CARRUTHERS FAMILY ARCHIVE
In order to diversify use of ranch resources
and add revenue, while maintaining
fl exibility, Troy and Brandi Carruthers
have offered custom-calving services
and custom-grazing of outside cattle.
built, Carruthers’ heifers typically sell
to AI customers. So familiar is he with
these customers’ operations and their
goals, Troy sources heifer calves with
their needs in mind. He’s always on
the lookout for a single source, but
even when buying heifers from multiple
herds, he’s focused on quality
in a certain ‘kind’ of female. He’s less
concerned with specifi c breeds than
biological type. He prefers moderately
framed, structurally sound females
that are most apt to be functional in
a grass-based production system.
Accordingly, the Carruthers’ heifer
development system might best be
categorized as ‘extensive’. Rather
than feeding total mixed rations
in drylot, the heifers graze on grass
and cornstalks, according to the season,
with just enough supplemental
feed to make sure their nutritional
requirements are met. In short, heifers
are developed on a diet consisting
primarily of the kinds of grazed
forages they will receive as mature
cows. Some attrition is expected, but
Troy fi gures females that fail to breed
without being “propped up” weren’t
meant to be brood cows.
Heifers do get two chances to
conceive to AI. According to Troy, 30
days after estrus-synchronized heifers
are fi rst inseminated, pregnancy diagnosis
is performed and heifers found
open are inseminated again. By marketing
time, Carruthers’ heifers have been
exposed to a variety of management
tools and techniques, including electric
fence and frequent, low-stress handling
using horses, dogs, UTVs and kids. Bad
actors will have been weeded out.
Thus far, all bred heifers have
been marketed at private treaty.
Advertisement is by word-of-mouth
and posts to Facebook. Shifting emphasis
to growing and selling bred females
is paying off as Carruthers’ heifers
become increasingly sought-after.
Recently, producers impressed by the
development program have asked if
Troy and Brandi would accept heifers
to develop and breed on a custom basis.
“We’re in the process of rebuilding
our facilities so we can do that.
It’s another opportunity,” says Troy,
noting that, starting this year, custom
grazing has also been added as
a relatively low-risk enterprise that
adds a revenue stream while lending
the fl exibility to match stocking rates
to forage availability.
WHEN THE PIECES FIT
Neither Brandi nor Troy believe
that chance or coincidence have
anything to do with the opportunities
they have embraced during the
course of their ranching evolution.
People of strong faith, they are certain
that God has been leading them.
The pieces have fi t together too well
to think otherwise.
“I don’t really know what God has
in mind for our future, but I suspect it
will grow out of what we’re doing with
heifer development. We do that fairly
well and we’ll keep trying to get better,”
states Troy, adding that he and Brandi
are working at being better managers
of ranch resources and their business.
“We’re trying to step up our grazing
management, pushing for better soil
health, which should increase forage
plant production and the resilience of
our grassland. Long-term, we should
be able to increase the ranch’s carrying
capacity and increase animal
JUNE / JULY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 63