Answering the Demand for Lim-Flex
Gary O’Neal has always been on the cutting edge of technology. He left home after he graduated high school to attend college in Kansas City. He went to work for Systematics and traveled all over America installing banking computer systems. “I’ve installed computers as big as this house,” Gary said. He also helped install the first speaking computer that would tell customers their bank balance when they called in.
After years of working long hours on the road he returned home to the family dairy farm that was being operated by his brother, Tim. I helped him out for a few years then decided to start my own herd. He retired three years ago as Chief Operations Officer of the Arkansas Foundation of Medical Care.
“I started with crossbred cattle in 1985, but I’ve always had a Limousin bull. In 1992 I decided to get into the Limousin business. I liked the cattle, and thought that was what I wanted to do. I always wanted to sell bulls and do consignment sales. It’s been a long process and I’ve been buying cattle for a long time.” Now that Gary has established his Limousin herd he is moving into Embryonic Transfer (ET) and the Lim-Flex breed, a Limousin-Angus cross.
Gary explained a cross between a Limousin bull or cow with a purebred Angus produces a Lim-Flex calf that can be registered with NALF.
He will flush his donor Angus cow this October. You can see the difference between the two breeds, Gary said, motioning to a young Angus bull that he had just added to the herd. He pointed out the rounded rump of the Limousin as opposed to the flat angles of the Angus. Gary and Beth described the mix as getting the “best of both worlds” from the Angus and Limousin breeds.
“All my bulls are homozygous black, homozygous polled. All of my cows are not, because we can’t afford that, but I’m going that way. There is more demand for homo-black, homo-polled in the market. I do DNA testing on calves to determine homozygous trait.
Beth, who teaches art at Ozark School District, helps Gary with her careful eye for detail. “She helps out more than she knows. She notices things that most people wouldn’t. When I wean the calves, I’ve already made my cut, and then I get her to judge them. If they don’t look right or they act crazy we take them to the Ozark or County Line sale barn. I don’t register them,” said Gary.
“Temperament is very important to us, Gary looks for docility in every animal we breed,” Beth said.
“If they are not gentle they go to town, regardless of what they are. Some people talk about disposition problems, but I think it’s just the opposite,” Gary added.
“The vet says that these are the gentlest Limousins he’s ever seen,” Beth said. "I think that goes back to Gary’s breeding, and that he goes out there with them everyday. Also, they are used to strangers being around.”
Gary uses the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) website to keep up with EPDs, pedigrees and to track down new bulls. “I have all of the papers, but it’s easier to keep up with on the computer. You can search for the pedigree by knowing the name or tattoo number. I look at calving ease or low birth weights. That is one of the main things my customers look at. Then I look at weaning weight and yearling weight. And docility,” he said.
Gary stays on top of market demand by talking to other farmers and visiting sales. “I’m constantly looking for the best bull. I go to Limousin sales, not necessarily to buy, but to see what people are buying and selling. My business is trying to raise bulls for the commercial cattlemen around here,” Gary said.
“I noticed that the (calves) topping the sales were Lim-Flex. I also had several potential customers call and ask for Lim-Flex bulls. But I didn’t have any. I also have a friend that has had success with them. So I decided to go into this venture.”