Lloyd Meier of rural Marion was recovering from heart surgery when he bought a registered Gelbvieh bull to use on his 30 commercial cows.
Now, 23 years later, the 61-year-old cattleman has a purebred Gelbvieh herd that he developed from that first bull.
“I thought the bull was a bit pricey but he ended up a bargain,” Meier said. “Buying him was the smartest thing I’d done in a long time, and now I just keep moving forward.”
Gelbvieh is a breed that originated in Germany. Originally a multi purpose animal, it is used mainly in beef production. The first Gelbvieh cattle were imported to the U.S. in 1971, and Gelbvieh were first shown at the National Western Livestock Show in 1977. Mature Gelbvieh cows weigh 1,500 pounds or more and are golden brown, dark brown, or black in color.
Meier buys registered stock but does not maintain papers on the animals he raises. He said Gelbvieh have a low birth rate and a high weaning rate.
“None of my calves are born weighing over 60 pounds, and they weigh 800 pounds or more when I wean them at eight months old,” he said.
He hasn’t used a calf puller for many years.
He keeps the herd small but works at making it the best it can be.
“I wanted a herd that I liked to look at, would be profitable, and could be my retirement,” he said.
He spends thousands of dollars on maintaining good genetics. Using as his source the Judd Ranch near Olathe, he purchases Gelbvieh cows and heifers from time to time and uses artificial insemination.
At the other end of the production cycle, he advertises on the Internet open heifers ready for breeding. The excellent genetics allows him to sell them at a high price. He uses a “take it or leave it” strategy: “pay the price or you don’t buy it.”
“I really don’t care,” he said. “I have plenty of hay and pasture, and I can keep them.
“They sell, they always do. I make money on the heifers, and the new buyers are as happy as punch with them — especially when they calve and see how their progeny perform.”
Meier’s son, Jon, who lives in Hillsboro and works in McPherson, markets the steers by selling them directly to fellow workers for processing.
“We market 10 to 12 head that way,” Meier said. “Our customers love the meat. We have a lot of repeat customers.”
Meier retired five years ago from a 30-year career in truck driving. He and his wife, Linda, own a 12-acre homestead east of Marion. They rent pastures in the area for wintering their cattle.
They have a garden, chickens for eggs and, of course, their own meat.
“We live small and simple,” Meier said. “It’s a satisfying life.”