Dentist Finds Niche in Cattle Industry
By Adam Capps, The Farmer's Pride
If you were a patient sitting in Dr. Randy Smoot's dental office you probably wouldn't guess that the man who fixes your smile is also the man who currently owns and cares for the number one ranked Angus bull in America.
"I've been a dentist for 19 years now, but my love for a family and farming led me down a path to create a family business; as a family our passion is cattle," says Smoot. "I'm blessed that I don't require income from farming because of my dental practice, but our desire and love is for building our heard, and it's a lifelong process I hope to pass down."
Smoot and his son, Bradshaw, run Hammerhead Cattle Company with 700 acres of pastureland with 250 head of predominately registered Angus genetics with a small sampling of registered Simmental.
"We named our company Hammerhead because that was my nickname growing up," says Bradshaw.
Bradshaw, admittedly hardheaded at times, is an 18-year-old freshman and member of the livestock judging team at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Oklahoma, but he takes advantage of every break and every chance he has to come back home and work on the farm with his dad.
"Our family loves every aspect of cattle farming and there's a lot of detailed work that goes into it and much of the public is unaware of this," says Smoot.
The Smoots focus on breeding superior genetics, and they pay attention to detail while also focusing on the big picture.
"We extensively use artificial insemination and embryo transfer to improve phenotype, genetics, and geometrics within our herd," says Bradshaw. "We utilize rotational grazing purchasing a limited amount of rolled and big square hay bales and we do our best to participate in the 'best management practices' through the utilization of automatic water feeders/geotextile feeding pads and restricting cattle from entering ponds and waterways."
The end product is something they can always be proud of because they are going about their business in the most responsible way possible.
"We are in the business of raising replacement females and bulls for farmers who are looking to replenish their herd with younger animals with a preferred genetic profile, but we also show our cattle all across the United States each year," says Smoot.
Smoot's youngest daughter, Abby, is a 15-year-old sophomore at Taylor County High School and an officer in FFA. Abby has competed and shown cattle across the East and West Coasts, winning multiple awards including the 2016 KY State Fair Reserve Supreme Champion heifer.
As mentioned earlier, Hammerhead Cattle Company currently owns and exhibits the American Angus Association Roll of Victory (national Angus show scoring system) points leading bull for the 2016-17 season. His name is "Ace."
"Ace came to us as a calf and he's two years old now," says Smoot. "He's our stud (herd sire) and he is used extensively to breed the females of our herd but we plan to use him over the next five to six years and we are aggressively seeking a semen contract with him to sell to producers across the country."
Most of the cattle raised on the Hammerhead farm are eventually sold as replacements, and they estimate that only 25 percent of their herd gets sent for slaughter.
"We are trying to brand our operation as the next great selective breeding farm," says Smoot. "Sixty percent of our buyers are in the replacement operation so it's not an easy business and our management style has to be conservative to weather the storms when prices come down and when producers are reluctant to buy."
On the other hand, when you own animals with highly sought after genetics, sometimes Hammerhead must get rid of some of their stock to produce better cattle down the line.
"Our selection criteria of animals keeps getting higher when the market is low and that's what separates us from the rest and that's what allows us to sell our bulls," says Smoot.
Each year Hammerhead Cattle Company has a spring bull sale in March and this year they are selling six of their bulls for replacement.
"We continue to strive to make our cattle better," says Smoot. "But at the end of the day, this is all about my family and our love for this business."
"We live it and we love building and working on our stock," says Bradshaw. "When I come home, I'm at the farm, that's just what we love to do."
Smoot has two other daughters, Taylor, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in nursing at WKU, and Lauren, a 22-year-old employee at Forcht Bank with a six-month-old son named Rowan. Smoot is hopeful his grandson will grow up and join the family cattle business someday.
Smoot's girlfriend, Stephany Bowen, is also an integral part of the Hammerhead operation.
"She's our biggest fan," says Smoot. "She's so supportive of us and she helps so much during show season; she's a big part of all this too."