Kansas-raised cattle are reaching an international market, thanks in part to Mushrush Red Angus in Strong City.
Daniel Mushrush and his family have been raising Red Angus beef cattle on their ranch since the mid-1980s, and Mushrush recently took part in his third trip to Argentina with the Kansas Department of Agriculture to strengthen the state’s relationship with South American ranchers.
“I learned Spanish in college and technology like Facebook and WhatsApp have made it so easy to communicate with people in other countries,” Mushrush says. “We’ve had half a dozen groups from Argentina come visit our cattle ranch, as well as visitors from Brazil, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine. Then they go back to Argentina and tell people about us. Our Red Angus cattle really fit well with their system, so our relationship with them has been a natural fit.”
Mushrush Red Angus
The Mushrush family has been farming in Chase County since the Civil War, when Daniel Mushrush’s great-great-great grandfather received the land for his military service. Today, the ranch has four generations working and living on it, including Daniel’s grandfather, Bob Mushrush; his parents, Joe and Connie Mushrush; brother Chris Mushrush; and Daniel and his wife, Christine. Daniel and Christine have four children – Sadie (8), Bella (6), Kate (3) and Eli (18 months). The family’s enterprise currently consists of 750 registered Red Angus cows split between spring and fall calving herds, though the number fluctuates throughout the year due to sales.
Genetics plays a big role in the success of Mushrush Red Angus.
“Just like you see ads on TV where you can map your ancestry and try to determine where you got a peanut allergy, we can do an even better job raising cattle with less money by investing in genetics,” Mushrush explains. “We pull DNA on every calf, and that tells us about traits that could cost or make a livestock producer money, such as marbling. Genetics are getting better and allow us to determine which animal is going to be the best for what we need to do. We’ve also done embryo work, and even though embryos are microscopic, we can tell what sex they will be.”
The Mushrushes don’t rely on genetics alone, though.
“You still have to take birth weights and measure everything to ensure accuracy,” Mushrush says. “Some people think genetics will tell you everything, but if you pull genetics without taking measurements, it’s like paying your bills on a credit card with no money to pay for it. We take 13 individual measurements on each animal to make sure they are accurately described and reproduced. We also use ultrasound to measure rib eyes and marbling.”
The Mushrushes like to deliver their own bulls to customers, and it’s common for Mushrush to put more than 12,000 miles on his pickup and trailer every April following their spring sale.
“We’re usually in three or four states per week, and we’ve sold our animals to buyers in 17 states,” he says. “The challenge of raising Red Angus cattle is incredible, and we truly get rewarded for the good decisions we make.”
Though their operation may seem high-tech, the Mushrushes take a mostly hands-off approach when it comes to the day-to-day life of their cows.
“We keep them in large pastures, and we don’t even assist with the birth of the calves,” he says. “We find the less that we mess with the cows, the fewer problems we have. I do check on them once a day and weigh and tag them at birth. In our busy season, we may have 30 calves per day. It often shocks people that we don’t baby our calves – we let them be.”
The Red Angus breed was designed for such a lifestyle.
“On every cattle operation, either the cattle work for the people, or the people work for the cattle,” Mushrush says. “To be profitable, you must put yourself in a situation where the cattle work for you. Red Angus is a moderate, blue-collar animal with no fuss, flash or glitz. If we had a different breed, we wouldn’t be able to do it this way.”
Twenty years from now, Mushrush says he hopes Mushrush Red Angus will be even more advanced technologically.
“I think in 20 years, I’ll be able to get on my smartphone and tell you what each cow weighed yesterday because she weighed herself out in the pasture,” he says. “We try to be very forward-thinking ranchers, and that’s a great place to be.”