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‘Cows pay the bills’ for four generations

‘Cows pay the bills’ for four generations

TINGLEY, Iowa — John Kiburz has the measured gait of a man who has spent more than a half century looking at cattle on days similar to this 45-degree day in late April. Landi McFarland Livingston watches as her grandfather checks out a group of heifers. She is well aware of the legacy she has inherited.

“He’s out every day, and he loves to look at cattle,” she says. “We all love it.”

Kiburz is the patriarch of Hoover Angus Farm, located near here in Ringgold County. The purebred Angus operation includes his daughter and son-in-law, Joy and David McFarland, along with granddaughter Landi, her husband Andrew and their two children, Gwen, 4, and Ty, 2.

The registered Angus herd was started in 1928 by F.W. (Walt) and Sadye Hoover. The farm has been owned by the family since 1856.

John and Barb Hoover Kiburz joined the operation in 1953. After Walt’s death, John and Barb took on the business, growing the operation to 2,200 acres over time.

Joy Kiburz McFarland and her husband David returned to the farm in 1980, helping John and Barb increase the size of the operation. Landi grew up in the operation, returning home from Iowa State University on weekends to help on the farm. She returned to the farm after graduating in 2006, and she and Andrew were married in 2014.

The cow herd was closed 20 years ago, and most of the cows have genetics dating back 10-plus generations of Hoover blood. Landi says one cow family has been in production for 19 consecutive generations on the farm.

The current herd includes 300 spring-calving cows, and 100 that calve in the fall.

All the family members work full-time on the farm.

“The cows pay the bills,” Landi says.

While some of the herd’s genetics remain the same, much has changed on the farm over the past nine decades.

“The beef industry is always changing and improving, and we try to be at the forefront of it,” Landi says. “We collect phenotypes on so many traits now that go into a genetic evaluation that helps produce EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences).”

Hoover Angus has embraced technology. For example, Landi uses an app to help access information about the cows, even in the middle of a pasture.

“It’s called Angus Mobile, and it holds just about anything you want to know about your cows,” she says. “If I’m checking out a cow and want to know more, it’s there. It has helped me tremendously.”

Most of the bulls are sold in February during the family’s annual sale. Landi says the family will bring in herd sires, and artificial insemination is also used.

Semen from the family’s bulls is also marketed, with customers located on five continents globally.

Landi says the size of the operation is just about ideal for the family’s labor availability.

“We are big enough that we can have our own sale, but we are small enough to manage and know our cows on an individual basis,” she says.

She says it’s too early to tell if Gwen and Ty will end up continuing the family legacy, but Landi says they do seem to enjoy life on the farm.

“We’ll make sure the opportunity is here for them if that’s what they choose,” she says. “We hope they will want to be a part of it.”

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Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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