Swearngin Angus is family owned, managed and operated as a modern day cattle ranch. Cattle are our life and our livelihood! We run close to 500 cows on 2500 acres of a mixture of cool and warm season grasses in the hills north of Lawrence, Kansas. We started about 40 years ago with 4H projects that got us to love cattle production. Even though our parents weren’t farmers or ranchers most of our ancestors were, and the desire to build a successful ranching operation started then…
Well it only took us 20 years to realize that breeding cattle according to performance and EPDs was making the wheels fall off of our wagon. We were losing money and got to the realization that if we didn’t change we were going to lose everything like so many in our industry had. That is when we decided to look at the realities of what was working in our herd and start there. As we studied the cattle that seemed to make a profit every year, there were common denominators in their pedigrees and we soon isolated those efficient, high producing cattle in our environments and used those to move the population forward. The first thing we did was stop buying females! Then we implemented a stricter culling process and developed a long term strategy for success to build an operation that would move forward another generation of people. Then we worked on improving our grass base along with the cattle.
Today some 10 years later we are moving forward with a nucleus of cows that are consistent in their genotype, phenotype, and their ability to be profitable. All cows are expected to calve on the range unassisted and breed back in a designated group and produce a calf that is at least 50% of her body weights on grass no creep. We also learned that a successful cattle operation starts and ends with the cow. We also stopped putting so much emphasis on one bull! Developing a great set of cattle is a genetic blending and culling process. Our goals have always been to make a profit and to be able to make a living raising cattle. We also saw that when we purchased semen or bulls from outside of our herd that the only cattle that we weren’t culling more than we were keeping came from other operations that were focused on their cattle, rangeland, and making a living from their cattle as well.
Seeking the cattle lines that worked proved to be very difficult at times to find semen available on those original lines and very costly from an investment standpoint, but we knew that in order to bring the strength of those traits forward we had to make the investment in our cattle and our future. Our sire page outlines some of the proven cattle lines that we invested in to bring those values forward. The sires represent more foundation and other sires are a combination of foundation with modern carcass merit. One of the things we learned along the way is a pedigree must be balanced! There is far more predictability from genotype then EPD’s can ever be, and phenotype is our number two criteria. DNA has come into the picture for predicting an earlier genetic probability then relying on subjective data that makes up the basis of EPD’s. We have also found that using DNA on our older proven genetic lined cattle brings there EPD’s in line with today’s standards.
The pictures on our web site represent actual untouched photos. That is why you see mud, manure and no clipping done to these cattle and they are taken in their environments. Today 25% of our cow herd is over the age of 10. Our cattle are efficient, they possess milk and they are 5 frame 1200 pound cows on the average, with an average BCS of 6. First calf heifers get no exceptions to this either. We know this as we weigh and measure every cow at weaning. The fall calving heard is expected to nurse their calves 10 months and do everything else we expect her to do. Each cow is an employee, if she doesn’t carry her load she is gone! We have found that leaving the calves on longer adds intelligence to the sons and daughters, and our cows don’t get so fat. Our cattle possess generations of built in calving ease and again are culled if a female has any issue with it, or anything that keeps her from bringing in a profitable calf at the end of the year. One of the most common responses we get from our customers is, “your cattle all look alike.”
We love developing our grassland as well. Our ranch is located on a piece of land that has never been broken out and farmed. It is very hilly and lined with limestone ridges that would make farming impossible but it grows awesome grass. The majority of the ranch is still native Bluestem based grasses with Korean Lespedeza which is an outstanding legume that fattens the cattle in late summer. Our cool season grasses include Brome grass, and Fescue which we use mostly in the fall, winter, and early spring before moving the cattle to the warm season pastures. We use burning to manage weed and brush populations and no fertilization has been used on pasture land in over 10 years. The majority of our hay production comes from Brome grass, which is fertilized and native grass hay which we use primarily on calves.
Thank you for taking the time to look at our web site. Feel free to call or come by the ranch anytime; we love talking cattle and showing you our operation.
The picture on this page represents a group of our spring calving cows. The picture was taken in March during our spring calving season that starts the first of March. Last winter this set of cows only needed three bales of hay, as they grazed dry grass for the entire winter and we didn’t have a lot of snow this past winter so they didn’t need a lot of supplemental hay. The less feed you have to haul to a cow the more opportunity there is for profit!