Treasuring Their Traits
Ron, DyAnna and Sheldon Shaver’s registered Angus herd has its roots as Sheldon’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) when he was an FFA member at Norwood High School. “We got into that in my freshman year of high school for my FFA project. We have continued it and grown since then,” said Sheldon, who has just completed his second year at College of the Ozarks. “We started by selecting some cows out of a couple of production sales. We kept animals with traits we like.” The Shavers now run about 40 head on 84 acres in Wright County.
“Sheldon worked with his high school ag teacher, Chris Sinning. They would sit down and study pedigrees; they studied animals,” Sheldon’s mom, DyAnna explained. “With his help, Sheldon determined the best quality animals with the numbers and all the genetic background. Sheldon stayed focused on which bulls to breed each animal to and the birthing weights, the weaning weights.”
Although the cattle are Sheldon’s, he gets a lot of help from his parents, Ron and DyAnna, while he is away at school. “There’s no way we could have any of this if it weren’t for them,” he said. “I come home on weekends when I can and help out, but they do it all when I’m gone.” In addition to pursuing a degree in agribusiness and animal science, Sheldon also plays on the College basketball team. “College of the Ozarks teaches you a lot of time management skills. That’s part of it,” he explained.
Artificial insemination, synchronization, ultrasounding and record-keeping are among the time-intensive tasks that Ron and DyAnna help with. DyAnna explained some of her role on the farm: “I do whatever needs to be done at the moment. Ron and I weigh the baby calves and tag them, just whatever needs to be done.”
“There is a lot of record-keeping – birth weights, weaning weights, yearling weights. We keep track of all that, as well as herd health and vaccinations," Sheldon said.
Ron has used his background as a feed specialist with MFA to give Sheldon another perspective on herd improvement. "I’ve always believed that genetics are important, but equally important to expressing these genetics is your feeding program. That’s what I’ve tried to teach Sheldon,” Ron added.
Sheldon has specific characteristics he looks for in selecting an animal. Foremost is ‘how well they produce – if a cow is not breeding back, that’s not making any money.” He also looks at their weaning weights and yearling weights, and the feet and legs.
Ron sees the value in the farm life for the family, and for Sheldon. He said, “To me, it’s having Sheldon develop the technique of dealing with people that come here to buy these bulls. He does all the negotiation. I think that’s one of the things that I’m proud of. It’s been a fun ride.”