Basler Ranch believes in using good genetics to maintain their herd for the next generation
March 1, 2019
Leo Basler bought land and began ranching in the sandhills of northeastern Colorado between Akron and Brush, and then his sons Edward, Pat, Alan, continued to secure land to provide for generations behind them, leaving the door open to the family's ranching story.
The Basler family's ranch is now operating with three generations contributing to its success. All in all, the family runs just under 1,000 head of mother cows, each generation imparting the business of raising cattle while doing the day to day tasks to do just that.
Chris (Basler) Hermes, Ed's daughter, and her sister, Kate (Basler) Blake, have long been involved in the family ranch and she said returning to the operation was always her plan. After graduating from Colorado State University in 2012, she returned home and is her dad's right-hand man. Blake is also in the area and the cattle business, working in the Superior office, joining the family on the weekends and maintaining her own herd as well. Both women are expecting children in 2019 — Kate's son, Kooper, arrived in February — and hoping the ranching legacy will continue.
The operation is primarily commercial though Hermes developed a love of show cattle that has incarnated as an appreciation for high performing cattle with a lot of look. She said she has two Simmental cows from Altenburg's Wild West Sale that she describes as fancy. Bred to a Winchester 3030 Simmental cross bull, the two produced bull calves Hermes plans to retain. As much as Hermes loves her fancy cows, she said she realizes the challenges of keeping the wheels on a commercial cattle operation, making bull selection key.
Hermes selected and purchased a Winchester 3030 Simmental cross bull that was collected, yielding about 1,000 straws of semen for their own use. Her fancy heifers were bred to this sire and both had bull calves they plan to retain. About 25 percent of their calves this year are Winchester babies.
"It's exciting to be able to keep them," she said. "It's hard for us to get rid of good cattle. We love being able to go back and look at them and know who they are and where they come from — seeing your genetics improve."
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When it comes to selecting bulls for their operation, disposition is at the top of the list. While she said it's difficult to buy more expensive females and try to make them fit a commercial operation, a good bull can pencil. They began using black Simmental bulls about seven years ago and immediately appreciated them for their longevity and docility.
"They're structurally correct, they're always going to pack on a lot of pounds for us, and they'll be marketable calves," she said. "You don't have any dinks out of them and they're always really even."
Their sustainability and longevity in the herd is also key, preventing them from the time and expense of replacing sires annually. Docility is a consideration for Hermes and she said that is evident in the bulls and their calves. With average frame size cows, they tend to select bulls with birthweight EPDs in the 90-pound range. Their emphasis on paper is on weaning weight, marbling, and carcass data.
All of the ranch's calves are marketed through Superior and, for the most part, are purchased locally. They sell about six loads right off the cow the first of October and then wean the remainder to background at their grow lot to about 825 pounds to sell in December. They also market heifers on Superior in January.
Marketing calves on video requires even sets, making AI all the more important. Hermes' husband, Derek, owns Hermes Genetics and also works for ReproScan Ultrasounds. He spends his spring breeding cows and brings value to the operation through his expertise. The couple purchased some bred females last year and the experience drove home the need for synchronized breeding.
"They calved from the middle of February to the middle of June," she said. "They calved forever and it was just 60 of them. With Derek's breeding program, we synchronize them and have them bred in a 45 to 50-day window."
With haying and farming in addition to the need for same-aged calves to market, she said the tight calving window is a necessity. They raise all of the hay, save for some alfalfa, for their cattle as well as corn. The grow lot allows them to background calves and provide a little extra feed and care for first calf heifers and their calves. Life on the Basler operation is likely to be busier this summer with the expected arrival of twin boys for Derek and Chris, adding a generation to a ranch with history. The gift of being able to do so, she said, is one she is particularly grateful for as she knows those first chapters were marked with hard work and sacrifice. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.