By Sarah Hill
Photos courtesy Bullerman Angus
The Bullerman family has focused on breeding Angus cattle that are muscular and fast growing with excellent EPDs.
What was the world like 40 years ago? Cell phones, selfies, and the Internet didn’t exist in their current forms. The space shuttle had just taken its first mission. Drivers had to use a physical map for directions when traveling - GPS and MapQuest weren’t a thing in 1983. That year is when Bullerman Angus, Adrian, Minn., got its start, and it has been building an outstanding Angus herd ever since.
The herd started with Tom and Trish Bullerman buying two registered Angus heifers from a neighbor for their sons, Tyler and Trent, for a 4-H project. The maternal characteristics were the initial attraction to the Angus breed for the Bullermans. Those first heifers had a nice disposition, so the couple opted to stick with the breed. They have never really considered changing breeds. “Why change it if it’s working?” Trish Bullerman asked.
Over the next 10 to 15 years, the Bullerman family focused on growing their registered Angus herd, purchasing cows and heifers from Stassen Angus in Marshall, Minn. “We also purchased a few donor cows from Schaff Angus Valley and Siebring Angus in Illinois,” Trish said.
For a long time, the operation was limited to about 75 pairs because of pasture availability in the area. “We picked up about 300 additional acres of pasture which really allowed us to grow,” she added.
Today, the operation includes 225 crop acres and 420 acres of pasture, which is home to 150 registered Angus cow/calf pairs and 50 bred heifers. “In the area where we live, we were limited to grazing on creek bottoms and hills that are too steep for row crop farming, but it’s worked out well for us,” she said.
Tyler and his wife, Hilary, live only a mile away and he helps with the day-to-day farm work. His daughter, Brynn, has had a successful show career that wraps up this year. The highlight of her show career was getting fourth overall owned heifer at the 2018 National Junior Angus Show. Brynn has purchased show heifers from Prairie View Farm in Illinois and other local seedstock producers. She has had success raising and selling offspring out of her show cows.
Trent and his wife, Christine, also live locally and co-own the local lumberyard, but still pitch in on the farm when needed. Their daughters, Kendall, 9, and Andi, 3, are just getting started showing.
Tom is in charge of all cattle feeding, which is a big job once all the animals are home from pastures. Trish handles the bookkeeping and records, while Tyler has largely been responsible for the reproductive decisions and show heifer development.
The herd is enrolled in Maternal Plus through the American Angus Association. The Bullermans also submit all data through AHIR and all replacements and sale bulls are genomic tested with AnGS.
Breeding for Growth
The Bullermans have focused on breeding for growth, yielding large, strapping calves, followed by foot and leg structure, disposition, muscle shape, and phenotype. “Tom and I both come from dairy backgrounds and had done some showing, so we wanted cattle that were good looking, but still had to be able to perform and do what they’re supposed to,” Trish said. “For our bull customers, foot and leg structure is important. If the bull can’t get out there and move, he isn’t going to get the job done.”
In the early years, the Bullermans emphasized growth, but in the last 10 to 15 years, have changed their approach to not chase extremes. Breeding decisions are a team effort. Once they have established the sires to be used for the year, each family member chooses matings for each cow. Then, they have a group discussion about each cow and settle on a sire.
“We really try not to make chute side matings,” Trish said. Historically, the Bullerman herd has been exclusively artificially inseminated or embryo transfer, based on all natural heats. During breeding season, Tom and Trish watch the cattle from their house and go on evening walks, looking for signs of heat.
“We’ve used a lot of 4M Ace 709 from ABS and had extremely good luck with his offspring, both bulls and heifers,” she said. “We’ve also used Sterling Pacific and Bullerman Unlimited. Those bulls all tend to follow the same pattern of balanced EPDs, consistently providing muscle and power and good carcass traits.”
Feeding What’s Available
The Bullermans work with a nutritionist to develop their rations during the months when the herd isn’t grazing. They incorporate the ingredients they have available, including corn silage, grass hay, alfalfa hay, wet distiller’s grain, cornstalks, and bean stubble. Everything is mixed in a feed wagon before being fed. Developing bulls are fed a similar diet, with adjustments made as needed.
“There are no fences left anywhere up here, other than the few people with cattle,” Trish said. “It’s very hard to graze crop residue extensively in the fields. When the cows are brought home from grass, they have 160 acres to run on and we bring feed out every day. They do graze native pastures from late May to November.”
In mid-December, the momma cows are brought up to a yard near the Bullerman home in preparation for calving in January. Tom is the family calving specialist, and Trish says they’ve come to trust his instincts to know when a cow needs help.
Show and Sale Ring Success
The operation hosts an annual bull sale in February in conjunction with their friends from K&J Angus, Lester, Iowa, and an online heifer sale each November. A few bulls are always retained to help customers out in a pinch and to sell at the Black Hills Stock Show.
The Bullermans have also had success in the showring, most notably, having the champion Angus female at the South Dakota State Fair and receiving reserve champion early pen of 3 bull calves at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in 2020.
The Next Stage
Forty years after starting their Angus herd, the Bullermans are ready to transition ownership of their herd to Tyler and Hilary. Tyler has flushed 12 to 15 of their best cows, and transferred embryos into a large group of recipient cows that are currently in Montana.
“It’s time for us to step back and let Tyler take on the ownership,” Trish said. “We’ll be here helping, but Tyler’s been the driving force for quite a while, helping make management decisions. He’ll have a nice place to start, working with the top end of our herd, so he won’t miss a beat. Tom and I have always enjoyed working with cattle and can’t imagine a life where we won’t continue to have something to do with the cattle.”
Bullerman Retirement Angus Dispersion
November 27, 2023 - Rushmore, Minn.
learn more at www.bullermanangus.com