50 Year History of Bieber Red Angus
By: Ron Bieber
In July of 1961, my brother Leroy Bieber and I, were -looking for a place to produce good beef cattle, purchased Julius Binder’s and Frank Sieh’s properties amounting to 2300 acres. In September of that year, I was called in to the army because of the Cuban missile crisis and while serving for ten months Leroy and I purchased some available land from Jacob Jakober. This expanded the operation to 3600 acres. In the spring of 1962, we began tagging all cows and calves and started keeping weaning weight records. At that time, we were calving mostly Hereford cows bred to Hereford bulls. We also had a group of baldy calves that produced 60 pounds more than the Herefords. In 1964, Leroy and I split up our operations and Leroy purchased a farm stead 3 miles west of our operation. In the late winter Lois and I purchased our first Shorthorn bull from Fred Kiesz.
March of 1966 brought a tremendous blizzard our way. By the time we got out to find the cattle, some were four feet below the snow and still alive. We pulled them out and rolled them on to a toboggan and pulled them home. We lost 30 Hereford cows, but were able to buy 35 shorthorn cows later that spring that were bred to a polled Hereford bull. This led to progress in converting our entire cow herd to crossbred cattle. Soon we realized that a systematic crossbreeding would result in superior weights, we went from 380 to 560 pounds in a period of ten years. Crossbred cows eliminated pinkeye, cancer eye, prolaspe and we consistently had better breed back.
In September of 1967, I decided that we would take a working vacation and go to Montana to search for the next cross on our cow heard. Our first stop was at Miles City to have a look at the USDA cattle research station where an acquaintance had success using Line 1 Herefords. Next we took in the Montana Hereford tour looking at numerous herds and meeting with lots of Hereford breeders. When I said we were considering using Red Angus, one of the Hereford breeders from western North Dakota said, “Red Angus are like women’s hats—here today, gone tomorrow.” Twenty years later he started using Red Angus and no longer produces Herefords.
In October of 1968, I saw an ad in the Western Livestock Reporter for the sale of 50 registered Red Angus cows in May, Idaho. When I arrived, Gene Cook took me around for a tour of his Red Angus herd. I selected 14 cows which Gene had transported by a pot that was filled with feeder cattle headed to our area. The cows arrived in early December and we were officially a Red Angus Seedstock herd.
April of 1969 brought an opportunity to take a trip to Montana. Ora Erdmann from Erdmann Angus had sent ten bulls to northwest Montana, to the Stanford Bull Test Station. The test had 300 or more, Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn and Red Angus bulls as I remember. Early one morning I fed the cattle and tagged new calves. I finished seeding the field east of the house. Ora Erdmann showed up just before noon and with him was Dr. Harlan Ritchie, Animal Science professor from Michigan State University. I loaded my bag in the single cab 2 ton truck and off we went to Montana, three men, luggage and lots of BS. The major conversation topics were cattle, and genetics. It didn’t take many miles down the road and we were engaged in an intense conversation concerning cattle breeding. Harlan said after he found out we were using a good shorthorn bull that there was a breeder in Michigan he knew, who was interested in the large framed Shorthorn bull like we had. It turn out he was not coming back with Ora and myself so an opportunity to sell a high dollar herd sire was missed. Harlan is a very astute observer of animal breeding and has been known for years as a leading authority on cattle breeding. Ora Erdmann was in his 60’s and a keen observer of cattle and a self taught cattle breeder. His famous one liner was “I don’t want Shetland pony Angus.”
In late 60’s beef cattle were changing rapidly. Suddenly performance records became important and many cattlemen were looking for larger framed cattle. The pursuit of more frame and the introduction of continental breeds, was recognized by keen observers of cattle breeding, like Harlan Ritchie, realized frame could be detrimental to profitable beef production. That trip to Montana, enlightened me, and gave us contact with many leading cattle breeders in the beef industry.
In September of 1969, R.C. Buckner of Tyler, Texas was having a Red Angus dispersion sale. Albert Erdmann and I made the trip in a two ton truck to watch Buckner sell of 750 head of cattle. When we left, we ended up filling the truck with 20 head. After that, every chance we had we acquired more Red Angus cows and heifers. Soon our herd numbered 250 breeding females. In the fall of 1975, we sold our cross bred herd to Henderson Ranch of Lodgepole, South Dakota.
In 1975 we also had difficulty selling bulls, so we made the decision to have a production sale and in May we moved enough soil to form a level spot to put up an insulated Morton building. In those early years we provided birth weight, weaning weight, and weaning weight and gain from weaning to yearling at each sale. Now we provide 12 EPDs and nine weights and measurements.
In the spring of 1983 we purchased the west ranch from Harold Geffre. In the spring of 1988 we were able to purchase 800 acres from the Morrison Brothers, which was land that ran along the west side of our property.
Then in the winter of 1989 we were offered the Jonathan Brenise place which was 480 acres. We presently have enough land to run 800 cows.