Close collaboration with their seedstock supplier and astute marketing helped earn the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) Commercial Producer of the Year award for Todd and Kelly Frank of Frank Farms, Kirk, Colo. The family enterprise topped a field of eight nominees that also included Leland and Nancee Richards, Salina, Kan.; Avery and Harrington Ranch, Stotts City, Mo.; Vanisko Ranches, Deer Lodge, Mont.; Steve and Kay Shafer, Beaver City, Neb.; L7 Ranch, Leonard, N.D.; 3-C Ranch, McAlester, Okla.; and Broken Arrow S Ranch, McLaughlin, S.D.
Kent Andersen, Ph.D., NALF executive vice president, and Bo Sexson, NALF co-director of member and commercial relations, presented the award Jan. 16 during the Limousin pen and carload shows at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver, Colo.
“With more than 15 years of using individual animal identification; birth, weaning, yearling and cow weights; and carcass data to manage their herd, the Franks' performance-oriented mind-set is an example for those who want to succeed in today's beef industry,” Sexson said.
When he was younger, Todd showed Limousin cattle in 4-H. After graduating from Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, he returned home and started a farming and cow-calf enterprise. Seventeen years later, he and his family manage 240 head of commercial cows.
During their time in the cattle business, the Franks have owned only Limousin and Lim-Flex® bulls. They select animals that combine growth, fertility, longevity, disposition, salvage value and carcass merit. The recent drought in Colorado also taught them to look at frame size and fleshing ability when selecting breeding stock.
“The Limousin breed still makes the most economic sense in our environment and market area,” Todd said. “Limousin and Lim-Flex genetics have allowed us to meet our goals year in and year out.”
Mat Lewis of Lewis Limousin, Iliff, Colo., who nominated the Franks for the award, said the couple never has wavered in its dedication to using Limousin genetics.
“Their excitement for the breed and commitment to the beef cattle industry is second-to-none,” he commented. “Their program gives a great example of how Limousin genetics are benefiting the commercial sector.”
The Franks consult with Lewis Limousin when selecting artificial-insemination (AI) sires for breeding their first-calf heifers and in purchasing herd bulls for natural service.
“Their guidance is very important for us in the selection process,” Todd said. “Because we work closely with our seedstock supplier, we have the unique opportunity of knowing prospective herd sires' dams and can place selection emphasis on not only growth and performance but also udder quality and fertility.”
Over the last 17 years, the Franks have improved their calving rate through sire selection, a herd-health program and pregnancy checking. Since 1993, when they started recording weaning weights, the average has increased from 454 to 621 pounds.
Frank Farms retains ownership of its steers and non-replacement females through finishing and markets the cattle to Tyson Fresh Meats on a value-based grid. It strives to produce a lean, Choice carcass. In 2007, the steers graded 7 percent Prime, 63 percent Choice and 30 percent Select. The heifers graded 5 percent Prime, 71 percent Choice and 24 percent Select.
“We do not use implants in the finishing phase,” Todd explained. “That might cost us a little in our percentage of Yield Grades 1 and 2, but we feel we are making up the difference with the increased percentage of Choice cattle.”
“We also feel the inherent feed efficiency and performance of our Limousin genetics compensate for anything that might have been lost without implants,” he added. “Genetically, we are the right track to take full advantage of many of today's grids that pay premiums for superior carcass traits.”