Passionate About Brangus® And Raising The Best
By Martha Hollida Garrett
It began as a family venture and as a means for the family to go places together and have more reasons to spend time together. Brangus® cattle provided the means and have now accomplished all of that for the Miller family. In the process, Miller Brangus has become one of the breed's top programs and home to some of the best genetics.
Miller Brangus is owned by E.D. Miller, along with sons Doyle and Bert, and is located in lower middle Tennessee just east of Waynesboro. The program was initially started in 1981, as E.D. purchased his first registered Brangus bull and 25 commercial Brangus heifers. Although not the most popular breed of choice in Middle Tennessee at that time, Mr. Miller decided upon Brangus due to milk value, calving ease, heat and parasite tolerance, ample growth and the ability to thrive on fescue. His insight into this practical breed set in motion a program that was destined to become one of the premier in the entire breed.
In 1982, E.D. added seven registered Brangus heifers from Tennessee breeder, Robert Duncan and in 1985 eight more heifers were purchased from Duncan. During this time Doyle, who is a certified public accountant in Nashville, became involved in the program. Between 1982 and 1998 E.D. and Doyle bought additional registered females from various consignment sales, but primarily through Coldwater Cattle Co. By the end of 1998, the registered herd had grown to 70 head through natural herd growth and purchased females.
“In 1998, Doyle started talking to me about joining them and being part of the growing Brangus program. He said it would give us a reason to get together and give us places to go together,” recalls Bert
Bert liked the idea and decided to join his dad and brother. In addition to the ownership expanding, the trio decided to expand their program in terms of number and raise the level of quality. Bert, who resides in Memphis and is in real estate, suggested they find someone to direct their efforts, guide them in their purchases and mating decisions.
“We asked Tracy Holbert to come to the farm in early 1999. My dad had maintained strong health, management practices, and rotational grazing, but we realized we needed to take our program to a higher level from a quality and genetic point of view. Within three years we had culled over 75% of the original herd. Tracy was and has been to this day, invaluable to us,” recalls Bert.
They began a more intensive objective measurement program that included stronger records, stricter culling standards, along with carcass measurement identification using ultrasound technology. The Millers also began a complete herd AI program and made one of their most important steps still to date when they decided to put together the very best herd sire battery in the breed.
Today they have an impressive herd of 260 registered females along with 45 commercial Brangus cows that are used as recips. “Dad does all the day to day management of the herd. He is 77-years-old and just goes and goes. Plus we are fortunate to have Bart Pope as part of our operation. Bart actually began working for us as a young teenager. He went to college and came back on the weekends, then he joined us fulltime after graduating with a degree in animal science. He became really interested in reproduction and he does all our AI breeding and now actually does our on the farm embryo transfers. Bart is instrumental to our program,” says Doyle.
Today, Miller Brangus is flushing about 15 females at various times, including MB Ms Natural 99K, MC Ms News Man 165K, and MB Ms John Wayne 99P4. They have made select purchases since 1999 from Mound Creek Ranch, Coldwater, and Camp Cooley. They purchased the entire Bold Star herd in 2004 which really added to their number and moved them out of the building phase and into the arena of being a genetic provider. “If you take weights, keep records, ultrasound, AI and concentrate on quality genetics you can push a program up the ladder and I’m very happy with what we have been able to do with Tracy’s help, and also by aligning ourselves with Mound Creek’s cooperator program,” explains Bert. The Millers initially made purchases from Mound Creek, but quickly realized the Mound Creek program offered additional services for them in terms of genetics and marketing. In addition, they like the family atmosphere among the Mound Creek cooperators and the willingness that each one has to share information and help each other.
“By aligning yourself with a program, you can pool resources and learn from others. Doyle and I are both in professional fields and we feel it is important to have professionals involved in our Brangus program. Eddie and Tracy have provided knowledge, expertise and marketing experience that we just don’t have. Tracy has made all our purchases and all our mating decisions. We don’t have the time it takes to market at the level necessary for our program and we have been very pleased at the interest that has been generated in our program. The prices our cattle have commanded at the Mound Creek events have been very strong. In 2000, we sold our bulls with Mound Creek and received an average price of $2,300. In October 2005, we sold 54 bulls in the sale and averaged over $5,100. Then in May of this year we sold 23 females and half interest in our herd sire, John Wayne and grossed $240,000. This type of recognition and revenue would not be possible for us to generate on our own,” describes Doyle. The Millers and Mound Creek purchased the sire John Wayne as a yearling from Jack Moore in Vern Suhn's Bull Sale and both programs have used him very heavily. They still retain a breeding interest in him and have several of his sons for AI and natural service sires. “We think John Wayne, who ranks on four trait leader lists and is the only proven bull in the sire summary to rank in the top 10 for REAand top 15 for IMF is the best breeding bull the Brangus breed has ever seen,” stresses Bert.
In addition to John Wayne, they are also AI’ing to News Man, New Direction, John Wayne 661N13, John Wayne 165N3, Lead Gun, Mound Creek’s Cool Hand 52M6, and Nimitz. They maintain strict spring and fall calving seasons of 60 days for the mature cows and 75 days for heifers. Disposition is one area they cull for regardless. In this area, Angus breeders have talked a lot about disposition and we invite anyone to come walk through our cows. All of our cows are calm, easy going and easy to work. We do not tolerate bad dispositions,” explains Bert. They have hosted a local field day to acquaint people with their program and have developed some local trade for their bulls not sent to Mound Creek.
The Millers are also initiating a “New Genetics” herd, to develop new Brangus bloodlines by using Brahman genetics from V8 Ranch, J.D. Hudgins and Mike Partin and Angus lines primarily from Connealy Angus, Schaff Angus, and Bon View. “We like the challenge this presents and again Tracy and Eddie have helped us immensely. We’re excited about the prospects of this in the future,” he says.
Another challenge they face is getting folks in their area, Tennessee and northern Alabama to realize how valuable the Brangus female is and what she brings to the table in terms of maternal traits, pounds and hardiness. It’s a message they deliver over and over and document every time they show their cow herd to folks. “There are no shortcuts with genetics and you must breed them properly to succeed. You also need reliable, honest records and you must stand behind your product. For people just getting started, you need to have relationships with people who have expertise and sound advice,” stresses Bert.
For the Millers, they are charging ahead full speed into the future with the foundation built on quality. “I never dreamed I would make so many good friends when I decided to join Dad and Doyle. I thought I was just going to strengthen our family relationship, but it has done that and provided so many other positive things,” says Bert.
Design by CervantesDesign.com