Breaking Into the Seedstock Business With Outside-the-box Thinking
Making a living by raising and selling seedstock isn’t for everyone — definitely not Denise and Carl Loyning. At least, that’s what they would have told you 20 years ago.
The two grew up loving the cattle business on multigenerational ranches, but the 1980s soured any dreams they had of raising cattle themselves. Now, Denise and Carl are preparing for their seventh annual production sale. Funny how life works.
Starting from scratch
Starting from scratch, their success is largely thanks to their nontraditional approach. Denise and Carl are outside-the-box thinkers.
The two started L Bar W Cattle Co. in partnership with Mike and Jeannette Walen in 2013. The Absarokee, Montana, operation found a niche with registered horned Hereford genetics and has embraced technology like embryo transfer and genetic testing to create the best matings.
The Loynings are motivated by their customers and always push themselves by asking: “How are our bulls going to make someone else’s operation better?” On their quest for constant improvement, Denise stumbled upon Performance Beef™.
“When I first heard about Performance Beef, I immediately thought — we have to figure out how to implement this because it was designed for more of a feedlot application,” Denise says. “And I’m super happy we did.”
Beyond that, fewer days on feed means more value for fewer dollars spent.
Tracking every head
Tracking data on each head with Performance Beef helps the Loynings make better management and business decisions. Plus, it gives them peace of mind.
They provided their veterinarian with access to their account so if health issues arise, they can more easily look for the cause.
“We can go back and ask: Did they get a bump in their feed? Did we get a new batch of corn on this date?” Denise says. “If we have a chronic, we can keep track of those animals. If they’ve been treated twice, they need to be gone.”
Using Performance Beef to monitor animal health helps them proactively spot outliers too. They can track daily gain trends as they run bulls through the chute, separating the elite from the average.
“In our world, knowing how much the bulls are gaining at the touch of a button is a big deal,” Denise says. “It takes away from me working in the wee hours of the morning, putting all the data into a spreadsheet and then formulating everything.”
Turning data into powerful business insights
Denise believes strongly that knowledge is power. That’s why they use Performance Beef to track key animal data, from feed to health to performance. That data helps them understand their operation better so they can track costs more precisely.
“I don’t think too many of us know the exact cost of feeding a steer or developing a bull or replacement heifer,” Denise says. “But we had to figure out what these bulls are costing us to produce, especially as our overhead increases with fuel, feed prices and more.”
Performance Beef helps track costs they previously might have overlooked, such as straw for bedding. Monitoring inventories and every cost in one place lets them see their full investment in their animals.
“It’s a great snapshot of what our bottom dollar needs to be when we’re selling these bulls. If any of these bulls aren’t going to make that, it makes culling decisions much easier for me because we can always sell them as a steer.”
The journey ahead
Denise and Carl like to say their company is in its infancy as a seedstock producer. And they’re full of passion and excitement about their future.
“It’s the relationships that we get to build with people and hearing successes since they started using our pool of genetics. Maybe they’ve added a pound at weaning or more carcass traits thanks to a bull they bought from us,” Denise says. “Those are the things we look forward to in the journey that we’re on.”
Looking to the future, Performance Beef will continue to play an important role in their operation. “It’s a great tool,” Denise says. “The more good data we collect will only benefit us in the long run.”