As a bank executive, Wendell Gibbs of Ranburne, Ala., raised beef cattle on a part-time basis. After retiring from banking in 1988, he became a full time cattle producer and eveloped a premier beef seed stock operation featuring
Simmental and Angus breeds. His bulls have sired calves in every
state of the U.S. and in five other countries.
He has made a nice living for his family by marketing his animals
and genetic resources to cattle producers who are looking to improve
their herds. He specializes in SimAngus cattle, a hybrid combination
that is highly sought after by commercial beef producers, feedlot
operators, and ultimately by American consumers.
His success as a beef cattle producer has led to him being
selected as the state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt
Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other
individuals as finalists for the overall award to be announced
Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Sunbelt Expo.
As a child, Gibbs grew up on a farm that produced cotton. His
father owned a feed mill and was an integrated poultry producer
in an era before the poultry industry became fully integrated.
Now himself a farmer for 55 years, Gibbs started with 40 acres.
On land in both Georgia and Alabama, his operation today
encompasses about 1,750 acres, with 1,000 acres of rented land
and 750 acres of family owned land. He also has a 300 acre custom
grazing operation in Mississippi.
In addition to cattle, he also grows hybrid bermudagrass hay and
timber. There is about 170 acres of hybrid bermudagrass hay of the
Russell and Tifton 44 varieties. He has about 70 acres of timber.
The beef enterprises include about 830 cows in his seed stock
herd, which consists of an about equal number of Simmental,
Angus, and SimAngus cows. SimAngus has evolved into a
hybrid cross that is preferred by both cattle feeders and meat
packers. Both Simmental and Angus are considered to be top
maternal breeds. The Angus breeding contributes marbling,
while the Simmental provides muscling. Simmental also tends
to produce less
in an overall
the carcass quality.
Gibbs also furnishes semen and stud services from 32 herd
sires. Semen from his bulls is marketed by some of the top
providers of artificial insemination services, including ABS
Global (formerly American Breeders Service), Select Sires, Genex
Cooperative, and ORIgen.
He develops replacement bulls and heifers and he sells bred
heifers and young cows, along with semen and embryos. He also
retains ownership of feeder cattle that are finished in Kansas
feedlots. He holds an annual production sale each November in a
modern sale barn and cattle working facility, and sells additional
bulls by private treaty.
Gibbs Farms collects carcass ultrasound information,
DNA testing, and other extensive data on Expected Progeny
Di;erences (EPD’s), and uses the latest technology in artificial
insemination, embryo transfer, and estrus synchronization. A
special 225-acre heifer development complex features a new barn
and cattle working facilities.
By retaining ownership of his feedlot cattle, Gibbs is able to
gather extensive carcass data that paints a more complete picture
of the genetic contributions of the bulls and cows in his herd.
He views retained ownership as he would a mutual fund stock
investment — it makes money most years, though losses are also
possible. Retained ownership provides good returns over a 10-
year period, he says.
Extensive culling takes place before the cattle are sold to
customers. Culling is based on performance data, along with strict
standards for disposition and structural soundness.
Wendell D. Gibbs and wife Nan, top, and
Wendell Gibbs and David Farnsworth, who nominated Wendell for the Farmer of the Year award.
Alabama’s Wendell Gibbs:
From banking to cattleman