“That’s the way I like to sell bulls,” could be heard as the gate slammed shut on one trailer, and the next truck and trailer pulled in. It was a good sale day for Keith Cagle of Rose Bud Feeders, LLC, that cool Saturday morning in late March, “$65,000 worth of bulls in just a couple of hours from a couple of different operations.”
Keith Cagle and partner Henry Caldwell have developed Rose Bud Feeders located just outside of Rose Bud, Ark., into an overnight success in just under 15 years. From the days of developing bulls for Henry’s operation to today where data is collected on bulls shipped in from across the Southern U.S., Rose Bud Feeders has created quite a program for the serious producer looking to enhance or upgrade his sire genetics.
“I worked for Cow Creek Ranch for 10 years helping to develop the bulls they were selling across the Southeast. I started selling some bulls private treaty for them and it started working from there.” Keith stated that Rose Bud Feeders philosophy of developing is quite simple, “We grow them out on a silage ration that helps the bulls to develop a full gut that won’t get them overly fat. Our ration is silage, but the bulls are raised on a forage base. Producers really like that the bulls don’t melt down when they turn them out back home. We have big pastures with shade on one end and water on the other. It makes those bulls walk these hills and work and that helps us really develop them out.” Data is collected on the growing bulls from the first day they hit the ground at the working chutes. Weights, measures and even ultrasound data is part of the daily chores at Rose Bud Feeders.
The day-to-day operations are run by Keith, wife Ginger Cagle and their two daughters Karley and Anna Grace Cagle, so safety and ease of handling are important factors for them, “We do everything we can to keep them gentle. We ride horseback through the pens every day and work the bulls in a very low stress environment. If the producer sells the bulls or we sell them for the producer, either way you’ve got to have a gentle bull.” The low-stress handling really pays off for the producer in both docility and gain, “We can hit 3-pound per day rates with a good ration and giving the bull what it needs to grow.”
Ginger commented that the family run operation is a “many hands make the work light” style of operation, “We homeschool our daughters, so it gives us a broader classroom experience. The girls turn in high testing scores in areas such as critical thinking.” Keith also believes the family work can help advance his daughters, “An agriculture background is good to raise kids in. You’ve got the family and growing together that makes them strong.” And the deep roots show through the young ladies as well. When asked about her future plans,
Karley commented, “I think I’d like to do mission work in other countries using my ag background. India or Mexico maybe. I’d like to study a foreign language and help others.”
Growth is what Rose Bud Feeders is about. “About three and a half years ago Southern Cattle Company bought out Cow Creek Ranch. One of the biggest reasons, I think, was to get this bull test station. We have moved to a point that last year Southern Cattle didn’t have a bull sale. We sold everything private treaty,” stated Keith. “Southern started in with Angus and Charolais and that made us multi-breed here. Now we have various different breeds from some of the top names in their respective breeds.
“We want a producer to be able to get top genetics and not have to travel long distances to get those genetics,” stated Keith. With breeders such as Southern Cattle Company of Florida, The Oaks Farms of Georgia and recently added 44 Farms of Texas, Rose Bud Feeders has become a one-stop-shop for your bull needs. Keith and crew not only provide many of the bulls most producers are looking for, but they also help with advice for the commercial cattleman, “A lot of producer buyers ask for help in selecting bulls. We’ll go out and look at their cow herd and help them evaluate what they might need for their operation.”
On that cold day in late March, Rob Weil of Boswell, Okla., pulled his trailer in to Rose Bud Feeders for a set of bulls, “I found Keith through Southern Cattle Company and Cow Creek Ranch on the Internet. I’m able to call him up and tell him what I want and he always gives me a good selection to choose from. They are always gentle and easy to handle. We use them on our closed cow herd to add what we need. I can tell him if I need extra milk in the replacements and he finds some bulls to help me.” Keith replied, “Rob has been buying from me for about the last 5 years. He’s a good customer and seems to like the bulls we help provide.”
That repeat business is just what Keith builds the Rose Bud Feeders program on, “We have developed those relationships over the years and that gives us return buyers. Whether you’re feeding bulls with me or buying bulls from me, yes is yes and no is no. If I see something wrong and you need to know something about it, I’ll tell you about it. That’s what we teach our girls. Honesty is something we emphasize to them. Put God first, everything else will work.” And for Keith Cagle and Rose Bud Feeders, it has worked.
Written by Marcus Creasy
Reprinted from Ozark Farm & Neighbor with permission from Marcus Creasy.