In March 2019, Justy Burleson and his brother made the trip to Pomona for the Judd Ranch Bull Sale. "We bought two Red Angus, one Gelbvieh, and one Balancer," he says.
This was not Justy's first time buying Judd Ranch genetics. In 2000, Justy purchased four females from Judds. Those females were the foundation of the Burleson cow herd for many years.
Justy says his family has been in the cattle business for more than 60 years. Growing up his family had Herefords and then transitioned to a cross with Gelbvieh in the late 80s. When Justy took over the family operation he decided he wanted to transition to purered Gelbvieh. This is what led him to Judds. "Taking the next step, I wanted to go to the best place in the country for the basis of my herd."
He says he followed the Judd Ranch blueprint of developing bulls. During this time, he also transitioned to producing grass finished cattle. "I was producing some amazing calves, improving weaning weights and dropping the frame score. They were spot on," Justy recalls. "At that time, our processor told us that our calves were the best butchering cattle he'd ever seen."
Then, Justy admits, he made a wrong move. He transitioned the herd to buying bulls from a producer who focused on low inputs. "For several years, the Gelbvieh mommas were still cranking out good calves, but I went too long using those bulls," he says.
This decision caused his herd to have declining calf performance and reduced fertility, Justy admits. This realization led Justy back to Judd Ranch in the spring of 2019. "I remembered the good bulls and wanted those bulls again," he says.
Justy visited with Roger Gatz, Judd Ranch consultant, about what he was looking for and needing for his breeding program. "Roger and I have talked numerous times through the years," Justy says. "There is a lot of different ways to look at cattle, but I've never came across anyone with an eye like Roger has. He can narrow it down to four or five animals that will fit your program. There are very few people with the skill he has. You tell him you need something and he can find it for you."
After Justy and his brother bought four bulls in the 2019 sale, they returned to Ohio and put them to work. The first calves out of those bulls were born in the spring of 2020.
"Holy cow, it is night and day difference," Justy says about his calves sired by Judd Ranch bulls. "I have no idea why I got away from Judd genetics. In one year, we've improved weights by 100 lbs. It's just amazing."
Justy says his calves have more energy than they've had in about 10 years. "They have vigor but also common sense. They are super docile."
Another bonus he's looking forward to is the maternal ability of Judd genetics. The Burleson herd includes 150 females with one third spring calving and two thirds fall calving.
"I've told other producers they are crazy if they are not using Judd Ranch bulls," he says. "I believe you've never been to a bull sale until you've been to a Judd Ranch bull sale. It is a great place to network with other great cattlemen and to have an opportunity to see what's behind the program. I plan to go in the spring and take some people I talked into buying Judd Ranch bulls."
Justy also says you can't find a better family to work with than the Judds. "I will always remember when I called the Judd Ranch for the first time in 1999 and left a message. Dave Judd called me back and talked to me for about two hours. He asked me questions about me and my conditions. It was a fantastic conversation and that means everything."
"Both Dave and Cindy are the most honest and personable people. They treat every customer with a great amount of respect."
Judd Ranch genetics will continue to find a home at the Burlesons. "I'm back," Justy confirms. "I'm very happy to be working with Judd Ranch and I can't think of a reason to ever move away from those genetics again."