By Mike Surbrugg

Globe Farm Editor

WELCH, Okla. — Tate Cattle Co. has 6,000 head of cattle at its Northeast Oklahoma Select Source Grow Yard at Welch.

Bret Tate, an owner and director of Tate operations at Welch, said 4,000 head are Holstein heifers and 2,000 head are beef heifers. All will be sold. Females will be sold as bred or as feeder heifers, he said. Tate Cattle is owned by three Tate cousins.

The operation also raises bulls, steers and heifers for producers who select what services they want for their cattle. It is a full menu. Type and size of animals and owners’ choices determine costs.

Tate said an example would be $25 for artificial insemination breeding and to add 400 pounds of gain to a 550-pound animal could reach a total cost of $225 to $250.

Darvin Nix, ranch manager, talked at the ranch, which was visited on May 18 by members of the Ottawa-Craig County Cattlemen’s Association. He focused attention on the business of raising dairy or beef heifers for other producers.

Tate purchased the former Neill Feedyard where it has its operations.

Tate buys cattle from large ranches in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota where more than 1,000 head can come from one source.

All cattle are source-identified and none are finished at the ranch. Programs to raise calves are available at the ranch or the owner’s farm.

A good vaccination program improves cattle value because animals will have lower medical costs, Nix said. He cited an example of bringing more than 1,000 head of vaccinated heifers from Montana to Oklahoma. There were no deaths and only five became ill.

The ranch wants calves they raise for others to be weaned in 30 days and growing before being delivered to the ranch. Owners select the bull semen they desire for breeding their heifers and which vaccinations for their cattle.

The ranch uses technology for heat detection in heifers and takes pelvic measurements prior to breeding.

Heifers are sorted to be in 30-day calving increments and in three frame sizes.

The ranch has three sales a year, two for beef cattle and one for dairy heifers. The ranch is not bonded and it does not have insurance to sell cattle for others, Nix said.

Owners who bring cattle to Tate Cattle can sell their animals in the Superior system. Cattle can be commingled to get similar types of cattle. A different color of ear tag is used to identify animals by owners. The day before a sale, cattle are weighed and some can be weighed on sale day, he said.

Heifers are managed to calve at two years. Nix likes a cow to weigh 1,000 to 1,100 pounds and wean a 500-pound calf. Higher-weaning weights mean larger animals.

The first sale of bred heifers last fall found many cattle going to buyers in area states, Nix said.

The ranch raises and buys bulls. Bulls are used two years and sold. Breeding bulls must have had a low birth weight, he said.

Tate Cattle uses expected progeny difference (EPD) data only for low birth weight when selecting bulls. “We want a live calf born with no problems from a first calf heifer who will be ready to rebreed,” he said.

People who retain ownership of their heifers can pay more to select semen with more EPD traits. Nix warned EPD data must be managed to avoid getting one desired trait at the expense of another.

“Ninety percent of the bred-dairy heifers we sell go to the big dairies in Arizona and California,” he said.

Details: Tate Cattle, (918) 778-3350.

Feeding the 6,000

n Tate Cattle has 2,500 acres of Bermuda grass and fescue pastures divided into 40- to 60-acre paddocks.

n Cattle are moved every 14 days.

n The ranch also buys hay, corn silage obtained from area farmers, wet distillers grain with 65 percent moisture and cotton gin screenings.

Source: Tate Cattle Co.

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