Walking into the Leonard’s house there are two things that become evident very quickly – Mark Leonard loves Limousin cattle and loves Civil War history.
It’s not often you meet a breeder who has been in the Limousin breed for 50 years – Leonard Limousin is one of the oldest in the breed. They have seen the ups and downs and are still determined to bring out the best qualities that the breed has to offer.
Mark’s father bought some semen from Décor, a bull that was exported after Prince Pompadour, in 1969 and that started them off in the Limousin business. Once those first set of calves hit the ground in 1970, there was no turning back. The Leonard’s use to raise some Angus, Charolais and Hereford cows, but made a full switch to Limousin; much to his wife’s dismay, who grew up on raising and showing Angus. Mark commented that “Limousin have a total package and do more things right as a whole than other breeds.” Sheryl, his wife, brought over some Angus cattle, but it is clear after a few minutes of talking with him, Mark is all about Limousin.
While you don’t see Leonard Limousin at NALJA events anymore, Mark was part of the founding group of five junior members who initially organized North American Limousin Junior Association (NALJA) and wrote the constitution and by-laws for NALJA. He served as the NALJA board secretary and then as president when the first junior national heifer show was organized in 1976 in Des Moines, Iowa. Mark was very involved in the show side for a long time and had many champions walk through the ring. His children showed cattle and for 20 years, he took pens to Denver for the National Western Stock Show. With the kids out of the house and one full-time employee, they haven’t been able to keep up with the show side of the business, but that doesn’t take away from his love for the cattle he raises.
Although Mark “accidently” became a banker in the 90’s, his passion still remains in the cattle business. When asked what he is trying to achieve here, Mark replied, “to make cattle that are correct and then for them to be better than any others.” His theory is that there are specific non-negotiables when creating cattle; structurally sound, great disposition, easy calving, calve every year, and good feet, but then after that the number one thing he is looking for is growth. His “everything is paid by the pound” mentality makes Leonard Limousin strive for good muscling and good growth more than anything else.
Mark doesn’t mind creating some hybrid vigor in his cattle, but he will only put a Limousin bull on an Angus cow to do so. He says there is “no point bringing down Limousin cattle when you can use the good mothering ability of the Angus and create a better calve for her with the Limousin genetics.” Because of space, Leonard can only keep so many cows. He comes with the philosophy that the calves being raised should be better than the cows that raised them. He doesn’t like to sell heifers and keep back cows, so when the time comes to pick, he will keep the heifers and cull the older cows.
Leonard is all about the data and EPDs. He keeps all his calves until yearling weight in order to increase his data. And EVERY calf gets data sent in because he believes that the whole herd being reported on will give a more accurate sense of his herd. The bulls and heifers that don’t make the cut for breeding will be shipped off at that point. As mentioned before, Leonard is a big proponent for the growth of cattle. He wants them to be easy calving (where he doesn’t own a calf jack because he hasn’t needed it in 20 years), but also be able to put on the pounds. Another aspect of that is feed efficiency. He independently tests every bull that is sold for feed conversion, because as we all know, feeding and nutrition is one of the biggest costs of an operation. “There is more than $200 per animal difference in feed costs between the most efficient and least efficient animals in a 6-month feedlot environment without any difference in ADG,” states Mark. Leonard Limousin sees the benefit to their bottom line with getting growthy cattle at an efficient rate.
This long-time Limousin operation doesn’t have a big bull sale every year. They sell about 100 bulls annually by private treaty. They also sell females private treaty as Mark makes a point that, “the cows we sell each year are not really culls, but anytime I castrate a bull calf, I sell his mother to make room for the replacement heifers we keep back. We breed about 275 females each year, sell around 75 of them and keep similar number of replacement heifers.” Both Angus and Limousin bulls are for sale and with a smile, Mark comments that the Limousin bulls get sold better than the Angus bulls. Even if someone is coming for an Angus bull, a lot of times they leave with a Limousin bull. With having a full-time job, Leonard just doesn’t have time to get all the bulls ready for a big sale, plus he enjoys giving people all the information and time they need to make the best decision for their herd. As Mark says, “when your buyers make money, you make more money”, which seems to be evident with how many people he has coming back every year to buy bulls from them. Every now and then they will sell a yearling bull, but Leonard likes to stick with the two-year old bulls as they “have less problems once out breeding.”
Honor, family and cattle are what makes Leonard Limousin an operation you can trust and depend on. Roots run deep here as they continue to thrive.
Limousin cattle deliver to your bottom line. With superior genetics, a simple crossbreeding plan and state-of-the-art selection tools, the Limousin breed will serve profit-minded cow/calf producers. In today’s competitive markets, taking advantage of all available opportunities is key. The Limousin breed offers a variety of options from Fullblood to Purebred to the Lim-Flex® hybrid (Limousin x Angus cross) to match your program’s needs and market goals. Crossbreeding for the right blend of muscle, maternal ability and profit is easy with Limousin seedstock.