By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
Blow-drying cattle hair is proving a productive use of time for one Elida rancher.
To stimulate hair growth in his registered Angus show cattle, Greg Smith or one of his few employees rinse and blow dry the animals daily.
The result: Other than some really good-looking if not well-coiffed bovines is a barn full of major trophies.
Smith’s cattle have won numerous awards and earned enough points to make Smith the American Angus Association Roll of Victory Breeder of the Year six times.
But it isn’t all about the hair. Smith has a quarter-century experience raising the cattle and has shown nationally for 10 years.
“Our goal is to breed cattle that are functional, sound and efficient with eye appeal,” he said.
Breeding-age range bulls for commercial cattlemen across the Southwest account for the largest part of Smith’s business. However, he also sells embryos and semen for artificial insemination around the nation and in Canada, Mexico and Argentina.
George Bratton of Bratton Angus Ranch in Caldwell, Idaho, said his son, Kyle, has purchased young heifers from Smith, and all of them did well in shows.
“His cattle kind of speak for themselves,” Bratton said.
Bratton teaches Kyle and others about preparing and showing cattle, although many people won’t help possible competitors.
“The nice thing about him is he likes to share his knowledge,” Bratton said.
Bratton called Smith fair and honest.
Smith shows in about 15 competitions a year from Oregon to Maryland. He said it opens doors to meet potential buyers and market his cattle’s genetic line.
Smith believes each animal’s appearance, proprotion and structural correctness make him or her a winner.
At any given time, Smith works with about 20 show animals. He takes eight to 14 to each show.
On top of normal chores on a cattle ranch, Smith and his employees must work with the show cattle daily to bathe, feed and train them to lead and act properly in the ring.
Preparation, travel and showing for one show takes about a week, Smith said. He works 12 to 14 hours a day on showing and typical ranch duties.
Smith’s cattle operation began in 1983, when he bought a few heifers.
“Growing up on a ranch in Roosevelt County, I learned that the Angus breed was the most functional breed of cattle for this area,” he said.
The cows have easy births and are good mothers, according to Smith.
Through artificial insemination, embryo transfer and gathering select females, Smith built his business.
The ailing economy and high costs of fuel and feed are the biggest challenges of the business, Smith said. However, he said the drive to market his cattle across the nation and to suceed keep him going.