Raising a winner
Volz family raises champion livestock while mentoring youth
They say once in your lifetime you raise a great one,” Jim Volz says referring to his passion for raising award-winning livestock.
And Jim has been successful in his endeavor. His Charolais bull, EFCC Mister Rome, was a winner at the Sioux Empire Farm Show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was held in January. The award-winning bull was sold to a family in Nebraska.
Jim does not have many animals and says he is fortunate his older brother John allows Jim to keep them on John’s farm.
“John owns the operation west of Elmore where I raise my cattle,” Jim says. “I would not be able to do this without his help. I help him out with some labor and in return he lets me keep my cattle on his farm.”
John, along with his wife Rita, own Volz Farms. Jim, and his wife Shelley, own East Fork Cattle Company. You may also recognize Jim and Shelley as the owners of Twisted Vine Floral, located in Blue Earth, where Jim has been known to play Santa Claus during the Christmas season.
Raising a bull to be a champion was not a simple matter, according to Jim.
“It took me three years to get the semen I wanted from Canada,” Jim explains. “The semen came from a bull who was the Canadian champion and then became the World Champion Charolais bull. We bred a cow that had been bred up from other lines. I think I spent more time than money working on this.”
Jim says many things have changed since his father, also named Jim, brought the first Charolais cattle to the area in the early 1960s.
“Artificial insemination, embryo transplants and in vitro fertilization are commonplace these days,” he commented.
He explained the process for transplanting embryos, which is a non-surgical procedure.
“The embryos are flushed out of the donor cow seven days after fertilization,” Jim explains. “The embryos are then injected in to the recipient cows who are in the same stage of their cycle as the donor. The success rate is about 98.6 percent.”
Success in showing cattle seems to run in the Volz family, along with a love for what they do.“My father started the Charolais Association,” Jim says. “He also had a State Fair champion two years in a row. John also had a champion State Fair Simmental bull five or six years ago. So that is a goal of mine, to have a State Fair champion.”
There is another side to the story of Jim and John Volz, one the brothers are equally passionate about.
They not only work with their livestock, they are mentors to young people who want to show cattle.
“We kind of do it because we both have lost our sons,” Jim says.
They find kids who want to work with cattle, or as Jim says, the kids find them. Four of the young people they have mentored have come from Fairmont.
“John does most of the work,” Jim comments. “So far, nine kids have shown cattle who never would have had the opportunity. The kids come to the farm and do all of the work, including breaking and training the animals.”
The kids learn more than just how to show cattle, according to Jim.
“When they go to a Jr. Nationals they have to compete in three other categories besides showing, such as photography, speaking or a sales contest,” he explains. “But the most important thing is they make lifelong friends.”
Jim says it has been a good experience for the brothers to mentor young people.
“The most important thing is the kids have to want to do it,” Jim shares. “Because then they will put in the work it takes to get the job done. If they have that drive then they will make the effort and so far all of the kids we have mentored have wanted to do the job.”
The young people will show in FFA, 4-H or Junior competitions.
“You can compete in the Junior competitions until you are age 21,” Jim shares. “They can lease their animals using a breeding animal lease program available through 4-H.”
So this operation, which began 60 years ago with Jim and John’s father, has become more than raising champion livestock. It has also become a way for Jim and John to help young people learn about hard work and being committed to a project.
“We both enjoy interacting with the kids. Like I said earlier, John does most of the work,” Jim says. “But we both enjoy seeing them succeed.”