ST. PAUL — Yes, young people are indeed getting involved in the beef industry. While attending the Minnesota Beef Expo, I met Luke Lieffring of Glenwood City, Wis. He’s 26 years old and already talks like a ‘seasoned pro’.
I chatted with Lieffring on Oct 18 at the “Genetics — Frozen in Time” display. It was apparent to me it won’t be long until this young man will be making a reputation in the world of beef production.
“Yes, I see this as an important part of my future in the beef industry,” began Lieffring. “I’ve got a 60-cow herd so far. I bought this bull this past spring and started collecting on him. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There’s a big market for having a good bull to collect semen and market across the country.”
Lieffring’s particular critter is a Red Baldy Semimetal with the aggressive name of War Hero. “All my family has been in the military,” he explained. “I thought this name just very well represents the fine country we live in!”
War Hero is a yearling bull so time will tell as to his ‘proven genetics’ stature. “We purchased him from Bovine Elite out of Texas,” said Lieffring. Bovine Elite, College Station, Texas is rather big in the bovine world with 16 different beef breeds on their web site! “We distribute him ourselves. Our best donor is bred to him right now.”
War Hero was hauled to an Iowa semen collecting firm, Nichols Cryo Genetics in Maxwell. Lieffring said one collection can range anywhere from 80 units to 800 units. “They can jump those bulls two to three times a week.”
Good nutrition helps prepare for this ability. “At Nichols, they keep their bulls on the thinner side. You don’t want excess fat — especially around their testicles. Lean and fit is their style. War Hero dates back to Feb. 14, 2018. He weighs right at about 1,500 lbs.,” said Lieffring — explaining that War Hero is not yet into his prime. “Next year, when we’ve got a few of his calves, we can start seeing what his future might work out for him.”
War Hero already has some impressive credentials. He was champion Simmental bull at the Wisconsin State Fair last August. At the Beef Expo, War Hero was sheltered in the show barn facility. Lieffring is transporting him to the National Western Stock Show in Denver in January.
So when does his ‘real world’ pleasure begin? “Next year he’ll have the run of the pasture with our entire cow herd,” said Lieffring.
Lieffring said his selection of the Simmental breed was easy. “I’ve always had a special regard for the Simmentals. Just down the road from our farm is Cloud Nine Cattle Company with the Red Angus program. Last year their bull won at National Western in Louisville. Working with Triple C Genetics last year, I learned about Windy Ridge Simmentals in Nebraska. I started buying their Simmental cattle and it just escalated from there.”
Lieffring chuckled, “In this business it’s just as much about who you know just what you know!” He added, “As a young guy in this industry, I learned quickly the more mentors and the more good people I meet along the way, the more rounded individual I can be.”
So with semen sales as part of his future, what’s the charge for War Hero semen? “35 a unit,” said Lieffring — explaining War Hero is still a young, mostly unproved sire. And Red Baldy Simmental doesn’t yet have the ‘breed status’ of some older, bigger breeds in the beef industry. “The more calves he produces, which in turn become ‘show ring’ champs, the bigger his resume becomes. So it takes some time,” summed up Lieffring. But at this stage, in this young beef man’s history, he looks and sounds like a sure bet.
Beyond his Glenwood City High School career, the University of Wisconsin short course at Madison has been his formal education so far. “I went for dairy herd management and just short of stumbled into beef herd management; so that college degree might not even happen.”