Ray Heldermon

Claremore, Okla., Limousin breeder Ray Heldermon has been elected president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association

The man who will ride herd on the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association for the next year has found that involvement in his industry pays dividends.

“I originally joined OCA because there were a lot of cattlemen I respected who were members,” says Claremore, Okla., Limousin breeder Ray Heldermon. “Every time I went to an OCA convention, I learned something that was important to my operation back home. Pretty soon, I found out that the more involved I was, the more I learned and the more I benefitted.”

Heldermon was elected president of OCA at the organization’s recent convention. A member since 1979, he previously served two terms as president-elect. With the perspective of a lifetime in the beef business, Heldermon finds great value in his OCA participation:

“This industry has never stood still—there are always new things to find out about whether it’s management related or something to do with government policy. I like to know what’s happening in my industry and OCA has been a great way to do that.”

The relationship, Heldermon acknowledges, is a two-way street with the organization gaining strength from members just as members benefit from the affiliation.

“For the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association to be effective, it takes involvement from beef producers,” he says. “We have achieved a lot and this organization works for cattlemen every day but we need members to make it even stronger—and there are so many benefits. The legislative part alone is worth far more than the cost of membership.”

These days, the beef business is a multi-faceted industry and Heldermon knows that not all of its participants agree on all issues. That, he says, doesn’t diminish the need for the producer organization but, rather, increases it.

“From my experience, it’s important to listen to all sides of an issue, to hear different points of view,” Heldermon explains. “OCA is the place to go to express your point of view. We listen to all sides and then we vote to come up with the best policy for Oklahoma cattlemen.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that Oklahoma cattlemen share a lot of common ground regardless of where they’re from or the segment of the industry they’re in. We may disagree on this or that but we stand together on most issues and that’s important. We can’t achieve anything being splintered.

“If we’re going to preserve and promote the beef industry in Oklahoma we have to do it ourselves because nobody else will do it for us.”

Heldermon grew up on a ranch near Hinton, Okla., but moved with his family to Rogers County while still in school. After graduating from Chelsea High School, he attended Oklahoma State University where he was a member of the livestock judging team and received a degree in animal science.

Following graduation he was a herdsman for Dr. Bob Totusek and the OSU Range research herd, conducting nutritional research and artificial insemination.

In 1973, Heldermon and his wife, Donna, moved to the Joplin, Mo., area to manage a Polled Hereford operation and, later, a Limousin ranch.

In 1976, the Heldermons, with son, Coy, moved back home to the Claremore area and began using Limousin bulls on an Angus cowherd to develop the purebred black Limousin operation the Heldermons run today.

“I had always thought Limousin bulls would cross well on Angus cows so, since I had a lot of AI experience, we used the best bulls we could find and began moving in that direction,” he explains.

Today, using homozygous black sires, virtually all of the bulls produced at Heldermon Limousin are black. The focus, however, is on developing the commercially important traits Heldermon’s commercial cowmen want.

“We certainly pay attention to type but our repeat customers really appreciate growth and disposition so that’s critical for us.” he says.

For the past several years, Heldermon has sold most of his bulls through a sale held in conjunction with Lamborn Limousin at Mounds, Okla., on the first Saturday in May.

He also markets a good number of females, predominantly fall pairs and bred heifers. At the 2006 production sale, Heldermon cattle went to nine states.

Beef industry involvement hasn’t been limited to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. Heldermon has also served as president of the Oklahoma Limousin Breeder’s Association, director of the North American Limousin Foundation and president of Oklahoma Beef Inc.

In addition to raising Limousin cattle, the Heldermons have a band a Quarter Horse broodmares and produce ranch horses.

For more information on the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, call 405-235-4391 or log onto www.okcattlemen.org.

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