Sieck Show Cattle
Photos courtesy of sieck show cattle
Breeding show cattle is not the same as breeding commercial cattle. Show cattle require stoutness, extra hair and that show ring appeal. The Sieck family, out of Martell, Neb., have perfected this recipe for success.
In the past year, the Sieck family has produced the Grand Champion at the National Western Stock Show, as well as the 2012 Hereford Junior Nationals Grand Champion Steer. They also had the Reserve Grand Champion at the 2011 NWSS.
“My fondest memories are not of me showing cattle, but when I receive pictures of calves we sold, that have won shows. I love seeing the success people have, and remember each calf as it looked when it was a baby. It is a great feeling seeing how the calf matures and grows into a beautiful show animal,” said Brent Sieck.
He raises the cattle with his wife, Sharlyn. Their two younger children, Brandon and Renae, still show cattle. Their oldest daughter is Chandra. “My wife and I each have deep roots in agriculture going back many generations raising cattle,” he said.
Originally in the purebred Simmental business, Sieck decided to switch to raising club calves in the early 1990s. “I grew up raising cattle with my family. I started showing cattle in high school, and continued into college with a small herd I had developed of purebred Simmentals. I began gaining an interest in show cattle and bred my first show calves in the early 1990s. I am no longer in the purebred business, though, as our herd is strictly crossbred cattle, used for show production,” he said.
He enjoys raising the cattle, and has since the day he started. “I guess you could say, it’s in my blood. No matter what the weather or the circumstance, I enjoy every day working with cattle,” he said.
To breed animals that can win in the ring, the Siecks start with high quality cows. “What is important to me in breeding, is using the bulls our customers look for to produce calves with that show ring look. I enjoy the challenge of trying to raise the great one,” he said.
Sieck uses artificial insemination and embryo transfer to produce the best calf crop he can each year. “I started AI nearly 30 years ago, and started an extensive embryo program five years ago. I attended embryo school, and I now transfer the embryos into our cows. Many of our top calves each year are results from our embryo transfer program,” Sieck said.
The cattle that they raise are crossbred cattle that result from Angus, Maine Anjou and Simmental lines. The Siecks have 350 head that they raise, and the best 10 cows are selected for the embryo transfer program. These cows are bred and then flushed, and those embryos are put into recipient cows. Currently, they are transferring about 200 embryos per year.
“We do run clean-up bulls, but they don’t have to work very hard. We do more embryo transfer more than anything anymore. I enjoy the reproductive end of it,” Sieck stated.
The calves are bred to calve between March and April, and will stay on the cows until the fall, just like a traditional commercial operation. The family uses rotational grazing on 125 irrigated acres.
“We started doing rotational grazing on our native pastures 20 years ago. In 2005, we planted the farm where we live to grass, and the pairs graze in that pasture,” he said.
He continued, “We usually use six paddocks that are 20 acres each. This year we divided those down to 10 acre paddocks, and the pairs grazed in that pasture for three days before we move them.”
This system allows the family to keep the cows on grass as long as possible. They raise hay to feed to the cattle the rest of the year, and the drought this year has forced the family to buy hay outside of what they raise.
“Our hay crop was only just about half what it has been. We had to get a little more aggressive in terms of contacting people to come up with more hay. We planted some rye last fall, so we had some rye bales this spring that we don’t normally have,” he said.
He continued, “The pastures are making it, but they are not going to be what I wish they were. They will be shorter than I wish they were. Even though we won’t have much of a corn crop, we are going to have corn stalks to go to within a few weeks, because the farmers are harvesting early. We can pull them off of grass and to the stalks.”
In order to prepare the cows to come off grass and go to the corn stalks, the family weaned some of their calves earlier than normal this year. “We wean the traditional way. One thing that we do, however, is wean when we are on the irrigated grass. The calves are separated into a separate pasture, and they have creep feed, water and grass, and they go through almost no stress. They don’t miss momma very much,” he said.
He added, “They already know how to eat before they are weaned. Most of the time they take off and do fine. It’s an advantage to be able to wean on the grass because they are on a clean area, and not a dirty, dusty lot. I don’t want to wean in there because we will have calves coughing.”
Once the calves are weaned, then it’s time for them to be sold. The Siecks hold two sales a year, one that is online and one that is a private treaty telephone auction. In the pasture sale, 50-80 calves are sold, and potential buyers go to see the cattle, and make an offer. The family offers both steers and heifers for sale.
“We got into doing this private treaty telephone auction when we first started, and it’s worked really well for us. We have had a fair amount of success with calves we have sold over the years, so now we have buyers from 20 states. We have been doing it long enough, and have had the success that people come back,” he said.
They also hold an additional sale in November that is on the internet, and this will be their second year of doing so. The family will sell an additional 25 calves this way, with both steers and heifer calves offered.
“We want to sell the best cattle that we can,” he said.
The rest of the calves are sold as replacement females, with a handful to private treaty, and the balance are sold to a feedlot that buys the rest of them.
The reason that people come back is not just because of the success they have had with the cattle, but because of the friendships they have formed. “I want people to be able to see them, and get high quality cattle. I really like meeting the kids and the families. We have made a lot of friends all over the country with people that we only see once a year at our sale. We really enjoy the relationships that we have been able to form,” Sieck said. ❖