Q&A with Jay WilderJay Wilder
Jay Wilder is the fourth generation partner in his family’s farming and ranching operation known as Wilder Family Limousin today. The operation was established in 1912 and farming was the primary business for the operation until Jay began showing Limousin cattle in 1982.
Located in Snook, Texas, Wilder Family Limousin runs approximately 100 head of Purebred and Lim-Flex registered cattle as well as a large commercial cow operation. The farm operation grows cotton, grain sorghum, wheat, sunflowers and soybeans.
Why did the Wilder’s choose the Limousin breed?
Originally, I showed Brangus cattle, and that was because they were a lot more adaptive and prevalent in our area. Then, we got a new county extension agent that had connections to the Limousin breed, like the Peterson family out of South Dakota. That’s where we got a lot of our cattle from then,through the Peterson family. Although, we did buy a lot of cattle from what I assume was the TLA sale at that point in San Anglo every year, which we attended pretty regularly.
What has made your family continue to raise Limousin cattle for nearly 40 years?
We’ve always liked the docility. Though, if you say docility, a lot of people say that has been an issue with Limis, but any breed has issues with certain EPDs or characteristics. But, we’ve always managed to have good, docile cattle. And they fit what we’re doing here on our farm and in our operation.
Showing wise, I showed Brangus cattle, and there always seemed to be a disposition issue with them. As a kid, they may have been fun to have that activity around but as I’ve gotten older, I don’t want any part of a disposition issue and we don’t have that at all. If there’s a disposition issue, then it goes down the road. There’s way too many gentle ones out there to have a bad one.
Looking back, when I started with Limis, to today’s Limis, they are totally different. Like everything else, times have changed. I think today, we’ve got a really high productive cow that will marble and produce what consumers are looking for and demanding at the store. We see that in our bull sales. Commercial producers are catching on to the Lim-Flex side of it and seeing what that can do to commercial cows. We’ve got the milking ability back in them to a very good standard. So if someone’s trying to raise some replacement heifers, that good.
As a breed, we’ve come a long way over the last 40 years for sure. We’ve just got more meat in the cattle today. We’ve toned that frame size down, got more belly in them, more rib-shape to them and are just producing more meat.
What do you think the future of the Limousin breed looks like? The future of your herd?
I think in general, we’re on a very positive upswing. We’ve got cattle that will grade, that will milk, that will put rib-shape into your herd. I think we’re in a very good situation right now. And, I think our Lim-Flex side has really helped us. Even though the purebreds have come a long way as well. But, I think we’ve got to keep promoting both sides of the breed. I see it here locally. There’s a negative perception of Limis but it’s people with the mindset of our old school Limi’s, from back in the 80’s and 90’s. They’re not looking at what we have available today, where we’ve made all these big strides in grading ability and more.
In our operation, we run Limi bulls primarily on all of our commercial cows and see a lot of positives there. We have several different kinds of commercial cows, I’d say. We have some Brangus type, then some Gert-Hereford cattle and then just kind of a mixed set. I really see a lot of positives. I really like when we run our Limi bulls on our Gert-Hereford cross cows and that makes really, really good replacement type heifers. I’ve always been told it’s hardest to sell bulls to your neighbor more than anything else and finally, this year I’ve got one that bought two. He put them on a set of Gert-Herefords because he’s been watching mine and likes them.
We have some Lim-Flex type cows that we don’t think are good enough to be in our registered herd, but are still good cows, and we turn around and run a Charolias bull on those. That’s been making some really good replacement heifers and then we’ll run back a Limi bull on those. So we’re getting a good 3/4 type replacement heifer there as well.
We’re kind of all over the board with it. But, we primarily try to raise our own replacement heifers because we know what we’ve got. It seems like every time we get mad and buy some replacement heifers, by the time we get through culling out disposition and bad bags and stuff, we’re down to 50%. We still will have that too, but we try to do that on our own and save a little money.
For our registered herd, we’ve really been pushing to improve our EPD numbers. That seems to be a driving force right now, good numbered cattle, so we’ve been striving for that side of it. Whether we’re AI’ing to bulls with higher yearling and weighing weight or we bought some cows or replacement heifers to fit that side of the program, just trying to build those base numbers up. Hopefully by doing so, we can pass that on to folks that are purchasing our cattle. We’ve done that through AI and through embryo work as well. We’ve bought some donor cows and are doing our own flushes. Trying it at all angles. By natural service, through the AI side, or embryos all different ways to bring in some different outside genetics.
What has it looked like to have the generational shift of having your boys come back home to work for the operation?
Our farm started out in 1912, so that makes me a 4th generation, and the boys are now a 5th generation. That’s something that is very, very rare in today’s times to have your kids come back to the farm. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky that both of them really love what they do. We farm and we ranch, so there’s always something to do. And that’s been very positive.
Technology on our tractors is no different than the technology in our cars or computers now, there’s so much technology available and it’s been nice to have them around because they’re not afraid of it. They’ve helped us advance a lot along those lines. And they are very willing to try anything.
It’s been very beneficial to myself and my dad. It’s myself, my dad and both boys and then we have one other full time employee running our entire operation and so, it’s been very good. I’m very proud to have them back home and working with us.
What can breeders look forward to in the upcoming TLA Showcase Sale?
In the upcoming sale, the availability throughout, there will be some breeding age bulls, some breds, pairs, so anyone who’s looking for any type of situation, we should be able to fulfill that.
Wilder Family Limousin is going to have some open heifers and three yearling bulls. All of our heifers will be Lone Star Shoot-Out eligible. Our heifers will be out of our bull, L7 Calvados and also our MAGS Aviator bull. I’ll have one or two others as well but those will be the base of what we’re offering this time. They’re really good, sound cattle. And the bulls are the same way, they’ll be ready to go to work this fall for sure.