A Denver to Remember – Simmentals on The Hill
By Gabrielle Glenister
Many people dream of judging at the National Western Stock Show. Even fewer get the chance, let alone more than once. Marshall Ruble is doing just that. Having previously evaluated the Texas Longhorns on Humboldt Street, Ruble will be welcomed back as Simmentals take center stage in Stadium Arena.
A native of the Hawkeye State, Ruble has made his home in Ames for the past 37 years. Currently, he is the manager of the Iowa State University Beef Teaching Farm. The farm has been the home of Angus cattle since 1896, and Simmentals since the early 1980’s. The beef teaching station provides cattle for undergraduate studies at Iowa State. Many students reap great rewards from learning hands-on, rather than in a classroom. The University’s closed herd consists of a fall-calving SimAngus™ herd, and spring-calving purebred Angus and Simmentals. Females are bred using artificial insemination technology, a process deemed profitable for anyone who uses it. Artificial insemination isn’t the only reproductive enrichment pursued by the University to propel its herd into the future. Embryo transfer has been performed on the SimAngus™ herd for the past couple of years. Without hesitation, Ruble explains his trust in the program and hopes that it will continue to grow in the future.
Cardinal and gold shine bright in the Ruble household. The Iowa State employee is also a Cyclone alumnus. Ruble attended Grayson College as a freshman and sophomore, and Iowa State University as a junior and senior. In 1978, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science, while focusing on the beef industry.
Ruble is active on campus, providing students immense opportunities for personal, professional, and educational growth. Recently, the Iowa State campus completed new construction of the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agricultural Learning Center. As the building manager, Ruble is proud to increase agricultural incentives for students, as well as the community. The facility hosts numerous events throughout the year, including Block and Bridle Club activities. With the new agricultural center, Ruble hopes to increase awareness of Iowa State’s assets, and the agriculture community.
In addition to managing the Beef Teaching Farm and the Agricultural Learning Center, Ruble is active in the classroom. Skilled in reproductive and calving management, he can be found instructing students in a few animal science courses. With a 102% live calving rate at Iowa State, it is safe to say that he is immensely qualified to teach these classes. In part due to his success in the calving barn, Ruble is credited with the invention of the CalfScale™ tape. He is excited to report recent sales to Germany, Austria, Australia, and Africa.
The Ruble family has garnered tremendous success in the cattle industry. Mr. Ruble and his wife, Patricia, have created a Simmental herd worthy of recognition. The farm is home to ten cows that are pastured at the main residence. Marshall and Patricia’s two sons grew up showing cattle in 4-H and the Junior Simmental Association. Jeremie is now a managing partner at Ruble Cattle Services in Corydon, Iowa, where he lives with his wife, Nicole, and their young daughter. Readers might remember Jeremie from his days working for the American Simmental Association as the Eastern Field Representative. Sam is the Beef Production Specialist at Farmers Co-Op Society and resides in Orange City, Iowa, with his wife, Lindsay, and their young son and daughter. Lindsay works part-time with the calf team at Trans Ova Genetics’ headquarters in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Judging the purebred and percentage Simmental cattle on The Hill at the National Western Stock Show has always been a dream of Ruble’s. “If there was one show I would choose to judge, it would be Denver,” he says. He goes on to describe the show as having a nostalgic feel with good cattle, good cowboys, and good cowgirls.
To him, the Simmental breed fits the cattle industry so well. Ruble clarifies that Simmentals are moderate cattle that still have grow in them. When sorting cattle, he looks for those moderate cattle to be super sound, having a good foot and leg, while also being flexible in their structure. Ruble says, “The girls need to look like girls, and the boys need to look like boys.”
Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) have become a huge factor in both commercial cattle and show cattle. Ruble says, “I’ll use EPD’s as a base when selecting and sorting.” He goes on to say that, “Ideally, I will pick cattle that I like to look at and that have great EPDs.” If it comes down to a tight race between two cattle, he will pick the animal with better EPDs to win.
Ruble’s associate judge will be Dr. Brad Skaar. Together they will integrate EPDs into the show ring by first looking at the Direct Calving Ease EPD. Additionally, they will look at how the cattle compare to the breed average for specific EPDs. By using EPD’s as a positive tool, Ruble hopes to judge the show according to how the animals look on paper and in person. He believes that EPDs will continue being used in the show ring. However, Ruble’s one hundred dollar question is how the All-Purpose Index (API) will also become more viable when evaluating Simmental cattle at shows.
The 2015 National Western judge credits the American Simmental Association with creating outstanding educational programs and focusing on science-based activities. He goes on to say that the American Junior Simmental Association is a tremendous asset to the cattle industry. Some of his favorite memories are teaching his sons responsibility by raising their own cattle. “Seeing newborn baby calves running around in the springtime is the best picture ever,” Ruble says. He wants other families to enjoy the same moments on their own farm. Whether you have Purebred or Percentage Simmentals, the breed, as a whole, is on the move.
For Ruble, the Percentage Simmental program makes sense. A SimAngus™ is the ideal cow. He proclaims that the best steak he has ever eaten was produced from a SimAngus™ steer; he could simply cut it with a fork. He believes it is essential to the future success of the Simmental breed to maintain heterosis. Although the Simmental shows remain separate, he sees the industry coming closer together. Ruble makes a great point by saying that Simmental breeders should produce cattle to fit the consumer’s need. Simmentals do just that.
Ruble sees continued growth within the American Simmental Association. He is excited about the opportunity to judge a breed so close to his heart. This month Marshall Ruble will be in the limelight at the National Western Stock Show. Ruble expressed his desire to talk through entire classes, if possible. “It is important for people to understand what you’re looking at when you’re looking at it,” he remarks.
You can see why the Colorado Simmental Association has entrusted Marshall Ruble with the task of evaluating the world’s best Simmental cattle at the Super Bowl of Cattle Shows. He displays pure passion for the industry.