Gerts Great way of life for beckmans

By Mickey Burch | Managing Editor

 

The Beckmans began their Santa Gertrudis operation in the late 1970s with the purchase of two cows and a bull. They added the cherry red cattle to their existing herd of Hereford and Charolais, and things evolved from there. “When we saw how our Gerts performed, we went to a primarily purebred herd,” Randell explains.

 

That performance was seen all the way from conception to consumption. The Beckmans keep extensive records on their cow herd and, most notably, observed heavier weaning weights with their Santa Gertrudis-sired calves. Further, they’ve done some bull testing and, as part of their former freezer beef business, feed out a lot of cattle. “We were able to see the cattle in the plant as the carcasses were being graded,” Randell recalls.

 

To produce the quality of beef their customers wanted, the goal at Beckman Farms was to breed the most function cattle with the lowest inputs possible in order to keep the product economically priced. Randell says the cost per pound of finished product with Gert genetics was lower when compared to other breeds because there was less waste – that is, less fat to trim off. “The quality of the beef was great,” he says. “Once someone tried it, we had a customer for life.” The Beckmans never advertised their freezer beef business; its popularity spread by word of mouth – a testament to the quality of beef they were producing with the help of some good Gert genetics.

 

To produce the quality of beef their customers wanted, the goal at Beckman Farms was to breed the most functional cattle with the lowest inputs possible in order to keep the product economically priced.

 

Beyond Freezer Beef Beckman Farms is located in the hill country of southern Indiana – straight west of Louisville, Ky., and a few miles north of the Ohio River. Due to the terrain, the country is well suited for livestock but not row crops. Their operation can handle anywhere from 50 to 80 brood cows, but the recent drought has forced them to cut back a bit on numbers. Since they no longer produce freezer beef, Beckman Farms sells some replacement heifers and a few bulls. “We also sell some as feeder calves,” Randell explains of the calves out of their home-raised heifers. They’re confident in their replacement heifers, he says, because they know the cow families for several generations back.

 

Somewhere along the way, one of their sons and some of their grandchildren got involved on the showing end of the cattle industry. “This definitely took our operation into a new dimension,” the couple says. While they admit the change has been both challenging and rewarding, they’re grateful for the successful days they’ve had in the show ring. These days pale in comparison, though, they say, to the time spent working, playing and traveling as a family. “Watching and helping the little ones grow up and assume their own responsibilities is, as they say, priceless,” Barbara says. All three generations of the Beckman family have good Gert friends they’ve been privileged to meet along the way. Like most family operations in their part of the country, cattle aren’t their only source of income. “Most operations around here just aren’t big enough to make an entire living at it,” Randell explains. Considering the investment required, long hours of work and sometimes uncertain returns, “it also has to be a labor of love,” they say. While there are other things they could have done with their time and available funds, the couple concludes, “It’s been a great way of life for us.”