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‘If you like the cow, you like the bull’

Jamie Hawley for Progressive Cattleman Published on 23 March 2018
Bill and Bev Roe are in the cattle industry

Ohio producer starts with his cows when making a bull sale

After receiving an engineering degree and being in the restaurant business, Bill Roe never thought he would become a cattleman.

But here he is, 23 years later, operating an Angus seedstock operation in southwest Ohio. Now he and his wife, Bev, take genetics and educational programs to the next level as they market their cattle – directly from their farm.

How they sell

When a buyer comes to Pedro’s Angus looking for a bull, they are not taken directly to the corral with the best-looking bulls. Bill gives them a tour of the whole operation.

“If it’s a new buyer, we take them out to look at the cows,” Bill says. “That’s what you should look for first, then, once you’re satisfied and these are the kind of females you want, then we go look at bulls.”

Bill roe drives buyers around the farm so they get to see every aspect of the operation

Like most seedstock operations, extensive records are important. Birth and weaning weights, dam weights and DNA work are essential. Pedro’s Angus does parent verification to know specifically where each animal comes from, which clearly explains why Bill starts the tour by looking at the cows first. According to Bill, if you like the cow, you’ll like the bull.

“We put ourselves in the place of the buyer and how they feel,” Bill says. “We’ve always picked all of our traits based on the commercial cattleman and what will make him more profitable.”

The Roes understand everyone has a budget. They don’t want to force anything on a buyer, and that is why they do not have an annual sale for their bulls. In Bill Roe’s experience, people get too caught up at sales and spend more money than they budgeted. In some cases, buyers eventually regret their purchase.

“We would rather people come to our place and feel very comfortable that whatever their budget allows them to spend, that’s what they are going to spend,” Bill says. “No one is going to pressure.”

According to Bill, Pedro’s Angus has developed a following because of this method of selling their stock. When buyers come, they get a tour and an up-close look at the animal, its habitat and parents. The farm is an open territory, but it’s secure.

Buying new cattle, and introducing them into the herd, is risky for any operation, but with Pedro’s Angus that’s not a worry. Biosecurity is taken to the next level. After a bull has been picked out, the Roes offer free delivery. Livestock trailers are not allowed on the farm to prevent the spread of illness and disease. After a delivery, the trailer is disinfected, ready for the next delivery.

This security allows Pedro’s Angus to secure the long-lasting herd they have worked hard to build. It guarantees their genetics are not compromised by the numerous sicknesses carried from farm to farm.

Additionally, the farm is inspected by the USDA and tested annually for TB, brucellosis and Johne’s disease. Also, every time before semen is collected, all bulls are tested. Integrity is extremely important to Pedro’s Angus. Due to the meticulous documentation the Roes keep, every buyer is given various paperwork, including current breeding soundness exams and health documents from day one of the animal’s life.

“We just hand them the paperwork; we are totally open,” Bill says. “If your program doesn’t have that integrity, you comprise that integrity of your buyer’s program.”

Pedro’s Angus also offers free housing. Bill explains if a buyer wants a bull on a certain day, they will get it on that day – no sooner, no later – that day. Following a purchase and a deposit, the Roes will house the bull until the buyer is ready for him. Bill thinks it works better this way because the buyer doesn’t have to put the bull in an old corral to sit for three months before breeding season. When the bull is delivered, he gets straight to work.

“We want to be able to sell 100 bulls a year, and we have to have repeat buyers,” Bill says. “By not doing a lot of advertising or big sale expenses, we save money in that area and spend money on things like the delivery or housing.”

Security is not the only reason free delivery is offered; the Roes want to visit and be on their new buyer’s farm.

“We want to be on their farm and talk to them about their cows,” Bill says. “Not a better topic to talk about with a rancher.”

After being on the farm and asking about the herd, they want to know which cow is their best because “we want to make more of her.” The Roes keep records for each buyer, what and when they purchased an animal. It allows them to sit down with buyers and discuss genetics and herd management extensively.

“We start working with them on how to improve their herd, and we can only do that if we have seen their herd and can keep track of their genetics,” Bill says. “By doing that, we can sit down and put together a program for people and explain to them how we think we can help them.”

Education is the bottom line

Pedro’s Angus doesn’t do much advertising, just one small ad in a journal so buyers can find their contact information easily. Their best advertising is word-of-mouth. They started their best advertising and building their clientele by hosting educational programs at their farm.

“We could see that, by our customers, there was a real need for education in the area,” Bill says.

In the early days, the Roes hosted various animal health programs for surrounding producers. In open house form, they discussed various illnesses, vaccines and even the beef grade with surrounding producers in hopes to build up a basic knowledge.

“We would just say, ‘We are not saying this is right or wrong, but this is what we do,’” Bill says. “That just kept going on and on, and people just would come in.”

The Roes continue to teach this beef knowledge and herd management techniques to visiting buyers.

“Our farm becomes an educational farm for a lot of people,” Bev Roe says. “Bill spends a lot of time with our buyers; he gets to know them.”

The community is no stranger to Pedro’s Angus either. The Roes periodically do farm tours for elementary schools, surrounding communities and the local nursing home.

“That way, the public participates in our operation a little differently,” Bill says. “We just thought we could show our buyers they can still do things in their community.”

The Roes believe if they work hard to continue to better the cattle industry, there will be more sophisticated buyers and better production of beef.

“If our customers are successful, we are successful,” Bill Roe says. “That’s the bottom line.”  end mark

PHOTO 1: Bill and Bev have enjoyed their life in the cattle industry for more than 20 years.

PHOTO 2: Bill drives buyers around the farm so they get to see every aspect of the operation and how bulls are raised. Photos by Jamie Hawley. 

Jamie Hawley is a freelance writer based in Ohio. Email Jamie Hawley

How it all started

Pedro’s Angus started in 1994 when the couple bought a farm and Bev Roe’s parents gave them six Angus pairs. According to Bev, she never thought they would have it this way.

“Bill likes the animals, and he is a businessman,” Bev says. “It was natural for him to sell direct from the farm.”

Bill and Bev got out of the restaurant business in 2005. Prior to that, they supplied Certified Angus Beef to their restaurants. Bev explains that, since they were in the restaurant business before the cattle business, breeding for good beef genetics was natural for them.

“An engineer’s background is problem-solving, and it looked like to me it was just a fun job,” Bill says. “There is no such thing as a perfect bull or perfect cow. I liked the interaction with our buyers and new challenges in genetics because of all the variables.”

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