History, Program & Philosophy
Our roots in Eastern Washington and production agriculture run deep, going back over a century.
Jaime’s mom grew up in Walla Walla County on a ranch that produces cattle,
grain, lumber and fruit. Her family still operates there today, as it has since
the late 19th century. Jaime’s dad still farms the ground in Spokane
County where his family has been for over 100 years. Formerly a 120
sow farrow-to-finish hog operation, the feed mill still processes most of
his dryland grain to sell directly for feed locally.
Jeff’s parents grew up on dryland wheat farms in Adams County. The Sackmann homestead where Jeff’s grandfather (and his 16 siblings) grew up is still in the family, as it has been since the early 1900’s.
Jeff’s mom and Jaime’s dad showed pigs together at the Spokane Jr. Livestock Show in 4-H. Jaime’s parents and Jeff’s dad were at Washington State University together in the early 70’s, having some of the same professors in the Animal Science Department that Jeff and Jaime would have nearly 3 decades later.
In 1977, Jeff’s parents purchased the farm in Grant County where they still live and farm today. They started with a small herd of Registered Angus cows (acquired in lieu of wages from Sid’s employer). Angus bulls were marketed for a couple of years. The demands of operating an irrigated farm as a “one man show” and other market factors dictated a transition to a commercial enterprise utilizing crossbreeding with the popular continental breeds of the time. Jeff grew up working on the farm, moving handlines, operating hay equipment, and helping feed tons of cheap feeder hay and pulling big, dumb calves out of those Simmental-cross cows. He acquired a lifelong love of the cattle business.
Jaime grew up helping on the farm doing pig chores, driving wheat truck during harvest, and showing
pigs and steers in 4H/FFA. She was the ANCW National Beef Ambassador in 1996.
At WSU, we were members of the first Cougar Cattle Feeders student
cattle feeding organization. We also had the opportunity to compete
on the Livestock Judging Team, traveling to contests in Medford, Oregon;
Louisville, Kentucky; Laramie, Wyoming; and Denver, Colorado.
This exposure to a whole new world laid the groundwork for our entry
into the seedstock business and love for the Angus breed.
Our livestock judging coach, Dan Coonrad always told us “The purpose of a beef
cow is to turn a low quality forage into a high quality protein, and she needs a big
factory to make that happen.”
After our wedding in July 2000, we moved to Georgia where Jaime earned her
Master’s Degree in Animal Science with emphasis on ruminant nutrition and meat
science. We lived on a farm where Jeff worked with Angus cows, put up hay and
learned a great deal about how things are done in a very different part of the country.
When we arrived in Georgia, the southeast was in the midst of one of the worst
droughts in history. The cows were thin, and calves were born in nearly every month
of the year. Improvements were made and sub-fertile cows eliminated, and when we
left the cows had been synchronized and AI bred, with the season consolidated into a
60 day fall calving window and a 45 day spring calving window.
It all begins with a live calf. Cows must be able to travel and maintain their flesh while raising a calf and breeding back on time. They must do this in a forage grazing scenario with minimum additional inputs. Cows that fail in these areas must be eliminated from the gene pool, while those that excel are identified and propagated. We consider these traits before anything else, because without these nothing else matters.
We returned to Washington in 2002. Jaime went to work as a livestock nutritionist for
Wolfkill Feed & Fertilizer and Jeff went to work on the farm for his dad. We purchased
our first handful (two pairs and six heifers) of registered Angus females from Carl and
Norma Davey in Lind, WA. Among this first group of heifers was “120” who would go on
to become a foundation donor for us.
Over the next few years we added some more cows from consignment sales and
dispersals, growing the herd to about 30 registered cows. From the beginning, we
maintained a strict culling regimen for disposition and reproductive performance. We
found that the Davey cows rose to the top, out performing other cows with fresher
pedigrees and better numbers. Committed to building a herd that is functional, fertile and
problem-free; these early experiences helped shape our breeding philosophy.
We have a 2 stage culling process. Our cows are constantly scrutinized for: calving interval, feet/legs, udder quality, disposition, and other traits. I don’t want to keep a daughter in the herd out of any cow that is deemed undesirable for these traits. If she is capable of raising a good calf she becomes a recipient for our ET program. Cows deemed unacceptable for these traits are culled at the earliest opportunity. We don’t trim feet here, on cows or bulls.
In 2007 we became partners in the family farm business. Later that year, we found a great opportunity to expand as the Daveys were ready to cut back on their workload. They offered us the opportunity to purchase 40 cows and 23 heifers out of the heart of their cowherd. Seemingly overnight, our little Angus herd had gone from basically a hobby to a significant portion of our business, and needed to perform.
The Daveys had much success selling older (December born) bulls, so those cows were bred to calve in December and January. Our first calf that year was born about Thanksgiving, and we finished calving in early April. Something needed to change. Like I had done in Georgia, we worked to consolidate the calving into two short seasons. I decided that every cow that calved by January 15th would have the opportunity to move into the fall herd. The cows were forced to maintain a calving interval of 340-365 days to remain in the fall herd. Given one chance at AI and one cycle with the clean up bulls, (essentially a 22 day breeding season) they successfully made the move from December to September within a few years.
Not every cow is cut out for this type of selection pressure. Lots of cows fell out of the program, especially in the first few years, which made expanding the fall herd a slow process requiring patience and commitment. Big middled, broody, easy fleshing cows thrive in our environment. Tall, frail, narrow gutted, heavy milkers struggle and are quickly removed from the gene pool. Functional traits that will build better cows for my herd and those of our customers is the highest priority.
Many January and February born heifers have been bred to calve
in the fall at an early age and those that are still in the herd are
some of our better producers. "855" is an example of a cow that
rose to the top under this circumstance.
As fate would have it, this process coincided with the highest hay
market ever. Our previous practice of feeding tons of good quality
hay to the cow herd during the winter was not economically viable.
We adapted to take advantage of the abundant crop aftermath
and double-cropping situations that are available in the Columbia Basin.
To keep our cost of production in check, we now build miles of hot
wire fence and haul countless gallons of water, but feed very little hay
to the cowherd during the winter. We have never fed grain or silage
of any kind to our cows, nor have we ever creep fed our calves.
The next landmark opportunity that has shaped the history of our operation came in 2009. We had gotten to know Jeff and Pam Schmidt and their family through Jaime’s nutritionist job. (She continues to formulate rations and mineral programs for both JR Ranch and our herd). We share many philosophies and opinions on cattle breeding and management as well as life in general.
The offer was made for us to add some heifers to their fall sale, which had previously been primarily a club calf offering. We enthusiastically embraced the opportunity, and the rest is history. We are forever grateful to Jeff and Pam for giving us this opportunity, as well as the latitude to make mistakes and “learn by doing” when it comes to executing our own marketing. We now manage our own website: take all of our own pictures and videos; build our own ads; and have received many nice compliments on the catalogs we produce.
Jeff and Jeff like the same type of cattle. We have owned herd bulls and donor cows together, and are able to provide more quality in volume to our customers by working together.
We strive to produce the optimum level of weaning growth and milk that will match the environment and management scenario of commercial cattlemen in the arid west. We strive to produce bulls that will be as sound, thick, and easy fleshing as any to be found in the Northwest.
Cattle drive 1970.
From the Blue Mountains of WA & OR to the Snake River
Jaime's Great-Great Grandma
Jeff's grandfather, Reinhold, second from right, top row
Sackmann Homestead, Lind, WA (1952)
Sid, Reinhold & Jeff (1977)
Son, Father & Grandson
"Jerome" Angus Bull purchased by
Sid & Debbie in 1974/5
feed pigs (1980)
AC Jansen (Jeff's maternal Great Grandfather) harvest.
Lind, WA (~1910)
Jaime & Jeff - May 2000
Summer of 2000
We thank you for taking time to visit our website. Your time and interest are greatly appreciated!
Jeff, Jaime, Molly (11),
Trevor (7), Lila (7) & Nia (3)