Carl Lufkin credits his dairy background with helping his registered Angus operation near Tendoy, Idaho.
Lufkin was raised near Idaho Falls on a farm where his family had a feedlot, grew corn and potatoes, raised cattle and milked cows.
“I became acquainted with virtually every segment of agriculture at a young age,” he said.
He married Robin Shiner from Leadore, Idaho. Her family raised beef cattle, and the young couple decided to go into the cattle business.
“Over the years we’ve leased more than 10 different ranches in the Lemhi Valley, trying to put a cow herd together,” Lufkin said.
He managed Karl Tyler’s property at Leadore for 16 years and went into partnership with Tyler. They bought Bob Adams’ Leadore Angus cows in 2003 and had an annual sale as Leadore Angus until 2015.
“Robin and I bought the Swanson ranch at Price Creek, and when we split partnership with Tyler and divided the cows, Robin and I took our share of the cows,” says Lufkin.
“Through the years leasing places and partnering on cattle we got a start, and now we’ve acquired property and can do our own thing.” Today he and Robin run 300 cows and sell 85 to 100 bulls each year.
“The original Leadore Angus herd, created by Bob Adams, was known for good maternal traits and calving ease. We’ve tried to build on that,” Lufkin said.
He feels his dairy background was a helpful education.
“I milked cows a long time. This teaches a person commitment, and to appreciate good udders, disposition and many things important to beef producers. Most cowboys would never brag about being cow milkers, but I learned as much about breeding good Angus cattle by milking cows as I did anything else,” Lufkin explains.
“We’ve never chased big numbers or fads; maternal traits come first. I always felt that if I created a good cow, then a good steer calf, heifer or good bull calf will be the by-product of that good cow,” Lufkin said.
The ranch on Price Creek has Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service allotments. Their purebred cattle run in an environment and elevation similar to many of their customers’ cattle. Living at high elevation, traveling to feed and water, raising a calf and breeding back again every year are things most commercial cows have to do.
“We don’t pamper our cattle. They’ve never seen a feed bunk or grain. We feed a lot of grass hay, a little alfalfa-grass hay, but they mainly make a living on grass and grass hay. We could raise bigger calves if we pushed them, but I do not believe in creep feed or artificial feeding situations.”
They participate in the Angus Association’s Pathfinder program that identifies superior-producing cows.
“A cow has to for 3 years in a row breed within a 30-day window, raise a calf at least 5% bigger than herd average, and never lose a calf,” he said of the program.
Only 1% of cows in the Angus breed are on this Pathfinder list.
“I am proud of our cows because 10% of our herd are Pathfinder cows. I think this is because we make our cows work, and the ones that stick around are productive,” said Lufkin.
“A seedstock producer’s job is to take some of the work out of raising cattle. I hate to pull calves, I hate to suckle calves, and I despise a wild cow. My role is to eliminate those problems and make our customers’ job easier and safer,” he explains.
Lufkin was recently inducted into the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame.