Studer Shorthorns began under the watchful eye of Ben Studer, Dale’s grandfather. Now five generations later, the agricultural roots Ben placed in Iowa and in his family are still active and growing. Dale remains at the helm of the Studer Shorthorn operation providing a no-nonsense, honest approach in the seedstock and cattle industries. The focus for four generations is on cattle that will work for both commercial and seedstock producers. This focus on economic traits drives the type of cattle at the Studer operation. Dale evaluates cattle for economically important traits without compromise. This has paid off not only for the Studer operation, but more importantly for his customers.
Nothing gives Dale greater pride than knowing that his genetics are influencing the Shorthorn breed and that his breeding program is working for the purebred and commercial producer. About 130 head of Shorthorn females are maintained at the operation in the rolling hills just north of Creston. The Studer herd is known for its moderate-sized females. You would have to walk quite of few pastures at Studer’s before you see one that is not. This uniformity comes from many years of selecting females for moderate size, easy keeping and functional females. The philosophy at Studer’s is the cows need to work for the producer versus the producer working for them. This selection process is based on visual appraisal plus many years of records.
There are five major selection priorities at Studer Shorthorns including structural correctness, disposition, performance, birth weight and udder quality. Dale is the first to tell you that data is just one part of selection. “Raising females is an art, not just a science. Yes, the data is science, but we need to select cattle that are visually appealing and moderately sized and that is where the art comes into play.” By combining the major selection priorities, Studer’s have been able to raise the kind of cattle that work in the commercial herds and the purebred herds, the show ring and the pasture.
The sires performance data is an important factor in selecting a herd sire for Studer Shorthorns. National breed summary data is used and birth weight EPDs (expected progeny differences) and maternal EPDs are monitored very closely. Birth weight is a trait that has a major impact on the Studer operation as they continue to create more functional cattle for the commercial producer. Both artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer work have accelerated the rate that the Studer’s can continue their genetic improvement. Currently, about 25 percent of the herd is AI bred in addition to the replacement heifers. AI has allowed for new genetics to be introduced into the cow herd plus, it allows for the selection of the very best calving ease Shorthorn sires.
The Studer name has been linked to many popular and time-tested Shorthorn sires including Leader 21st whose grandsire Priam Royal Leader was bred by Dale’s grandfather, Ben. Studer’s Pretender, Marquis, Studer’s Prince James and Studer’s Jazz Man have all been involved in national genetic evaluation programs.
The marketing Studer Shorthorns merchandise their seedstock through private treaty sales, an annual production sale and the web. The cattle are designed to meet the criteria of diverse set of buyers. Approximately 35 bulls are sold each year with about 75 percent going to commercial operations. These young bulls are hand-fed from start to finish on a ration of roughage, corn and protein that allows the bulls to develop at the right pace for optimal breeding soundness and work readiness. Prospective buyers have a wealth of information to use in making their selection decisions. All bulls have pedigree information, full EPD information and past genetic line performance. In October, the Studer family has an annual production sale and an Online Bull Sale in February.