Kay and Cliff White and Holiday Ranch South Polls, LLC has
been a South Poll seed stock supplier since 2004, beginning with
the purchase of our entire foundation herd from Bent Tree
Farms., Ft. Payne, AL.
Holiday Ranch is one of the oldest and largest registered
fullblood South Poll seed stock producer in the United States.
Our genetics are recognized to be among the top in the country.
Holiday Ranch is located in the Florida panhandle less than
30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, home of the acclaimed “World’s
Most Beautiful Beaches”. We live on our 110-acre ranch where we
connect with the cattle every day. Also, we rent a 1400-acre
ranch just a few miles from our headquarters and another
property where we house our herd sires when not breeding cows.
In 2004, we zeroed in on South Poll cattle as the breed for
us. It was a new breed we viewed as a great opportunity to get
in on the ground floor. After contacting Bent Tree Farms, we
learned Teddy Gentry had donated his best young cattle to the
University of Georgia to conduct a research study. After it
completed, Teddy exercised his option to repurchase the cows.
Dave Roberts, Teddy’s herdsman, personally selected 50 young
cows in this group. This purchase was followed in 2005 when Bent
Tree held an on-farm “Quiet Offering” sale. This presented the
opportunity to purchase another group of fantastic South Polls.
The following year, we purchased another group of great heifers
from Bent Tree. Each of our purchases were based on the
recommendations and selections by Dave Roberts who we have to
thank for our good South Poll genetics.
We operate the ranch in an environmentally friendly way. We
maintain a holistic approach to ranching. We are committed to
raising our cattle in harmony with the land. For a number of
years, we have been enrolled in Florida’s Best Management
Practices (BMP) program that focuses on improving soil health,
nutrient recycling, and carbon sequestration. We utilize a
variety of annual plants (warm and cool season) to complement
our perennial Bahia grass permanent pastures. The seed includes
ryegrass, triticale, vetch, oats, brassicas, peas, sun hemp, and
clovers that are inter-seeded into the permanent pasture using a
no-till drill. This practice, coupled with rotational grazing,
has done remarkable things in terms of improving soil fertility,
forage quality and quantity, forage utilization, and
We love our dung beetles! By
minimizing wormers that kill dung beetles we have a healthy
population of dung beetles on the ranch. A cow patty can be
buried in a day by these little creatures. This leads to water
infiltration into their tunnels and fertility by burying manure.
Ranch/Bio-Security, Health, and Breeding:
We work closely with our veterinarian to maintain a sound
overall herd health program. Our goal is to provide quality
healthy genetics for our customers that will provide the best
potential outcomes. Holiday Ranch has rigid health protocols and
as a rule, maintains a closed herd. Occasionally purchased
cattle are quarantined for an appropriate period and disease
tested before being integrated into the herd. We conduct ongoing
whole herd testing for major cattle diseases to insure we have a
clean herd and are selling a healthy product. All animals have
been vaccinated with 10-way vaccine and blackleg. All animals
have been tested for BVD-PI and Johne’s disease at the
appropriate time in their life. To date, all animals have tested
negative for these diseases. We continually retest to assure our
herd is disease free.
Our breeding program includes natural
service, A.I., and line breeding with the goal of animal
consistency. Studies show line breeding increases genetic
concentration and predictability. For this reason, many South
Polls are line bred. In the early days of the breed development
longevity was “built in” to South Polls by using bulls out of
the oldest cows. Our seasoned cows are the real workhorses of
our breeding program. They produce a good calf every year, stay
in good flesh, maintain a good udder and physical structure.
We practice low stress animal handling and insist all our
workers observe this practice. We continually acclimate our
cattle to promote acceptable temperament through human contact
on a regular basis. We treat our cattle with kindness and
respect. After all, we consider them a part of our family.
Our experience has shown South Polls to be unbelievably easy
keepers requiring minimal inputs to maintain good body
In the pursuit of improving our herds genetics,
Holiday Ranch focuses on using the best herd bulls and proven
A.I. sires possible. We pair the sires, both natural service and
A.I., to specific cows that will likely produce the best calves.
We collect DNA maternal and carcass profiles on each replacement
female and herd sire prospect. We use this data to understand
and assess our cattle’s traits. This information aids our herd
improvement objectives without reaching for extremes.
Selection and culling
Our first culling priority is for disposition. If an animal
has a bad disposition, other traits are irrelevant. We will
automatically cull that animal. Period. We focus on factors,
such as, an animals’ reaction to humans in the field, reaction
when restrained in the chute, leaving the chute, and sorting. It
is noteworthy to point out excitable temperament of a sire or
dam is correlated to an excitable temperament in the calf, not
only through genetics but through learned behavior as well. One
bad apple can spoil the whole herd.
In addition to
evaluating a heifer’s dam, we use genomics, physical traits and
overall phenotype selection criteria to build a fertile cow
herd. A dam’s production history is an important factor.
Additionally, we select for females that calve early during the
calving season. This reveals the most fertile cows.
all animals are phenotypically good with a focus on udder
quality. Udder and teat confirmation are moderately heritable.
We do not select replacement heifers or bulls from dams with
marginal udders. We strictly cull for irregular testicles as
well as bad feet and legs in our herd sire prospects.