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Cultivating Community, Customer Service, and Diversified Genetics

By Emme Demmendaal    |    

Focused on his customers and community, Tim Smith develops premium SimGenetic cattle and supports junior development programs to provide a better future for the agricultural industry.

“When customers buy an animal from us, and they're driving out the driveway, we're not waving goodbye to them,” shares Tim Smith, owner and operator of Smith Genetics, Giddings, Texas. For Smith, each buyer’s success, from the show ring, to college scholarships, and next year’s calf crop, is an important measurement of success for his business.

“Whether you have a question involving genetics, calving difficulties, or why your heifer's sick, our clients know they can pick up the phone, and we will try to provide them with an answer and/or a resource to help solve the problem.”

Smith is a first-generation rancher, leader, and businessman. Diversified in both breed selection and business offerings, Smith runs 500 head of registered Simbrah, Simmental, and SimAngus™ cows on land ranging from improved pasture to true Texas cactus country. The operation offers commercial embryo transfer and artificial insemination work in addition to an annual Cow Camp for youth to improve their public speaking and cattle industry knowledge.

“I strongly believe agriculture is the best place for a family to raise good children that understand the value of nature, mankind, sportsmanship, and major skill sets, like the value of a work ethic.” Smith says, “As a part of the seedstock industry, we are the leaders that make the necessary changes to trickle down to the commercial industry. In a leadership role, I love mentoring the youth in our program.”

Providing Diversified Genetics

Spread over 6,000 acres and multiple locations, Smith Genetics cattle perform in a wide range of environments. As a firm believer in easy keeping cows that will work in tough environments, Smith shares, “From cactus and mesquite to improved coastal grass, our cattle have to work for a living. We don’t tie feed buckets around their neck. Feed efficiency and the ability to convert forage is very important to us.”

Simmental-based cows provide diversification in genetic offerings for Smith’s buyers while he maintains the same proven cow family. He says, “The Simmental breed gives me the versatility producing Purebred Simmental, Simbrahs, and SimAngus from the same genetic base without starting over. I receive great support and data through the Association to make the proper selections in my programs. It gives the opportunity to work with youth, which is an added benefit to market animals.”

Meeting the demand of his customers, Smith provides AI and ET work all year round. Any youth purchasing heifers from Smith Genetics has access to AI services and can select semen from his herd bull battery at no expense to breed animals purchased from him until they are 21 years old.

For his operation, he avoids calving in the warmest months of the year, but to meet age-class requirements for stock shows, he focuses on breeding for the different age categories. Providing the genetics for three breeds to different age-classes and shows has created a larger marketing base for Smith Genetics. He shares that marketing is at the forefront of his breeding program, “If I have a donor that produces 10 embryos, I’m going to stagger implanting to have two or three heifers each month for three months. That gives me three age groups of outstanding heifers to market that won’t be competing against one another even though they are the same genetic base.”

Because his cattle travel long distances, Smith pays special attention to his cow's phenotypical structure as well as maternal traits and calving ease. While sturdy feet and leg structure is an essential trait to stayability, Smith says it also benefits the animal in the ring. “Because our cattle have to cover so much territory, we’ve been able to breed cattle that truly will stride and cover their tracks,” he shares, “If a junior at a show can get in the top of the class, and that judge says, ‘Walk them,’ we're always excited because our cattle travel well.”

Along with other maternal qualities, each cow must be able to calve without assistance. Smith says, “Femininity, milking ability, and calving ease are critical for us. With how large our operation is, to tell you I’m standing at the side of a cow every time a calf is born would be nothing but a blatant lie. But I don’t feel like I have to stand over that SimGenetic cow because she's bred right and ASA’s provided me the tools to make those matings.

In addition to private treaty sales, Smith hosts the Synergy Produc120 Simmental, Simbrah, and SimAngus females are sold. Clients who have previously purchased from Smith are invited to market and sell cattle through his sale.

Focused on providing balanced animals for seedstock and commercial buyers, Smith uses indexes as a tool to ensure he and his customers are selecting performance-driven cattle. While all the sale animals’ EPDs are viewable on their website, for the last six years, only the indexes have been printed in the catalog.

Smith has found success in using indexes in addition to selecting for structural correctness, milking ability, teat structure, and femininity. “If you pick up my sales catalog, you’ll only see $API and $TI, no other EPDs, because those two indexes combine the other EPDs ensuring you’re not single-trait selecting. And it gives our new breeders the best insight on what they’re truly getting.”

Encouraging Youth

Each year, Smith Genetics works with 60 to 100 juniors who invest in Smith’s Simmental, SimAngus, or Simbrah cattle. Outside of the show ring there are a lot of other cattle-related competitions that Smith remains dedicated to preparing juniors for. “We try to help juniors through the contests that ASA and the livestock industry offers. We prepare kids with the ultimate goal of building a resume and qualifying them for scholarships.”

One of the largest supporters of ASA’s Merit Awards, Smith commends ASA on providing a scholarship for the youth to apply to for further education, “A lot of people don’t even realize that our youth who come up through SimGenetics are eligible to win $5,000 by utilizing the three tiers of the Merit Awards. I truly think the American Simmental Association's youth program is the best-kept secret that we all need to be sharing with our industry.”

To provide a space for juniors to prepare for competitions, Smith offers a two-day Cow Camp each May where juniors work on showmanship and livestock knowledge. The event teaches the youth how to select, groom, and present their animals. Other skill-building events are livestock judging, oral reasons, showmanship, herdsman quiz, and the genetic evaluation quiz.


“From the time I was 14 years old, Tim Smith has made a large impact on my life. Now that I am 24, he continues to show me there’s something new to be learned every day. He’s made an impact on many people’s lives, whether it’s in the cattle industry, business, or mentorship. He’s truly invested in helping people and making a positive impact on the world.” — Kaleb Fontenot, Temperance Livestock Company, Henderson, Texas.


“We go over all the tools used in our industry to select, sell, and show better cattle through skill-a-thon competitions,” he says, “Even though these are important ASA events, we also incorporate them into our stock shows in Texas with other breeds. At Texas Majors, it’s not uncommon for a kid exhibiting Simmental or SimGenetics to win those competitions which include a $10,000 scholarship.”

While Smith enjoys working with youth and helping them exhibit cattle, he really enjoys helping them develop life-long skills and learn more about the beef industry. He encourages juniors to chase after the scholarships, “When they buy a heifer, I tell them ‘you might make money showing cattle, but the best way you can thank your parents and grandparents is to go out and win the scholarships. Further your education.’ Cattle are just a way to make the contacts to get those opportunities."

Simbrah-Simmental Superbowl

Smith, in partnership with Carlos Guerra, La Muñeca Cattle Company, Linn, Texas, and Bill Wentz, Olmito, Texas, formed the Simbrah-Simmental Superbowl, an event founded to support, encourage, and promote the involvement of youth in the beef industry and breeders of SimGenetics. 

Simbrah and Simmental breeders pay $1,000 per year to sponsor the event, in turn making females they breed eligible to compete in the Simbrah-Simmental Superbowl. Juniors then compete using these heifers for scholarship money in both phenotype and showmanship classes. Phenotype classes include Simmental, Simbrah, and percentage shows. Showmanship is split into nine age groups, with exhibitors of all breeds competing against one another.

Held in conjunction with the San Antonio Livestock Show, the event awards over $47,000 from 47 breeders each year in scholarships, and in the past 28 years the show has awarded the youth involved in SimGenetics more than one million dollars.

Smith says, “I’m a firm believer that if you take care of your breed, your breed will take care of you. To thank the kids who purchased our animals and do something special for them, we started the Superbowl. If you can touch the people that have purchased from you and let them know you’re supporting them, that’s a win-win for all involved.”

From lining cattle up at the ring to announcing winners, each person who helps does it on a volunteer basis and accepts no money. “Everyone volunteers and the Simbrah and Simmental breeders who sponsor, we try to touch as many youth as we can. For us, it’s not just about who can pick the best animal — it’s about which child has the work ethic to go out there and work the hardest and learn showmanship. They can win just as much as the kid that’s got the high-dollar best heifer. I’m all about rewarding youth for their hard work and effort.”


“Our kids didn’t just buy a heifer from Tim. They learned skills for the skill-a-thon, cattlemen's quiz, showmanship, and sales talk. They received so many opportunities to succeed. It didn’t matter what their name was or what their background was if they wanted to put in the work to learn, Tim helped.” — Anika Sansom, mother of two juniors showing Smith Genetics heifers.


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Constantly Moving Forward

Raised on a farm in Kentucky, Smith remembers always being interested in cattle. He shares, “I was actively involved in 4-H and FFA as a kid. My parents raised burley tobacco and worked more crops than livestock. So I was the family member who was involved with cattle and horses.”

Smith earned his bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky (UK). Out of school, he accepted a position as Executive Secretary for the Kentucky Simmental Association. He shares, “Working for the Kentucky Association was how I truly got connected to Simmental; even though we had bred some cows at home when I was younger, Simmental was still what people considered somewhat new.”

A year later, he accepted a position with Mike Malloy, Mt. Brilliant Farm, and Achilles Cattle Company, while simultaneously finishing a master’s degree in Animal Nutrition from UK focusing on its impact on reproduction

While in graduate school, Smith taught Beef Cattle Short Course at Colorado State University, and in 1984, he moved to Texas for a position with Parthenon Corporation. He worked there for five years prior to starting his own business. Smith fell in love with developing his own herd and genetics, “I’ve been very fortunate that the cattle industry has always been a growing industry that's changing. I get excited about the changes, new opportunities, and more efficiencies that we have — not just in our cattle in the data collection, but also in the reproductive end of the cattle.”

Smith is the proud father of his adult daughter, Haley, who is an occupational therapist, specializing in spinal cord injury and specialty rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. When she was younger, Haley was very active in the Texas Junior Simmental/ Simbrah Association and the AJSA.

Tim concludes, “I’m a firm believer, if you have a good work ethic, you will be successful in life. That’s one of the reasons why I love our youth programs. These kids learn work ethic and how to take care of their heifers, steers, or projects, and that transfers over to them when they select a career choice. I am excited to be a part of that.”

 

 

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