Missouri couple wins Limousin Commercial Producer of the Year

Feb 19, 2010
by WLJ

Accurate recordkeeping, strict culling, and strong industry ties helped earn the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) Commercial Producer of the Year award for Mike and Betsy Cravens of Lee’s Summit, MO. Their M&B Limousin enterprise topped a field of four nominees that also included Roger Wick, New Rockford, ND; Wayne J. Nelson Cattle Co., Langford, SD; and Fredrickson Farms, Independence, WI.

Bob Hough, Ph.D., NALF executive vice president, presented the award Jan. 13 during the Limousin pen and carload shows at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO.

“Mike and Betsy Cravens are producers with the big picture in mind,” said Frank Padilla, former director of member and commercial relations for NALF. “They have proven that Limousin genetics are an important component of successful commercial cow/calf production.”

Nominated by the Missouri Limousin Breeders Association and the Heartland Limousin Association, the husband-and-wife team has owned and managed M&B Limousin for more than 20 years. The enterprise comprises 650 owned acres, 400 rented acres, and 280 cows, including 170 commercial females. They originally incorporated Limousin genetics for the breed’s calving ease, performance and female longevity.

They keep detailed notes about their cows’ birthing dates and times, difficulties, peculiarities, and locations from year to year. Adding carcass data has rounded out their overview of each calf from birth to harvest and each cow for her entire life on the farm.

Their two most important performance guidelines are a 12-month calving interval and a 95 percent weaning rate. They attribute good breeding, a good health program, good management and good nutrition to attaining those goals.

Managing nutrition and health costs is their primary strategy for increasing returns and controlling costs.

They use the same bulls for their spring- and fall-calving herds, and they check all of their bulls for fertility and soundness before turnout.

Their sire selection begins with a thorough visual assessment and includes genetic potential for birth weight, weaning weight and ribeye area. As their heiferreplacement program matures, they also are putting more emphasis on appropriate milking ability for their environment. They cull sires based on the results of fertility tests, unsoundness, temperament and age.

In selecting replacement females, they again start with a visual evaluation, including udder quality. Weaning weight and milking ability also are among their selection criteria. Qualitatively, they prefer docile, polled genetics that match their limited labor resources. They cull females based on failure to breed, lost calves, unsoundness and temperament.

They market the majority of their calves to Laura’s Lean Beef Co. and Strauss Brands, with the remainder going to the local auction market. They collect carcass data from those branded programs and combine them with their calving records to determine their most productive animals. — WLJ