Top Story, June 15, 2013
Miniature Herefords a big business with Vogels
By SEAN CLOUGHERTY
JACKSON — Jeff and Diane Vogel wanted to keep Jeff’s father’s farm going but they also knew they had to downsize to make it work.
At 60 acres, the Jackson Township farm in Ocean County wasn’t the land base of they had to shrink, it was kind of cattle they were going to raise.
Jeff’s father, Roger Vogel raised Hereford cattle for years while operating a trucking and excavation business.
After Roger died in 2006, Jeff and Diane, who bought the business in 1993, wanted to keep raising cattle but were leery about working with large Herefords.
Jeff said a photo that hangs in their office of his father with Gladstone, a 3,600 pound bull is constant reminder of how “large and in-charge” cattle can be.
Their solution: Miniature Herefords, which are about 30 to 50 percent of the size of their modern counterparts.
“With these little guys, they’re easier to handle for sure,” Jeff said walking through the pens with Diane and their son Jeffery.
Along with working with a smaller animal, miniature Herefords are promoted for needing less grazing area and feed and with their docile nature an option for kids to work with and care for.
In 2008, the couple bought one bull and six cows from miniature Hereford breeders Randi and Jeremy Miller in New York to start their herd.
As the only registered breeders in New Jersey, the Vogels said they wanted to raise their own beef for their family and hope to create a niche market for the smaller-framed cattle as breeding stock and marketing the steers for beef.
“You can’t believe the taste and difference in the meat,” Jeff said. “We gave some steaks to a chef we know. He said he’s ate marshmallows that were tougher.”
Now, the herd of about 20 is mostly grass fed, supplemented with a small amount of grain. The Vogels also grow their own hay on the farm.
“I’d like to see it where we can have 15-20 head a year for sale,” Jeff said.
Thought Jeff worked with his father’s cattle some, he said they had a lot to learn once they got some of their own.
They said their veterinarian, Dr. Jonathan Bergman has been a big help, especially with calving, and talking with breeders around the country has helped.
“This is still new to us and we treat them as pets so we have to be careful,” Diane said, passing out treats to a few of the cattle.
Jeff and son Jeffery, who works in the family business, RWV Land and Livestock South, agree that Diane is the most adamant about animal care. She rarely misses a day of scraping out the stalls and sheds for the cattle and brushing them down.
“They might be a little spoiled,” Jeff said with a grin.
But when there’s an interested buyer for an animal or the freezer nears empty, it’s all business, Jeff said.
“We have people lined up waiting to buy our babies,” he said. “A lot of people who expressed interest were people who bought from my father.”