Advancing the Family Cattle Business
Lifelong resident of Webster County, Aaron Day can’t remember ‘not’ having cattle. His dad, Jim Day, gave him his first show heifer when he was nine years old. “It was a deal. I did the work and I only had to pay for half of her. It instilled the facts that I needed to take care of her. I had an investment in her myself, so it meant something to me. That got me started with cattle. I’ve shown cattle since I was nine.”
Cattle are a family business for the Days. The family consists of Jim and Alice Day and their sons and daughters-in-law, Aaron and his wife Angie, and Jeremy and Joni. Aaron is more in the forefront of the farming business, but they all have a hand in it.
The family also owns and operates another business; Day’s Funeral Home in Marshfield, Mo. Aaron pitches in at the funeral home, but is employed at Liberty Bank in Marshfield as a loan officer, and he handles home mortgages.
A very busy man, Aaron finds time for 110 registered Angus cows and 35 commercial cows. “Those are the cows we use for embryology. We take eggs out of the good (registered) cows, and put in them and they’re like the surrogate mothers. We set these 35 cows up and implant them to have what they call ET (Embryo Transfer) babies.”
Embryo transfer is not new on the Day farm. They started using the process on a limited basis when they had Brangus cattle. “We got into the Angus cattle in 2001, and that’s when we started doing more embryonic transfers.”
Last August “we had our first production sale at the farm. We had 45 to 50 lots. I’d say 10 to 15 lots were embryo heifers that were out of these surrogate mothers.” All the Embryo Transfer babies are registered Angus. The surrogate cows are “black white-face, red white-face, or reds.”
This process can be expensive. “But,” Aaron said, “if you’ve got a really good cow and you can flush her and she produces 10 eggs, than you can put 5 embryos in those cows and you could get 2 or 3 heifers out of her. It’s better than just getting one calf out of her every year. You get 3 or 4 calves out of her, for marketing purposes. You’re getting more quantity out of her.” Instead of a great cow having one calf per year, she could have 3 or 4, or 10 or 15, depending on how well she produces eggs.
The Day family owns 140 acres and rents another 375 acres. They buy all their hay locally. Aaron estimates they buy 500 big round bales per year.
Aaron prefers artificial insemination for the cattle and does all the AI work. When he was 14, Aaron went to school in Springfield, Mo., to learn to do AI.
About the cattle business, Aaron said, “You have to have a good work ethic, because you have to put in some heart and soul. It’s not something that you’re going to put in money right away and get something right back out of it, because it takes time. I think it’s excellent for young kids to be involved in agriculture, especially like showing cattle. It teaches responsibility, leadership, and gives them opportunities to go out and talk to people.
Even though Angus are easy-calvers, Aaron admits he still worries. “My dad is always on me because I get a little fidgety. When you have those first-calf heifers calving, I always want to get them up and really watch them.”
While his herd is growing, so is his family. Aaron and Angie are expecting their first baby in March. That is one of the reasons there won’t be a production sale at the Day farm this year. Smiling, Aaron said, “We’re going to skip a year because there’s a lot going on, with the new baby.”