Cattle breeding has been a way of life for Montana ranchers for hundreds of years. Of course, their methods have developed through time as science has evolved, but the reason why they do it remains the same: to keep the circle of life going so they can make a living.
These days, the bulls aren't swiping right on Tinder. Walter Schweitzer, President of the Montana Farmers Union, serves as matchmaker.
“My slogan is: calve easy, wean big, and finish efficiently," said Schweitzer.
It seems simple to put two cows in a pasture and hope for the best, but many family farmers’ secret to breeding top notch cattle all lies with science.
Walt uses hair samples, DNA, and testing to determine which bull should try and mate with each cow.
"I usually start each breeding season with my youngest best genetics. My newest genetics and I give them the first shot at my cows for about 10 days. I look for the ones that have the best body shape, the best confirmation, good feet so that they'll breed until they're older, and the head shape is really important to me."
Once the decision is made it’s time to load up the cattle and get them ready to mate.
That road leads to pregnant cows in September and hopefully newborns in the spring. Walt says everything boils down to a little bit of love and science.
"It's all about the fun of genetics for me and making the matings that are gonna make the best bull for my customers.”
He carefully tracks every step of the process, and there are strict Angus guidelines he must follow before he can make a sale.
Montana Family Farms is sponsored by the Montana Farmers Union. Each story focuses on Walter Schweitzer’s life on the farm and a bigger impact on the industry across the Treasure State and beyond.