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Midway Polled Herefords raising bulls for six generations
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Midway Polled Herefords raising bulls for six generations

Midway Polled Herefords

Midway Polled Herefords is a sixth-generation family farm and ranch in Sheyenne, N.D.

SHEYENNE, N.D. – Midway Polled Herefords, a sixth-generation family farm and ranch, began operations in 1953 when Doug Smith founded the family’s registered Polled Hereford herd.

According to Bill Smith, Doug’s son, the operation’s goal is to produce big, rugged 2-year-old bulls and raise them with longevity and survivability in mind – selecting only the top one-third of bull calves from their 200 registered cows.

They also have 170 commercial cows consisting of Hereford and Black Angus genetics, and these cows produce a large group of black baldy replacement heifers that are offered for sale yearly.

“People like our bulls because they’ll go out on pasture and stay in shape,” Bill said. “When we bring them home in the fall, they are in good shape and they last for several seasons. Same with the females people get from us – they’re trouble-free and low-maintenance.”

Bills says they tend to breed their cattle a little bit bigger than other producers do nowadays.

“We never moved to the shorter, real compact animal,” he said. “We try to stay on the bigger side – a little more performance and muscling. If you go too short or too small, you can lose some of those things. The feedlots don’t want small cattle. The first thing that disappears when you go to a smaller frame are your more expensive cuts – your ribeyes and T-bones.”

The operation is split up between two separate farms, with one farm utilized to run the commercial cows. Bill’s daughter, Whitney, and her husband, Jake, have cows in both locations – some registered and some commercial. Also part of the team at Midway Polled Herefords are Whitney and Jake’s kids, Will and Andie, Bill’s wife, Karen, as well as Bill’s mother, Ann, who is still an active part of the ranch. Bill and Karen’s other daughter, Katie Langley, lives five miles away.

“Jake is kind of the main thrust behind everything. It wouldn’t work without him,” Bill said. “Whitney teaches second grade and works a lot with us on the cattle, too. She can run about anything on the farm.”

The Smiths start selling bulls in January by private treaty and the replacement heifers are sold in February.

“The heifers are usually all gone by March,” he said. “We sell close to 100 females every year and 30-40 2-year-old bulls.”

Calving season starts a little later in the spring, as the Herefords don’t calve until around the first of April.

Midway Polled Herefords is also diversified in grain crops, growing spring wheat, soybean, corn, oats, as well as lots of alfalfa and hay.

“We have cash crops, but we grow pretty much all of our own feed,” Bill said. “We still have some hay we’re trying to get dry. We’ll make close to 4,500-5,000 bales.”

The Smiths finished up with soybean harvest on Sunday, Oct. 31, and Bill described it as one of the worst bean harvests he’d ever seen.

“It was terrible,” he said. “We dried up here. We didn’t get any crops. Some of our wheat wasn’t good enough to hay – appraising from 2.6-3.4 bushels for insurance. For the beans, it started raining after the crops were almost dead, and then they greened up and never grew, so then we had all kinds of trouble trying to get it harvested.

“Now we’re doing corn, and that’s all burnt up. There’s places you drive and there are no cobs at all. We chopped about 400 acres and we usually, between the two places, only chop about 170 acres. We still don’t know if we have enough silage,” he added.

The Smiths have enough feed for the winter months, but the quality remains a concern.

“We’ve got a lot of poor quality stuff,” he said. “I think we can get by feeding some liquid protein supplements if we have to. We put some millet out there where the wheat was, so we’ve got probably 150 bales or so out there, so that will help. That’s probably some good quality calf feed, but we’re running out of days to get it out. We could be white any day now.”

Farm & Ranch Guide would like to thank the Smith family for allowing us to following along with Midway Polled Herefords throughout the coming months. We wish you the best of success!

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