Managing our herd for practical performance

A beef cattle legacy built for the future

Great-granddad Jacob ZumBrunnen first homesteaded the ranch in 1888. After working as a professional structural engineer around the country, Mel and Lola bought in, moved permanently to the ranch in 1975 to raise their family and continue building the registered Angus herd that was started in 1948. Jason and Shirley returned to the ranch with their young family in 2012, after a successful engineering career, to partner in managing the family beef cattle business and to continue the ranch legacy for the next generation. We’re clearly in it for the long haul.

At birth, our calves are tagged and weighed so we can maintain accurate records. We band any calves not being kept for bulls. All newborns receive a 7-way vaccine.

At branding time, calves get a 7-way booster, a BRD/BVD modified live virus (Bova shield 5), a ruminant stimulant (Probios). At this time we make our second cut on bulls, banding any that do not pass our pasture evaluations.

30 days pre-weaning, all calves receive another 7-way booster, BRD/BVD modified live virus, pasturella, and a preventative treatment for internal and external parasites.

At weaning we weigh each calf individually and give a booster BRD/BVD modified live virus. We do a 3rd round of sorting and banding of bulls based on further pasture evaluations.


Bulls remaining after our 3rd cut go on grow ration at home. We have upsized out bull lot to give them more room to roam and feed Accra-Ration and free choice grass hay.

Heifers remaining after a bottom-end (approx. 20%) cull sort are wintered at the feedlot starting sometime in January. Heifers are Bangs vaccinated and given Bangs RFID tags before they reach a year old. Heifers have been gaining at about $0.50/# and around 3#/day at the lot. They are on a ration expected to gain only around 2#/day.

Most steers are fed out to fats. We collect the feed efficiency and carcass data on them to measure our performance. We use this data to select AI bulls to increase premiums on carcasses and reduce feed costs in the lot and in the pasture.


Bulls are ultra-sounded for carcass data, semen tested, and weighed. They are also vaccinated twice for warts and foot rot.

Heifers are ultra-sounded for carcass, given a preg guard with MLV (preg guard 10), given a preventative for parasites and turned out to pasture.

All heifers will be bred AI this year around 5/15. The heifers will have clean up bulls turned in after AI breeding. Bulls will only run with the heifers for 60 days. We ultrasound and keep only the early calving heifers.


Year-around — Receive mineral free-choice

Branding time — Treated with external/internal parasite preventative, plus Bovi-shield FB 5 LHP vaccine (preg guard)

Breeding — We will AI about one half of the registered cows starting 5/20, with a second set the following week and embryo implants a little later. Bulls turned in about a week later. Bulls are left in with cows approximately 45-50 days to sort out low-fertility cows (we want to calve at the latest in the 3rd cycle. If they can't do that, we don't need them.

Weaning time — Cows are treated with fly spray

Pregnancy check — We use ultra-sound for pregnancy testing every year and sort to calve based on that information. We also treat for internal/external parasites at this time.

The cows winter on a mix of alfalfa, grass and small grain balage, receiving an average of approximately 15-20 lbs./day of dry matter, and they hunt for the rest. Our cows consistently score 5 to 6 BCS (body condition score) through the winter and calving season. Research indicates you will have healthier calves throughout their life if the cows maintain BCS 5-6 through pregnancy.

Bull Selection for AI and Natural Service

Our current selection criteria:

  • Good feet and legs
  • Good maternal qualities, good lineage, moderate milk, and size
  • Feed efficiency — untapped dollars that can add to the bottom line as a feeder and share to the cow calf producer
  • Carcass qualities that add premiums at the end of the line thereby increasing opportunities throughout the chain of purchasing