The Millikan family is sure about one thing- they love everything about their Brangus cattle and have a passion for the lifestyle they lead. In 1981 Homer and Carolyn Millikan, currently the owners of HC Brangus in Sedgewickville, Mo., had been raising registered Angus cattle when they bought a three-quarter Brangus bull and made the decision to introduce Brangus genetics into their breeding program.
Homer had been custom fitting show cattle and Carolyn was active in the show circuit when the couple, now married more than 50 years, initially met in Sedgewickville as young sixteen-year-olds. Homer admits it was his wife who convinced him to get involved in seedstock production, but it was Roy Meyer, Carolyn’s uncle, who taught him the ropes. Making a living strictly in the cattle business, Homer said you have to know what you are doing and know what you are selling.
“I’m trying to breed good, sound cattle,” Homer said. “I try to be consistent, and I breed cattle that are born small and gain weight before weaning time and perform on minimum feed. They have a lot of bone, rear end and ribeye area because it puts more thickness, depth and more length to your cattle; if you have a long, heavy-boned animal, they’ll put on more pounds.”
Carolyn said their steers often qualify for value added programs like Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and grade Choice on the grading scale. She compliments Brangus for being efficient, adaptable to their environment and more profitable because they weigh heavier at weaning.
“Our Brangus calves weighted 100 pounds more at weaning than Angus, grew bigger on less feed and can take the cold as well as the hot,” Carolyn said.
“They’re out grazing and not standing in the pond when it’s hot,” Homer agreed, “and they will eat a lot rougher forage than any other cow I know of. They can pick the blooms out of thistles and never get a sticker.”
Aside from the Brangus breed’s advantageous qualities, Homer places emphasis on smart management techniques to make the business successful. He knows everything there is to know about his cattle. He weighs them each month after weaning, he knows what they are eating, how much feed they get and exactly how much feed cost per pound.
“You’ve got to know your input cost and if it’s worth it to keep them on feed,” Homer said. “If they’re not gaining weight, you have to get rid of them, but we have very few that won’t gain like they should.”
Knowing their product and having specific goals for their breeding program is what has enabled Homer to easily market his cattle and build a positive reputation with his customers, some of which have been buying HC Brangus cattle for 15 years.
The Millikans utilize some of the latest technologies to be more efficient. Homer uses Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) to compare birth weight (BW) and ribeye area (REA) between two animals. The Millikans also utilize artificial insemination (AI) techniques to gain more access to other bloodlines, which their daughter, Bobbi Welker, oversees.
“We have daughters from our herd bull, and AI’ing gives us more options,” Welker said. “My daughter wanted to get into the club calf sires. We crossed the Maintainer bull with some of our Brangus heifers and got some nice looking heifer calves.”
Helping her mom and dad with the family business is a lifestyle Welker and her family appreciate and enjoy. She said it gives her an opportunity to teach her daughter, Samantha, important life lessons and how to be self-sufficient. Moreover, she said she could spend hours just watching the cows and calves; it is a peaceful place someone can go to get away from life’s demands and busy schedule.
“It’s great to have your family together and working together,” Welker said. “It’s a lot of work, but when you’re working together it can be a lot of fun.”
If you have questions about Brangus genetics or want more information, contact the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) at 210-696-8231 or visit www.gobrangus.com to find a Brangus breeder near you.