A novel partnership between a cattleman and a dairyman develops a way to add value to both industries.
Table of Contents:
- Beef Meets Dairy For The Benefit Of Both
- Testing the experiment
Wulf Cattle has been a well-known name in the beef business for more than 50 years. In fact, its founders, the late Leonard and Violet Wulf, Morris, MN, put the Limousin breed of cattle on the map.
Ahead of his time in the cattle-feeding business, Leonard focused on producing “genetics right for the rail.” Feeding thousands of Limousin-influenced cattle and creating a feeder calf procurement and buyback program of Wulf-sired genetics, he knew the value of red-meat yield. Leonard often said, “We were cattle feeders before we were cattle breeders.” But anyone in the industry knew he was very good at both.
Wulf Cattle isn’t resting on its past success. The firm recently celebrated its 25th anniversary bull sale. And the legacy lives on in the next generation under the direction of son Jerry, who is charting a new course still focused on Limousin genetics, but with a new twist.
Partnering for opportunity
Jerry Wulf, left, and Adam Zeltwanger, both with Wulf Cattle of Morris, MN, are part of a novel Limousin x Jersey cattle venture with River View LLP and Genex Cooperative that is helping to meet the specific needs of both the beef and dairy sectors.
In 2012, Jerry Wulf, president of Wulf Cattle, widened the scope of the operation by forming a partnership with Riverview LLP., a neighboring dairy operation. Riverview, whose CEO Gary Fehr is Wulf’s second cousin, is one of the largest dairy operations in Minnesota and South Dakota, milking over 45,000 cows — half of which are Jersey bloodlines.
The partnership is creating new enthusiasm for both the dairy and beef industries, yet it remains true to Wulf Cattle’s objectives. Two feedyards and a cow-calf ranch in north-central Nebraska were also added to the business during the merger.
A couple of years ago, Wulf and Fehr put their heads together and realized they had unique resources at their fingertips capable of moving the beef industry toward a new paradigm. But they would have to back up their hunch with trials and experiments to document their idea. The idea was to add value to the dairy industry while impacting the beef industry, especially at a time when beef cow numbers are the lowest in 50 years.
With the arrival and adoption of sexed semen technology, the dairy industry’s replacement female market has been saturated with top-producing cows and replacements. Sexed semen allows dairy producers to continue to fine-tune genetics to get the most pounds of milk/cow/day for the marketplace.
The focus on genetics and enhanced technologies was already allowing the industry to produce milk quantities that meet consumer demands. Yet, could the traditional moneymaker on a dairy operation — the dairy cow — bring in extra income, essentially enhancing profitability and value?
The Jersey bull/steer calf is of little value to the dairy industry; he’s not highly regarded by the feedlot industry, as Jerseys tend to be inefficient feed converters with overall low red-meat yield. But Wulf was aware that Jersey cattle boasted superior meat quality with tenderness and marbling.
That’s where the genetics of Wulf Cattle come into play. If you ask Wulf why he decided to test the Limousin x Jersey, he’ll answer, “Why not?” He says the value of muscling and feed efficiency that Limousin brings as a terminal cross is unmatched, along with the documented lowest birth weight of the continental breeds, according to U.S. Meat Animal Research Center data. “With such opposites in type — beef and dairy — we’re truly maximizing heterosis,” he adds.
The end goal is to make a dairy steer into a beef steer, adding tremendous value to the initial dairy bull calf, enhancing the income ability of the milk-producing cow and creating a carcass that contributes to the beef industry.