When it comes to raising cattle, Kenny Hinkle has it down to a science. So much so that the sale price of bulls form Hinkle Prime Cut Angus (HPCA) averaged $5,400 this past march.
That’s something Kenny is proud of, but what he finds even more gratifying is that over 70 percent of his bull sales went to repeat customers last year.
With his wife, Janyce, Kenny runs about 200 commercial and registered Angus cows on approximately 600 acres in Nevada, MO. Their enterprise, which they began in 1995, sells around 200 bulls a year through private treaty or a production sale Kenny conducts every March. And, everything is done through artificial insemination (AI) or embryo transfer (ET0.
To be able to sell 200 bulls a year, HPCA transfers around 300 embryos per year and also does “joint venture” bulls with small Angus producers who have purchased females in HPCA sales.
“They buy females, and then when they calve, we partner on any bulls out of our cows, as long as they follow AI and ET, and use the same sires out of the group we are currently using,” Kenny said. “Then we market those bulls. They do the weaning; we take it from there and split the profits.”
Kenny flushes about eight donors every 60 days throughout the year. A group of females is selected once a year to be included in the donor group. Currently about 70 percent of the bulls HPCA sells the result of embryo transfer.
As far as selecting the donors, Kenny said they sort females at a young age and let them calve at two years, Then, they observe the heifers’ mothering skills and milk production. Based on their observations and DNA profiling for such attributes as marbling, yearling weight, fat and internal fat, they select 12 that excel.
“We select what we think are out best females, based on what we see,” Kenny offered. Then with six drops of blood on a card – and $75 for the DNA profile – we will know more about the cow than if she had eight calves naturally.”
“DNA allows us to improve out genetics more rapidly than we’ve ever been able to,” Kenny said. “It’s amazing what science can do. A lot of people don’t realize how much we use science in the cattle business.”
Besides genetics, the other thing that has helped Kenny’s operation prosper is sound nutrition. He buys all of his hay, rather than raising his own. And, he provides automatic water, fencing off all ponds, which he says are too difficult to keep clean.
And, over the past three years, he has employed Purina’s Accuration, which he credits with maintaining – even benefiting – his herd during drought conditions.
“I learned about Accuration at a seedstock producer conference in 2010 at Purina’s Animal Research Farm,” Kenny explained. “I had never used it before, but it has made a world of difference.”
“What really impressed me was the last two dry summers we got by without feeding any hay,” Kenny said. “We fed straight Accuration from the middle of July on, and the cattle were in as good of shape as they have ever been in their entire lives. Plus, we had the best conception rate ever on AI, and I think a lot of that is because of Accuration.”
Their first round of AI yielded a 78 percent conception rate, and the first round of ET in a 68 percent conception rate at 45 days.
The feeding program, customized to the needs of the bulls, heifers and cows, was designed by Purina Nutritionist N.T. Cosby, Ph.D., along with Leland Browning at Heiman, Inc. in Rockville, MO.
Leland explained, “We start Kenny’s calves on a special mix. Then after the calves learn how they eat, they go on Accu-Creep. After weaning, the bulls go on to the Accuration Impact Grower program, and the heifers go on a development program built around Accuration, corn and forages. All groups are provided mineral supplements year round. The minerals selected vary based on forage quality and the needs of cattle.
Purina’s Wind and Rain All Season 7.5 with Altosid was used for fly control from May until first frost, and All Season 7.5 with Aureomycin the remainder of the year. In addition, Availa 4 Tubs were provided to donor cows year round and for bulls 60 days before semen was collected.
The results were so impressive, Leland added, that one of Kenny’s heifer customers from Louisiana called Heiman, Inc. to find out how they had fed the cattle because, “he had never seen cows that looked that good.”
Kenny concurs. “We would not have had a $5,400 bull sale without them being developed on Purina. Plus, if I need anything I pick up the phone and call Leland or Bud Mareth, the Purina regional rep, and they will get in touch with N.T. and get it done.”
Kenny praises the program’s cost-effectiveness, exhorting other producers to think more analytically about their feed choices.
“People look at price per ton of feed. Instead they should look at price per pound of gain – or conception rate, or whatever their goals are,” Kenny declared. “Our bull feed costs us about $4 per day per head, but the average cost of gain is 93 cents. Anybody today would be tickled to put on four pounds per day at 93 cents per pound.”