Two weeks ago, the West Point annual banquet was held under the theme “Our Secrets Revealed.” The idea being that West Point has tons of history and scores of new opportunities for the future.
Aside from our contributions to the arts and being the home of renowned businesses like Southern Ionics and Mossy Oak, West Point is also home to nearly 200 of arguably the best cattle in the state.
Milton Sundbeck, owner of Town Creek Farm and farm manager Ron Flake, spoke to the West Point Rotary Club on Thursday about the operation which originated with a man named Joe Reznicek of Cow Creek Ranch near Aliceville years ago.
Long before Sundbeck met Reznicek, Sundbeck was exposed to the cattle industry growing up in Texas. Sundbeck said that today there are fewer cattle in America than in 1950, which has led to a rise in value for cattle.
“It’s a great time to be in the business,” Sundbeck said. “People are always going to eat beef, and we’re trying to develop the kind of cattle that the people in commercial businesses want to buy.”
Sundbeck forged a partnership with Reznicek that lasted until his death in 2008. Determined to keep alive Reznicek’s innovative spirit in regards to cattle genetics, Sundbeck bought some of his best stock and began Town Creek.
“Joe Reznicek was a pioneer, and he was a dreamer,” Flake said during a portion of the program. “He was not scared to try different things.”
Flake said that Reznicek worked with about four different bloodlines over the years, attempting to produce the best quality cattle in the world.
Sundbeck says that like anything in life, producing good cattle requires balance.
“One of the things a cattleman wants is low birth weights, but you also want the cattle to grow to a heavy weight,” Sundbeck said.
Sundbeck says that 80 pounds is the ideal birth weight for a calf. Anything higher is subject to cause birthing problems.
207 days later, the specimen needs to weigh in at around 700 pounds.
Sundbeck says that those data points are important, but many cattlemen lose sight of the most crucial thing when it comes to breeding cows.
“Many lose sight of fertility,” Sundbeck said. “You’ve got to have a female that is going to have a calf every year and have about 15 calves in her lifetime. If you don’t have productive females, you’re not getting anywhere.”
On October 19, 2013, Sundbeck and Town Creek will host its first bull sale, which will feature 150 Town Creek Farm Brangus and Ultrablack Bulls. The sale will take place using video to feature the cattle.
The bulls that will be auctioned are raised and fed on mostly a forage-based diet. 75 percent of what the cattle eat at Town Creek is ground hay, not corn which is often fed to cattle.
The West Point cattle business will continue to expand and add more jobs for the county. Sundbeck says that there will be a heifer sale perhaps in the spring of 2014.
Right now the focus will be getting things ready for the big bull sale in October.