A Historic Angus herd
By LARRY KERSHNER
COON RAPIDS – According to Angus breeder Kent Musfeldt, the Angus industry established itself as a premier breed through smart genetic matings.
He said that he and his son, Kyle, are right in step with the industry, focusing more on expected progeny differences, or EPD, rather than appraisals in show rings.
The Musfedlts are second- and third-generation managers of a Historic Herd, 50 consecutive years as a registered Angus operation, by the American Angus Association.
The herd numbers 100 cows.
Kent Musfeldt said his father bought his first two bred heifers in1964 at the Bread and Butter Angus production sale in Denison from Otto Frank’s Val-Mar Farms.
“That was an historic herd in itself,” Musfeldt said. “It had a storied history.”
His father eventually bought Franks’ entire herd in 1977.
Musfeldt, along with wife Jill and their son, manage KM Cattle Co. in Coon Rapids. They moved to the area in 1992 from Kansas City, Kansas, after managing other Angus programs in the region.
In 2002, the family purchased a farm that was once part of the famed Pingrey Ranch, which is where 200 cows from the Escher and Ryan historic Angus herd landed in 1924 for Earl Ryan, prior to partnering with the Harrisons of California and starting the Harrison and Ryan operation.
Musfeldt said he took an active interest in the business at age 11.
“I knew then that in one way shape or form or another, I was going to be an Angus breeder,” Musfeldt said. “I had a passion for it.
“Dad was a good stockman. I learned a lot about animal husbandry from Dad.”
He said his father let him run with the genetic development of the herd.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, he let me AI his cows,” Musfeldt said. “And now if Kyle is around I let him do it, because he’s better at it.”
He said the operation was taken to a new level as they positioned themselves in the market with sound genetics.
In his father’s day, the ranch sold about 20 bulls annually, Musfeldt said. That’s up to about 50 bulls a year now.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate in the last three or four years,” Musfeldt said. “We’ve landed bulls with some of the major semen companies in the country.
“In fact, right now one of those bulls – Broken Bow – is one of the most popular American bulls in Australia.”
In his father’s day, the show ring was important because sales were made on appraisals.
“We want our cattle sound and attractive, of course, but we aren’t show ring-minded,” Musfeldt said. “The single most thing that advanced the Angus breed to be the dominate of all the breeds today is the EPDs. Iowa State created them about 1980.
“We can make so much genetic progress through the EPD process.”
EPDs are numbers that predict the genetic quality of future offspring of a particular bull, cow or heifer. It is a method that helps a cattle producer, seedstock or commercial operator, determine whether that particular animal is sufficient to produce the desired calves needed to either help improve the genetic quality of a breeding herd, or to sell to the meat market.
Musfeldt said EPDs allow him to compare, for instance, a bull in Iowa and one in Texas.
It “take a lot of the guess work out of it and allows us to make progress faster,” he said. “It’s like knowing a calf crop ahead of time, to know what that bull is able to do, based on his DNA.”
Rather than breeding for the show ring, Musfeldt said he prefers to breed for the characteristics of his clients’ herd needs.
“We want to do what we can to make our commercial customer more profitable,” he said, and “I’ve always felt the bull market is what’s going to keep you in business.”
Earning the Historic Herd award, “meant a lot to us,” Musfeldt said. “I makes me reflect back on Dad’s initial efforts, and I’m so thankful he chose the Angus breed to allow me to build that passion when I was a young guy.”
On the breeding map
He said the first bull that put KM Cattle Co. on the map was a bull named Krush.
Born in 1998, Krush was sold initially to brothers in Minnesota and was later sold to two Angus outfits in South Dakota.
“We still owned a third of him,” Musfeldt said. “He did a heck of a job for both those herds in South Dakota.
“Krush was a real popular Angus bull across the Dakotas.”
Musfeldt said there was no perfect animal, including Krush.
“The hole on him was his daughters weren’t very milky. You’d have to breed them back to something that would bring more milk back in. But he did a lot to add sheer performance.”
Kyle does the bulk of the cattle company’s marketing, photographing and videoing cattle for the website: kmcattle.com..
“That’s how we market our yearling bulls,” Musfeldt said. “We put them on our website for a month, with a closing day on the middle of February, where we have the bulls’ base price and the competition submits bids.”
Kyle Musfeldt is also managing the annual Earl Marshall Sellabration Sale for the Botna Valley Angus Association in December.
The Angus herd sire that changed everything in this country, according to Kent Musfeldt, was Earl Marshall.
Born in 1913, EM was the dominate bull of his time. He lived 15 years and sired 400 calves before the days of AI.
“Between him and his sons, they dominated the breed. Today, more than 16 million Angus cattle trace back to Earl Marshall.
“There are only a 1,000 head in the herd book that don’t trace back to him.”
Musfeldt said the sale was their brainchild because Otto Frank had strong Earl Marshall genetics.
“And our background is Otto Frank,” he said. “That’s why Kyle manages the Earl Marshall sale.”
Musfeldt said more than half of the bulls KM sells are for customers who “rely on us to pick them out for them. And we’re going to make darn sure that bull is going to do what (the customer) wants him to do.
“I want all of our cows to be strong in carcass weights, but some are stronger than others obviously. So we’re doing matings. We’re going to use a bull on a cow that’s going to strengthen her in areas.”
For instance, if a cow is high in marbling, but poor in ribeye, they might use a bull that’s going to be higher in ribeye.
Father and son have degrees in animal science – Kent from Northwest Missouri State; and Kyle from Iowa State University.
Kent sees the success of the Angus breed is due to two traits – the mothering ability and the carcass quality.
“That’s what makes the Angus breed stand out from all the others,” he said.
Then add to natural characteristics the technology of collecting performance data to generate EPDs, genomic testing, and ultra-sound testing for carcass composition, he said, make his bulls, cows and heifers quality animals.
In addition, tools such as heat synchronization, embryo transfers (including in vitro fertilization) help cattlemen propagate the genetics to advance the beef industry.
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