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Sweet surprise

Winners of Co-op’s ‘Load of Bull Sweepstakes’ appreciative of opportunity to improve their beef cattle herds
By Chris Villines, photos by Sarah Geyer, Glen Liford, and Chris Villines 1/26/2017

 

Ag Central Cooperative member Travis McConkey of Loudon is among three beef producers who won a bull based on their mineral purchases in Co-op’s Load of Bull Sweepstakes. Travis purchased his bull from ZWT Angus Ranch in Crossville.
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Three Co-op customers who purchase Co-op Cattle Mineral for their beef herds received a sweet surprise recently.

Each of the lucky producers emerged as a winner of Co-op’s recent “Load of Bull Sweepstakes.” The contest, which ran from Aug. 1, 2015, through July 31, 2016, awarded prize recipients — one from each Tennessee Farmers

Cooperative feed mill area — the choice of up to $4,000 toward the purchase of a qualified herd sire or a set of livestock scales.

Each participant in the sweepstakes automatically received one entry for each bag of qualifying Co-op Cattle Mineral purchased.

The three winners — Steve Morris of Milan (Jackson Feed Mill), Era Mai Underwood of Alexandria (LaVergne Feed Mill), and Travis McConkey of Loudon (Tenco Feed Mill) — were notified of their good fortune by their respective  Co-ops in August. Each winner had until Dec. 1 to complete their prize purchases, and each selected the option of adding a bull.

Here are reactions from the pleased prize-winners and a brief look into each one’s operation:

Steve Morris

Steve, a member of Gibson Farmers Cooperative, could hardly believe what he was hearing when he received a call from the Co-op notifying him about the sweepstakes win.

“I didn’t even know I had signed up to win a bull,” he admits. “But the timing couldn’t have worked out better.”

That’s because Steve’s existing registered Angus bull had just turned 8 years old. The clock was ticking on the animal’s productive years.

“You’ll get 10 to 12 good years out of a bull at the most,” he says. “So I knew I was going to have to get a new one soon anyway. And my older bull was getting pretty big, too — he weighed 2,100 pounds when I sold him. It was time.”

Steve asserts that he’s “always” used registered Angus bulls for his commercial herd of 22 mama cows at his 200-acre farm in Milan, where he also raises hay. True to form, this is the route he took in selecting a new bull.

“I looked around a bit, but in the end I went with a producer here in Milan that I’ve bought bulls from before,” he explains. “I’ve had good luck with them in the past, and they’re from good bloodlines. ”

Co-op Cattle Mineral has long been an integral part of Steve’s operation. He uses Supreme Hi-Mag IGR (#96623) during fly control season and Supreme Hi-Mag (#638) during fall and winter.

“I’ve been using the Co-op mineral ever since I’ve been in the cattle business,” says Steve, who also relies on Gibson Farmers Co-op for crop protectants and nutrients, seed, animal health products, and farm supplies. “It’s done a good job, so I’ve kept on going with it.”

Era Mai Underwood

Era Mai, a spunky 67-year-old who retired from a 39-year secondary school teaching career in 2012, operates her 90-acre Alexandria farm solo. She was similarly stunned when she received a phone call from Smith Farmers Cooperative alerting her that she’d won.

“I recognized the phone number on caller ID and thought, ‘What in the world is the Co-op calling me about?’” Era Mai says. “When they told me I had won, I said ‘Whoa, boy!’ I was overwhelmed and tickled to death because I never win anything. It just came out of the blue, but what a treat it was!”

After deliberating on the two prize choices, Era Mai also decided to add another registered Angus bull to her 28-head commercial herd to complement the 2-year-old bull she already had.

“I knew if I got an older bull there would be a lot of fighting and my younger one would probably get hurt, so I decided that I would get a yearling bull,” she explains. “I went to Harold Dillard, a registered Angus breeder here in Smith County, and I’ve been well satisfied with the bull I purchased. He’s good-natured and gets along well with my other bull.”

On the recommendation of her local veterinarian, Elizabeth Mitchell, Era Mai began using Co-op Supreme Cattle Mineral (#678) for her herd four years ago. And with the results she’s seen, Era Mai is confident she’ll be continuing with the mineral for years to come.

“It’s got a lot of texture to it, and it keeps them looking slick and healthy,” she says. “They love it. I want to give my cattle the best feed and mineral I can afford, and that’s what I get with the Supreme.”

Travis McConkey

The longtime, loyal Ag Central Farmers Cooperative member got his good news while traveling with wife Chrystal through Texas en route home from visiting their daughter, Cassie, an ag business student at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Okla.

“I had forgotten about the contest, to be honest, so I was sort of surprised,” says Travis, who runs a 35-head commercial beef cattle and cow/calf operation and grows hay on 300 owned-and-leased acres

in Loudon.

Like Steve and Era Mai, Travis decided to add another registered Angus bull to his herd.

“I chose the bull instead of the scales because for my operation, it just fit me better,” he says. “The bad part was I had just bought a bull last year at the [University of Tennessee] Angus Production Sale, but I’m fortunate in that I rotate my bulls every couple of years, and one of my neighbors tends to buy them when I’m finished with them.”

On Nov. 4, Travis purchased his 2-year-old bull at a sale conducted by ZWT Angus Ranch in Crossville.

“There were several bulls I had picked out to bid on,” he says. “I like their bulls because a lot of them have the Traveler influence in them. I’ve had bulls in the past from that bloodline and really liked them.”

Travis’ careful selection of his bulls mirrors the thorough care that he gives to his cattle. He employs a year-round nutritional lineup of Co-op products for them that includes 14% Beef Developer Feed with Rumensin (#94176), Sweetlix 25/17/5 Protein Tubs (#1366), and Co-op Foundation Hi-Mag Mineral (#675).

“It’s a good mineral,” he says. “The cows stay slick on it and level off good. Healthwise, they seem to be where they need to be with it. I haven’t had any problems — knock on wood — with grass tetany by keeping the Hi-Mag out year-round.”

For more information about Co-op’s complete lineup of cattle mineral products, visit with the professionals at your local Co-op.

 
 
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