N Bar Primetime D806: The optimum outcross for Ratcliff Ranch

Sometimes even the most respected Angus breeders look outside their own programs for the best results. That's exactly the case with Ratcliff Angus Ranch. The commercial and registered Angus operation based near Vinita, Oklahoma is home to such herd sires as TC Freedom 104, Riverbend Travel 434, and donor females Shady Brook Ruth 284G and Dixie Erica of RR 7530. Established in the late 1960s, the ranch was founded with the intent of selling high performing bulls, bulls that the average rancher could justify buying based on real-world cattle economics.

Through the years, Ratcliff Ranch has used AI technology, performance data, and planned matings to increase the size of its cowherd. The results have been predictable, high-performing bulls and strong, maternal females that are widely accepted by both registered and commercial producers nationwide. With a registered herd numbering 1,000 head, Ratcliff Ranch now sells 400 bulls every year. In the beginning, the Ratcliff herd was founded on many of the top performing cow families in the breed. Today, Ratcliff Ranch is the proud home of cow families that form the foundation genetics in many leading programs around the country. These days, when Ratcliff Ranch managing partner Billy Hall isn't busy with the registered side of the outfit, he's juggling the commercial operation. The ranch runs upwards of 3,000 commercial cattle in four states and is engaged in large volume commercial heifer projects.

Four years ago, Hall was looking for the missing part of that commercial puzzle. He wanted to breed the ranch's virgin commercial Angus heifers to a super-sire, one that could consistently offer it all. Hall was looking for calving ease. He was looking for outcross genetics that could offer a measure of heterosis to the Ratcliff heifers. And most importantly, he wanted those heifers to send truckload after truckload of carbon-copy beef-producing offspring to the feedlot.

Enter Sinclair Cattle Company, or more specifically, Sinclair's super-sire N Bar Primetime D806. In the last two years, Ratcliff Ranch has purchased 6,000 semen units of D806 for use in large volume commercial heifer projects.

And, as Hall details in the interview below, the results have been outstanding.

Tami Blake: Billy, tell us a bit about the ideals of the Ratcliff Ranch commercial cow/calf operation.

Billy Hall: Ratcliff Ranch has been in business for 35 years, and our commercial operation has always been totally integrated from the calf that hits the ground o the calf in the feedyard that produces the beef that eventually ends up on somebody's dinner plate. We focus on running efficient, moderate-framed Angus cows that fit their environment and can produce a calf with the ability to gain and grade, with a lot of performance and carcass quality.

Ratcliff Ranch isn't about fancy belts or hats or anything like that, just a ball cap and an old pair of tennis shoes and a bunch of baling twine and wire.

TB: What sparked your interest in using Sinclair AI sires for your volume commercial heifer projects, rather than any other bulls?

BH: First of all, I run my own bulls on my own registered cows. But I was looking for an outcross to breed to the groups of commercial heifers that we put together every year.

I first became acquainted with the Sinclair crew four years ago, and I knew right away that they were all good guys. I was first sold on their program when I went and looked at their cattle in Wyoming. I was immediately impressed with Sinclair bulls because they are made to be efficient cattle, with consistent, built-in calving ease, reduced mature size, but ample growth. In fact, their ideals are similar to the ideals of Ratcliff Ranch.

When I researched pedigrees and saw that N Bar Primetime D806 could offer outcrossed genetics to these commercial heifers of ours, I knew that was just what I was looking for. So I started using D806 as an AI sire for large volume heifer projects about four years ago. We've used over 6,00 units of D806 to breed commercial virgin Angus heifers in two year. The result has been the best calving success in volume that we've ever seen.

TB: What happens when you send those D806-sired calves to the feedlot?

BH: Every single N Bar Primetime D806-sired steer that we know of, that still had tags at the feedlot so we could identify it as from this program, has graded choice or better.

TB: And obviously the feeders notice exceptional performance from your cattle?

BH: Yes, they do. We probably feed 85 percent of our cattle in Nebraska, at Chapel Feedyard in Chapel and Dar Feedlot in Cozad. This includes D806-sired cattle from our commercial heifers, as well as calves from our registered and commercial cows sired by our own bulls. We also use satellite herds to develop embryo calves and network with bull customers each year to place 9,000 total progeny in feedlots.

What we're doing is we're working to send huge quantities of top-quality Angus beef calves down the line toward consumers every year. And that has led to some recent recognition: We were presented with the 2007 Certified Angus Beef LLC Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award at the CAB Annual Conference this September.

TB: That's proof on the wall that these outcrossed calves simply explode in the feedlot. Have you kept any replacement heifers out of D806?

BH: The oldest ones we have would be heavy-springing heifers, and they're doing an excellent job. Also, at our recent Ratcliff Ranch sale this year, we sold 250 commercial heifers carrying the service of N Bar Primetime D806, and they were in demand.

Last year, at the 20th anniversary of the Southwestern Livestock Exposition and Commercial Heifer Show and Sale in Fort Worth, we had the champion pen of cattle out of 750 cattle. Those Angus fall pairs had D806 calves on them, and they brought $4,500 a pair as commercial females.

TB: Billy, have you used any other Sinclair AI sires in your operation?

BH: Because I was so impressed with the consistent calving ease and uniformity in the calf crop out of those D806 claves, I decided to purchase 1,000 units on the 4X13 bull that was recommended for our program to breed to those D806 heifers we now have. We'll see the results this coming December. And I've found that Sinclair will treat you right every time, so I know we have good things to look forward to.

(2015 updated by Saige Albert)