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Lovin’ his Gelbviehs

By Staff | May 9, 2011

Charles Struthers feeds a few head of his Gelbvieh cattle on his farm near Collins recently.

COLLINS – If you know of any Gelbvieh breed of cattle in the state of Iowa, chances are they can be linked back to a rural Collins area farmer, Charles Struthers.

After marrying his wife Kay in 1968 they moved to a farm in southeast Story County which they eventually purchased and where they live now. When they first came to the farm, the current owner told him that the place was set up for cattle, so Struthers decided to start raising cattle to replace his existing sheep herd.

A few years later, Struthers enrolled in to an artificial insemination class and brought that experience in to his own operation where he soon realized the Gelbvieh breed was the one that would fit best for his operation.

“I liked the results with the Gelbvieh,” said Struthers. “They make a great cow. They’re easy keeping and easier to maintain.”

Struthers has been a member of the board of directors of the Gelbvieh Breeders of Iowa since the early 1970s where not only has he served on the board, but has also served as president and held other offices as well.

Struthers started raising Gelbvieh cattle in the early 1970s.

Hewent beyond the state level to serve on the board for the National Gelbvieh Association and was awarded the National Gelbvieh Award in 2000.

Struthers has been active in promoting all breeds of beef and was on the board that started the Iowa Beef Expo in the mid-1970s.

During the farm crises of the 1980s, Struthers said they relied on the cattle to help supplement the family’s income and eventually began selling bulls as well as semen to more than 30 states nationally and internationally including Canada and Taiwan.

Struthers, and his son, Chad, farms 1,700 acres in row crops and 250 acres of pasture in addition to managing a 90-head purebred Gelbvieh herd.

Struthers said they sell around 20 to 25 bulls a year through private treaty, and the majority of the cattle buying and selling has been taken over by his son.

Collecting cattle equipment of the past includes such items as plates used in a calf's mouth to aid in the weaning process.

“I’m happy to have my son farming,. Otherwise I don’t know what I’d be doing,” said Struthers.

Struthers was named Story County Cattlemen of the Year last January during the Story County Cattleman’s annual banquet in Ames.

“I was very honored and it was a surprise,” said Struthers. “I don’t like to give speeches so just thanked everyone and sat down.”

He was also recently honored for being a Gelbvieh breeder for more than 35 years at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., this year.

A big part of Struthers’ social life, he said, is being an active member of the Collins United Methodist Church and collecting antiques.

“I liked the results with the Gelbvieh. They make a great cow. They’re easy keeping and easier to maintain.” —George Struthers Story County producer

Struthers is a self-described “collector of everything,” especially old cattle tools including dehorners, old gadgets that were once placed around a cow’s neck to keep them from going through the fence, and even cattle horn weights used to turn the horns downward.

Toy pedal tractors are a big part of his collection as well as old signs and oil cans.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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