Chalk it up to the exuberance of youth or just plain old business sense, but Bryant Gutsch of Lincolnville is looking to expand his herd of beef cows despite lower beef prices. He has 125 head and would like to expand to 200.
“I’m going for it,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll try something else.”
The 28-year-old rancher graduated from Centre in 2006 and received a degree in agricultural economics with a minor in accounting from Kansas State University.
He has a strong work ethic. He roofed with Victor Burns while in high school and worked his way through college, finishing with a $3,000 debt that he paid off immediately.
Gutsch was a sophomore in college when he decided he wanted to come back to the farm. He had held jobs as a bank teller and an intern in an ag financial firm and had realized that wasn’t the life for him.
“There’s no way I could sit inside for eight hours a day,” he said.
He also was concerned that the farm would stay in the family.
His father helped him purchase a semi-load of feeder calves in each of the next two years.
He decided he wanted to start a cowherd after graduating from college. His father and grandfather had been cow-calf producers before they switched to backgrounding feeder calves.
Gutsch believes a cowherd produces a steadier income and utilizes pastures better than feeder calves.
He used the money he made feeding calves as a down payment on 60 cows. The timing was perfect.
“Cows were cheap right then,” he said. “I was able to buy 1,300-pound bred Angus cows for $1,100 a head.”
The market started going up, and he made enough profit to pay off most of the debt. He used a beginning farmer’s loan to buy a quarter of grass and acquired another 600 rented acres as he expanded his cow numbers.
The cows winter on a 100-acre pasture at his grandpa John Gutsch’s farm eight miles southeast of Lincolnville. Calves have access to creep feeders that provide a mixture of rolled grains.
Cows calve in fall, starting Sept. 1. At weaning time, they are pregnancy-checked before being turned out on summer pasture. Calves are conditioned in a lot and sold as 750-to-800-pound feeders.
In lieu of keeping back replacement heifers, Gutsch buys second-calf heifers to replace cows that are culled from the herd.
“I don’t want to worry about heifers calving for the first time,” he said.
He helps his father and grandfather with fieldwork and putting up hay. They raise corn for silage and add ground-up hay and dried distiller’s grain.
He said when he first came back, he thought he knew everything and didn’t need any advice from his elders, but now he realizes that maybe he should listen to them when they provide counsel.
“I’ve learned that you have to look at it in a five-year window,” he said. “Then you can look back and see if you are being successful or need to go in a different direction.
“I like the progress of things on the farm. It’s not a cookie-cutter job. There’s always something different to do. When push comes to shove, I’d rather handle cattle than work with crops.”
Gutsch works as a referee during basketball season.
He and his wife, the former Emmali Kelsey of Marion, live in Lincolnville. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Brooklyn.