service a larger number of females. “That is something that sets us apart. There’s not a lot of people that can age those bulls like we can,” Michele shared. “It separates us as something we have to offer, our customers love the older bulls.”
The operation’s access to adequate land and resources required to develop older bulls makes it easier for the Meyers to raise bulls past the yearling mark. The bulls are run on grass from yearling to 18-months-old and supplemented with additional feedstuffs.
Growing Their Own
The Meyers produce most of the feedstuffs they feed their cattle. They chop corn silage and wheatlage. The family grows, cuts, and bales 4,000 round bales of hay, straw, and corn each year. The Meyers also utilize 2,500 acres for grazing and hay for all their herds.
In 2014, the farm expanded its operations to include row cropping 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. They harvest and store the corn to feed the feedlot cattle. The rest is sold as commodities. The row crop aspect of the business coupled with the commercial and registered herds further diversifies their operation.
Managing such a wide-ranging operation keeps this Missouri family constantly at the top of their game. Balancing a large commercial herd with a topnotch registered Angus herd takes all their energy, all the time. But the Meyers say they wouldn’t change a thing – because the two cattle operations give them the best of both worlds.
Performance in the Pasture Sale:
November 3, 2023
6:30 pm - Bowling Green, Mo.
learn more at www.meyercattle.com