Father-and-son commercial cattle producers, Tom and Chris Gerke, agree that when you buy bulls, you get what you pay for. "You can't afford not to buy Judd Ranch bulls," Tom says.
Gerke Farms LLC, located near Pilot Grove, Missouri, manages 150 cows. The 95% purebred Gelbvieh herd is split 50:50 in a spring and fall 60-day breeding season. The family retains 10-15 percent of their females as replacements, and steer calves are backgrounded and then sold at the local sale barn.
"Thirteen years ago, my son, Chris, had just graduated from school and went to Judd's Bull Sale," Tom explains. "At the time bulls were selling for $1,500 to $2,000 in our area. Chris paid $4,500 for our first Judd bull. He was so worried about spending so much on a bull. That bull ended up being the best investment in a bull we've ever made."
Through the years the Gerkes have purchased six Judd Ranch bulls. "Judd Ranch bulls perform and do the job for us," Tom adds. "Using Judd Ranch bulls we have been able to uniform our calf crop in size and quality."
In 2005, the Gerkes attended the fall female sale and purchased two bred heifers. "That was the beginning of a good cow herd when we purchased those two females," Tom explains.
The Gerkes estimate using Judd genetics they have improved average weaning weights by 100 pounds. Judd Ranch bulls have also improved the quality of their heifers. They try to keep as many heifers each year that will fit their resources. "We have neighbors lined up to buy our heifers sired by Judd Ranch bulls," Tom says.
Docility is another trait the Gerkes tout as a strength of Judd Ranch genetics. "We've never had a Judd Ranch bull or influenced animal hit a gate," Tom says. "The bulls are extremely docile."
He also commented on the longevity of Judd Ranch bulls. They use the bulls for five to six years then they have neighbors wanting to buy their aged Judd Ranch bulls. Tom reports some of the Judd-bred bulls have been used by their neighbors until they were 10 or 12 years old.
Above all, the Gerkes are impressed with the service after the sale when buying Judd Ranch genetics. "There isn't anyone who is better to work with than the Judd family," Tom adds. "There is no one more honest than them."
Tom tells the story of buying a bull that came in the sale ring with a watery eye. Dave Judd and ranch consultant Roger Gatz both pointed out the issue on the microphone while the bull was in the ring explaining they did not know what happened to the calf but they guaranteed the bull to recover fully. The Judds kept the bull and treated the issue.
"When I called back a week after the sale to check on the bull and see how much I owed for the treatment, Cindy said, 'you don't own him or owe anything until he passes our satisfaction.' That is just how great they are at making sure their customers are 100% satisfied," Tom says with enthusiasm.
The entire Gerke family, including five of Tom's grandkids, love going to the Judd Ranch Bull Sale. But in 2018, the family was not able to attend and the Gerkes utilized the Judd Ranch Sight Unseen (SUS) program. Because of SUS, the family successfully purchased the Lot 1 bull.
Tom says there's no doubt they'll be back in future years. "If you are considering buying Judd bulls, but not 100 percent sure, it's worth the trip to the sale to see the offering," Tom adds. "As you walk through the bulls you will be blown away by how gentle they are as well as the quality from top to bottom."