Our Entries to Transcon’s 2014 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale
We are pleased to present three herd bull prospects at Transcon’s 2014 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale on March 17th at 1:00pm at Westerner Park, Red Deer, Alberta. This is our fourth year at this event, and we are proud to be included in the strong offering that is always presented by this progressive group of breeders.
This year’s group features the Dora Lee Christina cow family. Christina was one of the founding females we selected from Dora Lee (with daughter Caitlin at side) to form the core of our herd. She has two daughters working here, but is probably best known for being the dam of APLX Santana, the $11,000 bull selected by Vaughn Gibbons at Cow-A-Rama in 2011. Christina sends a Dora Lee Jake son to town this year – ‘Javar’ is a really intriguing dark red, heavily pigmented, moderate frame bull that has developed into a real head turner (and is pictured above). Her daughter Caitlin also has a neat bull on offer – ‘Bradshaw’ a dark red Bronson son, loaded with volume and style. We think you will be impressed with what this cow family has to offer.
Our third bull, ‘Elway,’ is this years’ standout smooth polled Dora Lee’s Equinox. Like his sire, Elway showcases the tremendous volume and length of spine that sire Equinox is known for. We may be biased, but we believe Equinox to be the best homozygous Fleckvieh bull available. Now with four calf crops on the ground, his daughters are also coming into production, suggesting that Equinox also excels as a cow maker.
Our 2014 offering also showcases a glimpse into our breeding philosophy. We firmly believe that the future will bring an increased herd size on the same amount of available labour. This means that with less labour available on a per cow basis, birth weights will come down to improve calving ease, and that gradually more and more horns will be bred off the cattle. Our goal is to try and accomplish this while maintaining the strong performance and mothering ability the Simmental breed is known for.
We also want to ensure our bulls will work for many years, so feet, legs and temperament are very important traits for us. The bulls are housed in a 5 acre paddock to ensure lots of exercise, and have been developed on a ration of free-choice quality first cut hay, combined with a forage based pellet by Country Junction. All three bulls are quiet and have been tie-broke. We like working and walking through docile cattle, and feel the herd bull should be no exception.
Individual pages (short-cut links are located in the right-hand column) have been created for ‘Javar’, ‘Bradshaw’, and ‘Elway’. Please note that all three of the bulls are later born (Jan 27-Feb 7) so they will be almost a month younger than a lot of their peers at the sale barn. The tightly grouped birth dates, and moderate birth weights (92-95lbs), should allow for ready appraisal of the different characteristics these three bulls possess. On the individual pages, we have also pictured the sires, dams and grand dams. Maternal lines are very important to us, and we feel that behind every great bull is an outstanding cow family. As some people prefer paper copies, we also have individual bull profiles available in PDF format that can be e-mailed and printed, or sent by regular mail. Please let us know if you would like any additional information on any of our animals.
2013 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale Report
After stormy weather on the week-end, it was nice to see sunny skies and a good crowd in Red Deer to watch 65 bulls sell on Monday, March 18th. First in the ring was a pair of excellent red Simmental bulls consigned by sale stalwarts, Oh Kay Farms.
The two reds were followed into the ring by our very own APLX Axel 5Z who was the lead off fullblood bull. After strong interest from some fellow purebred breeders, Axel was purchased by MI Simmentals – Mike Imler for $11,200. Axel ended up being the overall high seller of the day and we look forward to delivering him to Okotoks to his new home this week-end. It is great that he is staying here in Alberta, where we will be able to see future progeny in the Southern Alberta Simmental Round-up Sales.
Axel was followed in the sale by APLX Edge 4Z, who sold to Barney Beechinor of Bentley for $3,000 and APLX Ajax 15Z who sold to Conostoga Farms of Oyen for $5,500. We look forward to these two bulls going to work in commercial herds here in Alberta. We have added all three bulls to our ‘Applecross @ Work’ section, and hope to provide updates on their development in the future.
Other sale highlights included:
- Lot 28 ‘Champs Richlar’ – a nicely pigmented LRX Jiro son that sold from Champ Simmentals to Big Sky Simmentals of Treherne MB for $7,100
- Lot 41 ‘Starwest Pol Gravity’ an impressive JNR Gravity son that sold from Starwest Simmentals to Clearwater Simmentals of Olds for $6,000
- Lot 35 ‘Keato Pol Revved Up’ a powerful JNR’s Secret son from Keato Meadows Simmentals that was selected by Eagle Ridge Simmentals for $5,800.
Overall the sale grossed just over $236,000 on 65 lots, for an average of $3,632. We would be remiss not to recognize the team at Transcon for doing a tremendous job working the phones and managing the sale – They are always a quality, professional sales management team.
Over the past three years, it has been great to be a part of the Red Deer Bull Sale and 2013 was certainly no exception. We were both humbled and honored with the number of compliments our pen of bulls received throughout the week-end from peers in the purebred industry and commercial cattlemen alike. We strive to produce top quality cattle, and can at times be our own worst critics, so it is wonderful to hear all the kind words. Not a year goes by that we don’t learn how to do things a little better for next year, and it is equally important to continue to receive tips and advice on how to make improvements to our program. With the bull sale now in the rear-view mirror, we look forward to the start of breeding season, and the challenge of developing more bulls for future years.
Our Entries to the 2013 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale
We are pleased to present three herd bull prospects at Transcon’s 2013 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale on March 18th at 1:00pm at Westerner Park, Red Deer, Alberta. This is our third year at this event, and we are proud to be included in the strong offering that is always presented by this progressive group of breeders.
This year’s group consists of two Gidsco Appollo sons (Axel, Ajax), and one from Dora Lee’s Equinox (Edge). The Appollo sons both combine their sires’ dark red colour and maternal strengths and each are backed by outstanding cow families. Ajax also has the intriguing twist of being scurred/polled. As an Equinox son, Edge is also scurred/polled, and showcases the tremendous volume and length of spine that Equinox is becoming known for. Please note that both Ajax and Edge were registered as polled calves, but since that time they have each developed small scurs, which we have left on and that you will notice in the pictures. All three bulls show lots of muscling, and have tremendous hair coats.
Individual pages (short-cut links are located in the right-hand column) have been created for ‘Axel’, ‘Ajax’ and ‘Edge’. The bulls have been developed on a ration of free-choice quality first cut hay, combined with a forage based pellet by Country Junction. The bulls are housed in a 5 acre paddock to ensure lots of exercise, have been tie-broke, and have quiet temperaments. On the individual pages, we have also pictured the sires, dams and grand dams. Maternal lines are very important to us, and we feel that behind every great bull is an outstanding cow family. As some people prefer paper copies, we also have individual bull profiles available in PDF format that can be e-mailed and printed, or sent by regular mail. Please let us know if you would like any additional information on any of our animals.
The 2013 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale promises to be another exciting event. We look forward to a great day on March 18th at Westerner Park.
Update: As of February 28th, all three bulls measured up nicely and have passed their semen test. Scrotal Circumferences have been addded to their respective individual pages. Next Stop: Red Deer.
(Late) Autumn Update
While it seems to feel more like winter with every day (and every snowfall), the calendar insists we are still in autumn. Thankfully, the ‘fall work’ is done, and there are just a few jobs left to get finished prior to the ‘real’ winter and an early January start to calving season.
This years’ calves continue to develop and mature. With some time off the farm in November, being away for even just a few days means that you can appreciate the size difference when you get back home. The bulk of our calves were heifers in 2012, so after a thorough culling, we only have a small group of 3 bull calves to winter, which we think make a nice, consistent group. Pictured above from left to right are Ajax, Edge and Axel. APLX Ajax 14Z, the youngest (Feb 17th) bull, is an intriguing polled Gidsco Appollo son. The middle bull is APLX Edge 4Z, a tremendously long Equinox son, who projects to be the heaviest bull come bull sale time (and is also polled/scurred). The bull on the right is APLX Axel 5Z, who is also an Appollo by our Tasha (Porterhouse Regent) cow. Dark red with a moderate frame, tremendous depth and thickness, Axel was picked out by many of our visitors this summer. We look forward to watching them develop over the next few months, before getting them semen tested and cleaned up for pictures. Assuming all goes well, the bulls are tentatively set to sell at Transcon’s Red Deer Sale in March.
With all of those heifer calves around, I really look forward to watching them mature, and can’t wait to see them on grass next summer – I think they will be an amazing group. There are a quite a number of really strong heifers – in addition to the Viper daughters I talked about previously, I also really like how our Eclipse, Broadway and Pharao calves all turned out. I think they will all turn into awesome front end females. We have more pregnancies from each of those four bulls on the way for next year, so we are really looking forward to what January’s calf crop brings.
With our herd numbers almost to where we want them to be, 2013 is the first year that I will actually be hoping to get bull calves. There are those certain cows that haven’t given us a daughter yet, and there are some matings that you visualize with a heifer in mind, but for 2013 I am hoping for a real strong set of bull calves to choose from. While we do plan on marketing females at some point, it is our bulls that head to town annually to showcase our operational and genetic philosophy. We will have a diverse group of matings coming up, and I think all of them have the potential to be very good, with hopefully some tough selections to be made next summer when whittling down 2014′s keeper pen.
This time of year, while most people start getting excited about Christmas, I start anticipating the start of the new calving season in early January. Calving never goes exactly as planned, and some of the combinations that seem so exciting now, may not pan out the way we expect, but it will be an exciting time nevertheless. You never know what you are going to get until that calf arrives safely (and then that is only the start of the journey).
Applecross @ the National Trust
I spent a few days in Manitoba for Transcon’s National Trust in early November. The sale had a large number of quality animals, and showcased the breed well under the big lights of the Brandon Livestock Expo.
I have attended all five of the National Trust sales, and really enjoy the concept. The idea that the best in Simmental genetics can be brought together in one sales event, in a ‘showcase’ type format, has a lot of merit, and over the past 5 years I think it has proven to be a resounding success. We were fortunate enough to be able to showcase a bull at each of the last two events, and with the success we experienced we thought it important to continue to support the sale in its new location.
While we weren’t successful purchasing any live lots, we did acquire 10 more doses of Anchor D Viper semen. We watched this bull sell, and originally acquired a semen package in the spring of 2011. This year Viper sired a couple of our top heifer calves, and we admired how his bull calves looked in the Beechinor string in Red Deer. With Viper’s passing away this summer, leading to questions around future availability, we thought it made sense to invest now in increasing our semen bank.
We are also impressed by Viper’s genomic profile that the John & Stephon Beechinor were willing to share with us. He has tested to be very feed efficient (top 1% of the breed), while still remaining above the breed average for ADG. Our two heifers also tested well, showcasing his ability to pass these genomic indicators to his offspring. While great genomic markers don’t mean a whole lot if you don’t like the calves, the combination of outstanding physical traits with great genetic potential is something that was worth the additional investment.
I really enjoyed the Brandon facility – having the barns, hotel and restaurants all under one roof was a pleasure – especially considering the 6 inches of snow we received on Friday. It is a concept that deserves merit at other locations (Agribition in Regina, Westerner Park here in Red Deer).
One of the hidden benefits of moving the Trust to Manitoba this year, was that it also allowed us Albertans an excuse to go and tour farm operations while we were in the province. While in Manitoba, we got to see both Kopp Farms and Big Sky Simmentals.
Kopp Farms had a tremendous group of about 100 bull calves; nicely weaned, all tie broke(!), and already strutting their stuff. I am far from being an expert in red Simmental genetics, but I thought the Crosby and Walker sons really stood out. On the heifer side, I really liked the Virginia Santiago calves. We really appreciated the time and Edmund and Pauline Kopp spent showing us their program.
Despite all the snow on the ground, I also really enjoyed touring Big Sky (at Amy and Trevor’s). While it wasn’t the home ranch, there were a lot of impressive bull calves and an awesome group of big, powerful Fleckvieh cows just finishing up on pasture. I have always admired the performance in the Big Sky cattle, and after seeing some of their cows and bull calves, it is clear that the power is backed up deep on equal sides of the pedigree.
Both of these herds have high quality cattle, from which I could envision acquiring genetics in the future, so it is great to be able to visit and get a closer insight into their operation. It was certainly a lot easier to get away in early November, than to try and juggle calving with attending their respective Feb-March bull sales. As both breeders had cattle in the sale itself, it was great that that they were able to take the time to tour us around their farms, despite being so busy. There are a number of other operations I’d like to visit in Manitoba, so here is hoping that I will be able to make it back to tour some more in the next few years.
While it was a short visit to Manitoba, it was great to see such great cattle and visit with such knowledgeable breeders - both in Brandon and on our tours in the countryside. I look forward to seeing what excitement the next edition of the National Trust brings.
Introducing our 2012 Walking Bulls.
We finished breeding season on July 2nd when our walking bulls were pulled and moved to their own paddock. We managed to get a couple of pictures of them in their working condition, and have added new individual pages in our Herdbook / Reference Sire section for APLX Escalade 9Y and APLX Samson 10Y.
Our 2012 walking bulls both come from our own program, but are certainly different in their own right. Since arriving in February 2011 with an 80lb birth weight, we have always kept an eye on Escalade, hoping that he would develop into a bull that we could use on heifers while maintaining the performance we desire. With Escalade destined to be our ‘heifer bull,’ we then set out to hunt for an outcross herd bull to use on the balance of our cow herd. After an extensive search, we just kept coming back to an off-age bull in our own bull pen. Samson was too young to be a ‘sale’ bull, but too good not to keep an eye on. As winter turned to spring, he showcased the performance and style that suggested that he could be the performance herd bull we were looking for. Both bulls show a lot of promise, so we were quite pleased to have them available.
Both of these bulls have lived up to our expectations. Despite their relatively young ages, they both went out and went right to work in their first season. While we were very successful with our AI program, we expect to have a good sample of calves from each of our two new walking bulls starting next February. They will both winter here, and we anticipate using them both more extensively in 2013.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to walking bulls carrying your own prefix. I think that one of the benefits is that you know the cow families, and their respective backgrounds, a lot better. In the case of each of these bulls, I have had the privilege of watching their maternal lines develop and evolve over the past 20 years. It is perhaps unsurprising that both bulls can be traced back to SRN 2Y, the foundation cow at Dora Lee. (What WAS surprising is that Escalade can be traced back to 2Y on three of the four quarters of his pedigree).
The down side of walking your own bulls, of course, is that you can back yourself into a genetic corner a few years down the road, once they have daughters working. While AI can certainly mitigate part of this, the easiest way to add new genetics is via an outcross walking bull. With two herd bulls, and the capacity for three walking groups, we continue to search (365 Days of the Year) for those outcross genetics that will fit our myriad of criteria. In the interim, we are quite pleased with the job these two young bulls have done.
I was originally going to title this ‘Spring’ update but, while the snow has mostly gone, sub zero temperatures, random flurries and lots of wind hasn’t made this season feel too much like spring yet. Not that I am complaining. After the warm temperatures we enjoyed this winter I have nothing to complain about. It is truly special to walk out to the straw pack and see that a calf was born unassisted, and is up and drinking on their own, without having to worry about it freezing. While the mild winter can create its own set of challenges, we are truly thankful for the great calving season. The final tally has us with a 2 heifer to 1 bull ratio, which definitely means that the first Applecross females will be marketed this fall.
April brings ‘Spring Fever’ to our house (which is more than just me chasing Jeanne around the kitchen!). Perhaps cabin fever is a more apt description. Since the daylight hours are so long, and those pesky night checks are done for the season, there seems to be more time and energy to get those ‘after supper’ chores done in preparation for spring. Those ‘to-do’ lists that were made during the winter months get transferred into action. It is also great just to be outside more, without the heavy clothing, working away at those endless number of things that need done around the farm.
We have been able to get the cows out of the corrals behind the barn and onto our ‘shoulder season’ pasture that we use for December and April-May. It is a three acre paddock, complete with an old horse ‘round pen’ they can utilize for shelter. It is great to see them more relaxed; out of the mud and using their feet and legs more. I think the exercise is good for the calves too – they sure change in the few months since birth. It doesn’t take long for the bulls to start looking like bulls, and the heifers to start ‘princessing’ around the yard.
Speaking of ‘Princesses’; that is a great word to describe our Anchor D Viper calves. We only got heifers, but they sure are easy to pick out. They all seem to have the certain intangible ‘sass’ about them that is really neat to see. If there is going to be a calf to follow you around when you’re checking cows, looking for some attention, it will be a Viper heifer.
Dad has always said that the key to a successful breeding season is to make more ‘good decisions’ than ‘bad ones’. Sometimes a genetic combination works out; other times it does not. Hopefully each calf crop yields more of the ‘good’, and fewer ‘bads’. For the 2012 edition, I think I am firmly on the ‘good’ side of the ledger, though there are a few matings that didn’t work out quite the way I hoped. I always try to treat mistakes as something to learn from, instead of constantly second guessing myself. That is one of the great things about the cattle business: there is always next year to plan for.
To help me plan, I really try to keep detailed notes; some days those notes morph into a journal. It really helps the memory, and can be referred back to; little details can be remembered. Everything from calving tendencies and gestations, to a genetic cross that worked (and those that don’t). We live in such an information society, being able to go back and refer to notes – and have an accurate record of what you were thinking at the time, instead of relying on an increasingly bad memory (or just whatever you have heard recently) – is a great help when making decisions.
We are thick into AI season. I have a detailed chart of who should be bred, and to what; but that doesn’t always stop me from changing my mind when Donna McMurtry drives in the lane to breed them. Having Donna available is a great resource. As she has bred thousands of cows over the years, her level of expertise is tremendous. Having been around the breed for 35+ years, she also has an interesting perspective on what genetics work.
The biggest addition to our 2012 AI line-up is IPU Bronson. I really admire the Bronson females that Harry and Michelle Satchwell have working down at Virginia Ranch. They really are a sight – I think at one point they had something like 17 daughters working there – and they are all tremendous big volume cows. As we didn’t manage to get any daughters bought, we are excited to hopefully develop some for our own over the next few years.
We will also be AI’ing more to Dora Lee Eclipse this year; specifically on our heifers. His first daughters that I have working (now aged 4) are really impressive – and I have a really nice heifer calf this year too. There is a lot to like about Eclipse – he has both calving and maternal calving (a Fleckvieh rarity), he is coloured right, puts square udders on his females, and he can take the horns off. There is something to be said about keeping a semen bank around to re-visit 5 years down the road after you know a genetic combination works.
Spring is also when our bulls are introduced to their new homes. One of the great things about delivering bulls is the opportunity to tour the operation, and see what management techniques and genetic direction different herds are taking. I haven’t toured a herd yet where I haven’t learned something. This held true when we had the opportunity to tour the Langer and Wa-Na-La-Pa herds when delivering APLX Santana in a mid-March snow storm. One of the many things that stood out for us on this visit, was the work they had done with their new panel set-up that replaced old wooden corrals. The panels provide lots of flexibility and allowed multiple confined breeding and AI groups, all close together without the bulls seeming to bother each other; despite several cows being in heat that day. I see more panels in my future!
We also quite enjoyed our visit to Lone Stone Farms in February. One of our conditions in selling Envoy at the 2011 National Trust in November, was that we wanted to winter him prior to delivering him to Lonnie & Karen. So, on another snowy winter day, we travelled to Westlock to enjoy a wonderful lunch and most of an afternoon visiting. Even though it was only 4 days prior to their annual bull sale (and with plenty of jobs still yet to get done), they were more than happy to spend a lot of time with us showing us their program. One of the things that stood out for us on the visit, was the uniformity of the cattle. For the past 30 years they have developed a clear vision of what they want their cattle to look like, and that was clearly evident by how consistent their cow groups were. The success of their approach was clearly proven in the success of their Friday Bull Sale. Improving the uniformity of our cow herd is something that I look forward to, now that our herd numbers are almost to where we want them to be.
A last closing comment on bull season: while it has been a great year for bull sales overall, I would also suggest that it has been an amazing year for the ‘best of the best’. I don’t recall another spring where I have seen or heard of more bulls sell for $10,000+, $20,000+ or $40,000+. In some ways, it is not surprising; a rising industry should lead to reinvestment by both commercial cattlemen and by breeders. It is just great to see so much dedication / enthusiasm throughout the entire industry again in 2012. Here is hoping it continues on for the next few years.
2012 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale Report
With a winter storm blowing into the eastern part of the province, we were pleased to see sunny skies and a capacity crowd in Red Deer to watch 94 bulls sell on Monday, March 19th. First into the ring was ‘Beech Bro Booster 52Y’ an impressive Upgrade son, who created lots of excitement and ended up topping the sale for $25,000 to Kopp Farms Simmentals in Manitoba.
Our very own APLX Jackson 3Y was the 5th bull in the second group of Fullbloods. After strong interest from some fellow purebred breeders, Jackson was purchased by West Gold Simmentals of Minburn, AB for $12,000. We were both humbled and honoured with the result, and look forward to Jackson getting to work with the fine herd that Ken Gilbert has developed over the years. We would also like to thank Keato Meadows, Little Willow Creek and Big Sky Simmentals for all showing interest in Jackson on sale day. We have added Jackson to our ‘Applecross @ Work’ section, and look forward to providing updates on his development.
Other sale highlights include: Lot 20 ‘Beech Bros Anarchy 604Y’ – a nice red IPU Revlolution son that sold to DGR Cattle Co. for $14,500 and Lot 1 ‘Beech Bros Cobra 69Y’ an impressive Anchor D Viper son that sold to Champ Simmentals for $12,000. As you can see from the high seller list, the Beechinor cattle were extremely well received. Overall the sale grossed $455,000 on 94 lots, for an average of $4,840. Bulls sold to all the Western Provinces, with 6 bulls topping the $10,000 threshold; emphasizing the deep pool of breeder quality bulls that were available in Red Deer.
Once again, we were pleased to be a part of this great showcase of the Simmental breed.
We are pleased to present two herd bull prospects at Transcon’s 2012 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale on March 19th at 1:00pm at Westerner Park, Red Deer, Alberta. This is our second year at this event, and we are proud to be included in the strong offering that is always presented by this progressive group of breeders.
Both of this year’s entries are sired by Dora Lee Jake. I was with Dad when he purchased Jake’s dam, MRLN Josette, as an open heifer from the 1995 Fleck Select sale. We were incredibly happy when the legendary Bob Gordon selected Jake, her first son, to go to stud at ALTA in 1998; and now, 12 years later, we are able to tap into these proven Fleckvieh genetics in our own herd here at Applecross. While Jake may be better known for his daughters (Dora Lee Amelia – a flush cow at Wa-Na-La-Pa, and Dora Lee Elexis – dam of Dora Lee Eclipse and donor in the Anchor D program), we are quite impressed with how these two sons have developed. Both bulls balance the performance of their sire with strong maternal traits from their young dams.
Individual pages (short-cut links are located in the right-hand column) have been created for both ‘Joshua’ and ‘Jackson’. Both bulls are heavily pigmented, have moderate (90-100 lb) birth weights, show lots of muscling, and have tremendous hair coats. The bulls have been developed on a ration of free-choice quality first cut hay, combined with a forage based pellet by Country Junction. The bulls are housed in a 5 acre paddock to ensure lots of exercise, have been tie-broke, and have quiet temperaments.
On the individual pages, we have also pictured the dams. Maternal lines are very important to us, and we feel that behind every great bull is an outstanding mother. We also have additional information and pictures available about the maternal grand dams; should it be of interest. As some people prefer paper copies, we also have individual bull profiles available in PDF format that can be e-mailed and printed, or sent by regular mail. Please let us know if you would like any additional information on any of our animals.
The 2012 Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale promises to be another exciting event. We look forward to a great day on March 19th at Westerner Park.