Farm Talk


November 7, 2011

Developing bulls for purebred producers of all sizes

Parsons, Kansas — Beginning with a dream of working with higher quality, lower risk cattle compelled Andrew Sylvester to start a bull development service different then most.

Since 2004, Sylvester Bull Development in Wamego, Kansas, has specialized in developing bulls based on individual producers needs. Partners Sylvester and Brian Hagedorn focus their operation on aiding purebred producers of all sizes to develop and market their bulls more efficiently then they can personally.

“It is not that producers can’t develop their own bulls,” Sylvester says. “We know producers have limited resources to develop bulls properly to where they need to be at the point of breeding and we can take the time to develop the bulls according to the producers’ needs using quality feedstuffs.”

Originally, when Sylvester and Hagedorn began their operation, they relied on funding from running a silage truck during harvest to keep the bull development going.

“When we first started we bought a silage truck,” Sylvester explains. “We lease this property from a custom harvester and running a silage truck was one of the ways we funded our feedyard. We still have and use the truck today however, neither Brian or myself get to drive it anymore.”

Being raised on a diversified family farm outside of Wamego, Kan. Sylvester is no stranger to the cattle industry.

“My family would buy high risk cattle and straighten them out or finish them out,” Sylvester says. “I have always enjoyed working with cattle and have always wanted to work with higher quality cattle then I did growing up. While in college I saw an opportunity and a need for bull development services for purebred producers of all sizes.”

In addition to his family background, Sylvester also was a member of the livestock judging team in junior college and then later joined the livestock judging team at Kansas State University. At K-State he made many contacts in the beef industry including their first customer the Gold Bullion Group. After seeing the bulls from this group of breeders, he talked to them about him developing their bulls in the future.

“I became pretty good at livestock judging and picking out cattle,” Sylvester adds. “With my background in raising cattle I saw an opportunity to develop bulls for cattle producers who would not have the time, space or be able to feedout a bull as efficiently as I could.”

Teaming up with Hagedorn who had experience working in a small commercial feedyard for five years, Sylvester Bull Development was born.

Leasing a small feedyard, which had been vacant for six years, Sylvester and Hagedorn signed a long-term lease, from a custom harvester. Today, they develop approximately 1,000 spring and fall bulls each year for close to 30 producers.

“We mainly serve local producers,” Hagedorn says. “But we also have producers from across the country who utilize our services. Our goal, is when the bulls leave our facilities they are ready for to go home and breed—we develop each bull based on each individual producers’ needs.”

“We put our heart and souls into developing our producers’ bulls,” Sylvester adds. “Under our supervision the bulls are developed slowly to reach the optimum amount of condition for each producers’ needs. Our program is designed to use only high quality feedstuffs allowing the bulls to develop properly for maximum performance but still be functional natural sires. We are passionate about what we do and want to help our customers reach their goals.”

Able to store about a year’s worth of feedstuffs at a time, Hagedorn and Sylvester are able to capitalize on market extremes to purchase high quality feedstuffs at a desired price to maintain development at a low cost, efficient price for the producers.

“We pride ourselves on providing quality care to the bulls and using only high quality feedstuff to develop them, “ Sylvester adds. “It is important for these bulls to receive quality care for them to leave here and be able to perform as a natural sire. We want the bulls to be ready for breeding when they leave.”

Every producer who uses their service is asked specific questions about their operation and the purpose each bull will serve.

“We ask each producer a series of questions which will indicate to us on how to develop each bull,” Hagedorn explains. “While we do have a list of questions for each producer, we mainly need to know: what is the starting weight, what is the desired finishing weight and how hard do you want the bull pushed to their ideal condition.”

While under the care of Sylvester Bull Development, Hagedorn collects data on each bull, assists with evaluating temperament and reaching producers needs in marketing their bulls.

“We run an average daily gain on each bull,” Hagedorn adds. “We will also ultrasound each bull, help with temperament by walking through each pen to help make the bulls easier to handle, provide all data for the bulls on feed, heath records and data on all the bulls and also assist with marketing the bulls through sale photography, sale catalogs and even a sale facility. Also we host an open house, typically the last Saturday in February where producers can invite their customers to see, not only their product, but also approximately 30 other producers’ product.”

In addition to developing bulls, Sylvester and Hagedorn also have their own cow herd, finish steers and background cattle as well.

“Just like any other feedyard, we like to keep the yards full,” Sylvester explains. “We will finish out approximately 150 to 200 steers each year. We own approximately 50 cows and will background cattle as well. This year we have had an increase in taking in cattle to maintain—with many producers in the south suffering from no pasture or very limited pasture. We have about 300 cows we have taken in to graze our corn stocks and the additional pasture ground we lease.”

As their business continues to mature, Hagedorn and Sylvester continue to look to the future.

“We are very honored to work with each one of our producers,” Sylvester says. “It is a joy for us to work with their cattle and help them meet their needs.”

For more information about Sylvester Bull Development go to bulldeveloper. com.

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