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Paynesville Press - July 14, 2004

Double-H Charolais hosts cattle show

By Michael Jacobson

Charolais breeders from four states - Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin - gathered on Saturday for the summer show of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Charolais Association at Double-H Charolais near Paynesville.

The show attracted around 60 people and featured 45 cows, including four from Double-H Charolais, owned by Harlin and Sue Hecht, who hosted the event.

The summer show was the second for the two-state association, which used to rotate its summer show between various county fairs. Now, for convenience, the association holds a one-day event to show some cows and to socialize with other breeders.

pulling cow Socializing with other breeders is a real value of the summer show, according to Larry Wakefield, who farms near New Richland and claims to have the oldest charolais farm in Minnesota, outdating even the Minnesota Charolais Association, which merged with Wisconsin's a few years ago.

Thomas Borchardt of Pepin, Wis., pulls a calf during the futurity show on Saturday at the Double-H Charolais Farm near Paynesville.

Kirby Holen, who came to Paynesville from North Dakota, agreed in the value of socializing. "You take new things home with you and hope somebody else takes things home with them," he said. Shows also serve an educational purpose, said Kuester, which is also important since fewer and fewer Americans today are farm kids. Another purpose of the association is to promote charolais, like angus which has been featured in a national advertising campaign for Hardee's as the best beef. All the pure-bred charolais breeders on Saturday consider their breed to be the best. Angus, though, has a huge association in the country to promote its beef, noted Holen, a board member of the North Dakota Charolais Association, which is considering joining the Minnesota/Wisconsin Charolais Association. Their association, he said, needs more active members to educate the public and promote charolais cattle.

Hecht started with three charolais cows in 1968 while he was still teaching agriculture to high schoolers. (He and Sue moved to Paynesville in 1970 where they raised charolais cattle and three sons - Howard, Mark, and Dale - who all still belong to the Minnesota/Wisconsin Charolais Association.)

Now, Double-H Charolais has over 100 charolais, in addition to some other breeds that are used as recipient cows for breeding purposes.

Duane Kuester, the president of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Charolais Association, who farms near Menomonie, Wis., said 90 percent of the association's members' sales are to commercial beef producers. "Farmers that don't have registered cattle want bulls that will produce easier calving and faster weight gain," he explained.

Hecht walking cow Charolais, a breed of cattle originally used as milking cows in France, gain weight faster than any other breed, its members agree. While angus may claim to be the best beef, charolais breeders believe their cows are superior.

Commercial producers, who just want to turn feed into meat as efficiently as possible in order to maximize profits, want purebred charolais for high-producing hybrids.

Mark Hecht of Paynesville shows a cow during the futurity show on Saturday afternoon at Double-H Charolais in Paynesville. The Hecht family hosted charolais breeders from four states - showing 45 charolais cows - at the summer show of their association on Saturday.

Hybrids, or cross-breeds, are always better, so if you take a charolais and cross it with, say, an angus, you combine their fast weight gain and get a charolais-angus cross that gains weight even faster, Kuester said. Hybrids are always healthier and heartier, too, he added.

"Hybrids are always bigger," agreed Richard Wright, a Wisconsin farmer at the cattle show on Saturday. "They take the best traits from both sides and eliminate some of the bad qualities."

Hybrids, added Wright, can gain weight up to 15 percent faster than a pure breed. For registered breeders, said Hecht, "Quality is what counts."

Commercial beef producers want to get quality from registered cattle breeders because "they don't want to go through all the little things we do to make our herds better," said Hecht, like genetics, DNA testing, ultrasounds, and cattle shows.

Hecht, who sells cattle to both commercial producers and other charolais breeders, is "one of the best in the country," said Kuester, using genetics and techniques like ultrasound to produce top cattle.

On Saturday, one of the four charolais shown by Double-H Charolais was a $20,000 bull from which the Hechts are selling semen.

Registered charolais breeders will attend several more shows and sales during the summer, including state fairs in Iowa and Minnesota and national cattle shows in Kansas City and Denver.

The one-day summer show is more convenient for members, said Hecht, since they can come and go on the same day. More and more members also work second jobs, including Hecht, who has been a district sales manager for Land O' Lakes for 35 years, as well as raising charolais. In addition to cattle shows and sales inside and outside Minnesota, Double-H Charolais holds a bull sale every winter in Bagley, Minn., and will hold a cow sale this fall at the Hecht's Paynesville Township farm.

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