By KayDee Gilkey, contributing writer, Western Cowman Magazine, April 2017 Issue
Trinity Farms of Ellensburg, Washington, is a family-owned Simmental and SimAngusTM ranch that was established in the early 1980s. Mike and Paulette Forman and their son Robb began in the purebred Simmental business and a decade later added Angus into their herd to produce both purebred Angus and Sim-based cross bulls for their commercial customers. They purchased the current ranch in 1991, the same year that Robb married Debbie Bartoloc.
Now, 26 years later, Robb and Debbie’s daughters Chelse and Mackenzie have graduated from college, eldest son Chance is pursuing his dream career, and youngest son Colton is in his first year of college. Debbie works for the Kittitas School District. Along with all of his ranch responsibilities, Robb is the manager of MRM Construction, which currently focuses on selling rock products, topsoil and compost.
When it comes to their breeding objectives in their herd Mike shared, “Our emphasis has been to raise moderately framed, sound, functional bulls that will thrive in any environment. Our SimAngus program has become the main focus of our program, and includes the whole gamut of hybrid cattle from 3/4 Simmental X 1/4 Angus, 1/2 bloods, 1/4 Simmental X 3/4 Angus and 1/8 Simmental X 7/8 Angus. Emphasis is placed on using calving ease sires with good birth to yearling growth.”
He continued, “EPDs and carcass data are tools that are relied upon when breeding choices are made. Each year, all the females are synchronized for our timed breeding AI program. Females are AI’d through two heat cycles and then turned out with Trinity herdsires.”
Calves are given all necessary vaccinations at birth, boostered before turning out on grass, and given all necessary shots at weaning. The total cow herd is on a stringent twice-a-year vaccination program. Calves born by sires in their multi-sire pasture groups are all blood typed to confirm parentage. All the bulls in their spring sale are low density tested and parentage is confirmed.
Between owned and leased ground, they farm a little over 1450 acres of irrigated ground. They grow alfalfa and timothy hay which is raised for the export market, and pasture for their cattle, which currently number 500 cows and 150 replacement heifers.
Generations of Excellence Spring Sale
For 15 years their annual production sale, Generations of Excellence, has been held on the ranch the first weekend in March. This year’s sale sold 113 SimAngus and Angus bulls with an average of $5,730 and sold 44 open heifers with an $1,812 average.
As auctioneer Butch Booker said in opening the sale, “There are three priorities for the Forman family that they are absolutely passionate about: Number 1 is family and they value being able to work together; Number 2 is producing strong performance bulls and their third priority is their customers who do business with them.”
In addition to that, Formans are committed to giving back to not only their customers but worthy causes as well.
When Robb and Debbie’s youngest daughter Mackenzie was a freshman in high school, through attending a Relay for Life event, she had a dream of raising $50,000 to help support the American Cancer Society.
Robb and his family brainstormed on how they all could help her attain that goal. It was decided that a heifer would be donated at the beginning of their sale, and all the proceeds would be donated to Relay for Life. Over the next four years, between the yearly heifer donation and other events she participated in, her goal was reached.
Mike explained, “Once Mackenzie graduated and went to college, we decided we’d find another worthy charity to support. We chose the Wounded Warrior Project. The heifer picked for each of the last four years has been donated and with the help of our customers’ generosity, the Wounded Warrior Project has been sent over $72,500. We feel it is important to pay it forward and that is something we will continue to do through our program.”
This year’s donation heifer was sold for $3,750 to Sheldon Ranch in Ellensburg. Following the sale of the heifer, by raising the paddle an additional $8,750 in donations was added from other buyers to go to Wounded Warrior Project.
Robb said, “We feel very blessed to get to do the things that we get do in this country. This is due in part to the freedom our veterans fought for. A lot of our customers are veterans as well so choosing the Wounded Warrior Project has resonated with them. It is an honor to be supporting something that is obviously near and dear to many attending our sale.”
Every December, Trinity Farms participates in the Kittitas County Cattlemen and CattleWomen’s work with the others in the state’s beef industry to help their hungry neighbors in need through the Beef Counts program. Donations received are matched by Agri Beef and beautiful beef roasts are handed out along with breads, vegetables and fruit to needy families.
In addition to giving back to worthwhile causes, Trinity Farms created what they call “bull chits”. Mike said, “If customers purchase bulls at a designated purchase price, they are sent a ‘rebate’ check in the mail. The more bulls purchased, the higher the rebate. Since coming up with this idea of how we can thank our customers, we have returned more than $120,000 in cash rebates.”
They also publicly recognized their repeat customers at their sale with Hall of Fame plaques for those customers who have purchased more than 25 bulls, more than 50 bulls as well as those who have purchased more than 75 bulls throughout the years.
Robb said, “We have several customers that purchased bulls from us even before we began our annual sale. We really value and appreciate those customers who continue to use our bulls to enhance their herds’ genetics. We really appreciate and value the fact that our family has been doing business with our some of customers for several generations. We do not take that for granted.”
Formans have made giving back to the beef industry a priority as well. Robb has been active in the Kittitas County Cattlemen’s Association and held the position of Treasurer for several years. Paulette was president of the Kittitas County CattleWomen for three years, and at one point was named Washington State CattleWoman of the Year in conjunction with Jane Lee from Goldendale. This year, Paulette is once again the President of the KCCW. The Formans were Kittitas County Cattlemen of the Year in 2005. Mike is currently serving his third year as Western Regional Trustee for the American Simmental Association. He is a past president of both the Washington Angus and Washington Simmental Associations.
In addition to their successful performance-based breeding program, Trinity Farms has made giving back a priority — whether it’s the giving back of their talents and time to the beef industry serving in leadership roles, or providing rebates to repeat bull-buying customers or fundraising for worthy causes — making the beef industry better because of their commitment and dedication.
If you’d like to learn more about Trinity Farms, go to www.trinityfarms.info or like them on Facebook.