CARROLLTON, Ohio — The Burgett family is putting its stamp on the Angus breed through a strong herd health program, an exceptional conception rate and continual investments in the herd.
The Burgetts — veterinarian Keith Burgett and his two sons, Phillip and Bryan — work as a team to keep their herd growing and healthy.
The family started in the commercial cattle business in the early 1980s. Then Bryan bought a registered Angus in 1985 for a 4-H project and the family began to add heifers from there.
In 1988, the Burgetts sold the commercial herd and went full swing into the registered Angus business.
Today, the farm produces both Red and Black Angus and raise around 275 cattle.
The family purchased a herd of Red Angus from Colorado in 2004, starting with a dozen and have built on it.
For them, the decision to develop an Angus herd was an easy one.
Dr. Burgett had been a veterinarian tending to cattle for Summitcrest Farms and had gained knowledge of the breed and its characteristics from his work with the farm’s well-known Angus herd.
He said the easy calving, ability to be a good mother, a good beef carcass and their marketing ability made Angus an easy choice for the farm.
In addition, the trio strive to produce moderate-size cattle, and good feet and legs are a must in their herd.
The Burgetts run the cattle on a total of 1,200 acres. Half of the herd is contained on reclaimed strip-mined ground leased near Magnolia, Ohio.
They use rotational grazing as much as possible on the home farm, but due to the herd size and other factors, it can be very labor intensive.
A forage-based diet is fed to the cattle after bred as yearlings, and the farm stockpiles grass to extend the grazing system, which keeps feed costs low.
The farm takes pride in keeping pastures to a manageable level and produces hay in the summer for the cattle in the winter.
They breed the herd to be managed so the cattle are self-sufficient, which helps reduce labor needs and results in efficient cattle.
The trio has designated responsibilities in the management of the herd. Phillip takes care of the budget and equipment purchases. Bryan has more of the hands-on duties involving the herd, although Phillip is responsible for raising the bulls for sale.
Great care is given to raise the bulls by hand so that they are easy to handle for buyers and care is given to ensure they are in good body condition to enter a herd for breeding purposes. The farm only keeps the top half of the bulls born for marketing purposes.
The one characteristic that must be evident in all cattle on the farm is temperament. The three of them agree it is fundamental that the cattle have a good temperament or they are out. Second chances are rarely given — if an incident happens with one cow, the cow is removed from the herd.
They agree their commitment is make sure the cattle work for their customers so they only breed using semen from well-rounded bulls.
The Burgetts have a continuous 96 percent conception rate. They artificially inseminate the cattle using estrus synchronization. They manage the herd by bringing 40 cattle in at a time for breeding. Burgett said they strive to ensure the cows are in good condition before they calve and use a good mineral program throughout the herd.
The Burgetts also strive to keep their herd healthy. They have been testing for Johne’s and are designated as a Johne’s-free herd. They are in the highest level of a national program designed to eliminate the disease from herds.
Burgett said there are very few herds in the United States not carrying the disease.
He admitted it is a costly investment for the herd every year, but it reaps rewards by telling customers the animals have been tested and do not carry the disease.
The Burgetts concentrate on a 100-mile radius to market their cattle, which includes Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Burgetts also sell bulls at the national level, at an annual sale held the first Saturday in April.
Most of all, the Burgetts concentrate on product service and a quality health program to generate repeat customers. The father and sons say their goal is two-fold: produce the best cattle possible and good beef carcasses.