ALBIA, Iowa — Denny Cason grew up on a dairy farm, but when it comes to cattle, his first and only love has been the Simmental breed.
“I just fell in love with them in 1972 or 1973. I thought they were beautiful cattle,” he says.
“I showed them in high school, and when I bought our farm in Monroe County, I started AI-ing them because that was the only way I could afford to grow my herd.”
Today, Cason has a 170-cow herd, with Simmental genetics still very dominant in the makeup of the cattle. He was recently named 2019 Seedstock Producer of the Year by the Iowa Beef Breeds Council.
Cason and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Colton and Landon. Landon is a partner on the farm with his parents.
Cason also worked full-time at the Ajinomoto amino acid plant near Eddyville in addition to farming.
About 90 percent of the bulls they sell go to commercial producers, he says.
“That’s always been our priority,” the Southern Iowa producer says.
He started holding an annual bull sale several years ago at the Russell Livestock Market.
Each bull comes with a complete set of EPDs (expected progeny differences). Cason says he places more stock in EPDs than performance records, though performance records do have value for him.
He places an emphasis on certain traits, such as unassisted birth, birth weight and docility, among others.
The family calves in both the spring and fall, with 120 cows calving in the spring. Calves are weaned at about six months of age.
Replacement females must pass the eye test in addition to possessing the necessary EPDs, Cason says.
The family has also made the environment a priority, fencing off timber, creeks, ponds and other potentially erodible areas.
Cason has shown and sold his cattle in many locations, including the Iowa Beef Expo and the Hawkeye Simmental Sale.
“That’s a lot of fun for us, getting out and meeting people and seeing old friends,” he says.
Cason also stays active locally. He is a member of the county fair board, serving 19 years as the beef superintendent. Cason has been an active member of the Monroe County Cattlemen and has served on boards for the Iowa Simmental Association and Hawkeye Simmental Group.
Awards include induction into the Monroe County Farm Bureau Ag Hall of Fame. Cason was also awarded the Christensen Elite award given by the Iowa Simmental Association.
He says raising Simmental cattle remains enjoyable, and he appreciates the support of his many customers.
“I’m selling into the second generation and, in a couple of cases, the third generation,” Cason say.
“We have been blessed with unbelievable friendships and the chance to meet so many people. We truly appreciate being a part of everything our business has to offer.”