By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
As the drought’s grip on eastern New Mexico loosens, Mitzi and Robert Miller say people are at least thinking about starting to expand their cattle herds again.
The Millers certainly have. In fact, the American Angus Association has recognized the Miller’s “grandma and grandpa operation” for having the largest registered Angus beef cattle herd in New Mexico.
The couple had a recorded 216 head during the fiscal year of 2013, which ended in September, according to the American Angus Association’s CEO Bryce Schumann.
According to the association’s website, Angus cattle offer producers significant advantages through superior genetics, data, and programs and services. Those attributes make the Angus breed more desirable than other breeds, the website said.
The Millers’ cattle represents 11 percent of the Angus cattle registered in the state. The couple said registering with the Angus association is good for credibility and documents the genetic history of their cattle for sale.
The Millers were not the only Angus breeders of Roosevelt County among the top 10 in the state. Greg Smith of Elida ranked eighth and had a recorded 63 head of Angus with the association.
Angus numbers for the state have dropped since 2011. The Millers attribute the drop to the drought, but with more precipitation this year, Mitzi Miller expects people to start growing their herds again.
“With the lack of grass, everybody at least cut back,” said Mitzi Miller about cattle herds. “The last three years have really been tough because the drought has hurt everyone in the cattle business. People are ready to expand again.”
For her and her husband, raising cattle is a way of life and though they pulled back in their numbers for a while as well, better grazing conditions has given them a positive outlook for the future.
“We had always been around cattle, it’s just something we’ve always done,” Mitzi Miller said.
The couple rents grazing land for its cattle about 10 miles from Floyd. Mitzi Miller said at one point the drought was so bad, they were feeding their cattle with feed daily because there was no grass.
Without nearly any hired help, the couple does all the day-to-day work. Robert Miller said smaller operations often use artificial insemination to grow their herds. The couple is able to choose the type of semen to inseminate their heifers with from a catalogue that shows specific traits of bulls, such as docility.
“It’s a good way to build genetics in your herd for small operations like us,” said Robert Miler. “Docility is important to us as we get older. The cattle are better gentile. We find a bull that has a lot of eye appeal.”
The couple specializes in selling their animals to ranchers to help improve the genetics of other herds.
According to the association, Angus breeders across the nation registered more than 388,000 head of Angus cattle.
“Our year-end statistics continue to demonstrate strong demand for Angus genetics and solidify our long-held position as a leader in the beef cattle industry,” Schumann said in a press release. “These results underscore our members’ commitment to providing genetic solutions to the beef cattle industry.”
Angus cattle registration in New Mexico
Source: American Angus Association