Cason's Pride and Joy
One of nine children on a dairy farm, Cason grew up near Ottumwa, and fell in love with the Simmental breed in high school. He built his own herd through artificial insemination on the farm in Monroe County.
As a 3-term member of the Iowa Simmental Board and president of the Hawkeye Simmental Group for 19 years, Cason has been active in industry groups promoting the Simmental breed. Each year, he consigns two of his best bulls at the Iowa Beef Expo, and takes part in the Hawkeye Simmental Sale, which takes place twice a year. This fall will be his 71st consecutive Hawkeye Simmental Sale.
Cason also values his private treaty sales. Although 90% of his seedstock are marketed through production sales, he says, “I enjoy private treaty sales the most because you get to spend more time with your customers and find out more of what they truly need for seed stock.”
In 2014, the Casons began holding an annual bull sale in March at the Russell Livestock Market.
The farm consists of approximately 160 cows, 50 of which calve in the fall. The Casons market approximately 50 bulls each year, with 10% sold to other purebred breeders and the remaining 90% going to commercial herds. Prospective buyers are provided with actual birth weight, adjusted weaning and yearling weights, along with the most current EPD’s.
Cason is a firm believer in the value of EPD’s when selecting a herd sire. “Individual performance is subjective to management and environment conditions,” he says, “so I consider performance records but rely more on EPD’s and accuracy of EPD’s.” The use of EPD’s over the years has improved birth weight and vigor of the calves at birth, and decreased calving difficulty within the herd.
Bull selection criteria includes unassisted birth, birth weight, weaning weight, docility score, structure and phenotype, a successful breeding soundness exam, semen test, 36 cm minimum scrotal measurement and acceptable EPDs for calving ease, birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight.
Calves are weaned at an average age of 180 days, and bulls are fed in a 7 acre lot with timber shelter. They are hand fed a high fiber, high protein, low starch ration. Overall, Cason is proud that his bulls are holding up to the environments they are put in, maintaining their body scores and servicing cows for many years.
Females are selected using performance data, visual appraisal, frame score measurements, and EPD’s. Around 95% of the females are AI’d, but embryo transfer is used to accelerate genetic progress in proven cow families.
Like most award winning beef producers, Cason is interested in continual improvement in many aspects of his operation. He has been working to improve the environmental impact of his operation, by fencing off timber, creeks and highly erodible areas. He uses paddock grazing and has fenced off ponds and reduced erosion on the farm.
Cason is also dedicated to the quality of his herd and the needs of his customers. “I want to produce the kind and type of cattle that will be successful in all phases of the cattle industry,” he says. This philosophy has paid off, as Cason has built relationships with his buyers, and is now selling seedstock to the second generation in many families.
In addition to raising his seedstock herd, Cason worked at the Ajinomoto amino acid plant in Eddyville. His focus was a ruminant protected Lysine for dairy cattle, and he’s hopeful that the product will someday be available at an affordable price for beef cattle.
Cason is also a Monroe County Fair Board member, and has served 19 years as the 4H beef superintendent and 12 years as a 4H leader. Working with youth in the industry has been one of the highlights of his career. He is also a member of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and served on the Monroe County Cattlemen’s board for many years.
This award is one of many for Cason, who has been named the Monroe County Outstanding Cattleman and been inducted into the Monroe County Farm Bureau Ag Hall of Fame. He has also earned the Christensen Elite award given by the Iowa Simmental Association, the Iowa State Fair Premier Exhibitor Simmental Award 4 times, and overall Premier Exhibitor 3 times for the Simmental open show.
Cason credits much of his success to his wife of 42 years, Janet. Together, they have two sons, Colton and Landon, who is a partner in the farm. Landon and his wife, Brittney, recently had a baby boy named Tucker, who no doubt gives another meaning to the farm name – Cason’s Pride and Joy.