Josef and Mercedes Barbi, owners of Royal Farms of Kansas.
Josef and Mercedes Barbi, owners of Royal Farms of Kansas.

"I was born in a Fleckvieh cow barn in Austria," Josef Barbi, co-owner of Royal Farms of Kansas said jokingly, referencing a line in a press release from his farm.

It was an eventful afternoon for Barbi, his wife Mercedes, and farmhands as they moved their cattle to be shipped to Mexico for genetic breeding.

Royal Farms is known for specializing in producing full-blooded Fleckvieh genetics, which are the "most versatile breed of cattle in the world," according to Barbi.

In 1991, the Barbis purchased the original Royal Farms of Kansas Dairy and Crop farm and transformed it into a genetic and production facility. Royal Farms began with purebred Simmental and Simbrah cattle with artificial insemination and embryo transfer for over 20 years, and has since grown in size to include three farms in Montgomery County. 

"We were the first to do embryo transfers in Kansas, 15 to 20 years ago," said Barbi.  

He added that all of the cattle are given a pre-immunization program prior to shipping and that the survival rate is 100 percent. The cattle will be immune to the high infestation of ticks in that area of Mexico that they are being shipped. 

"We have had no problems with our cattle in the tropics," said Barbi. "Our cattle, on all three of our farms, are completely free of any disease that would prevent them from being shipped to other countries. The real problem is that in some of these countries that America ships cattle to want not only the farms to be disease free, but also the state free of diseases. There are only three or four states that are totally free of disease and those have very few cattle."

He noted that in order for Royal Farms of Kansas to ship to some of these countries that demand states to be free of disease, he would have to ship to states that are free of disease and keep his cattle there for a period of time before shipping the cattle from that state. 

One of the biggest problems that they encounter is when they buy at an auction, they must perform all the testing after purchase of the cattle to determine if the cattle have any problems. 

"If they do have problems, we have to sell them. Our farms must remain completely free of any disease. That is a very difficult problem. We always ask the sellers if we can test first before we buy the cattle. We are always told no. It makes it difficult on our investment," said Barbi.

Recently, he and his wife prepared two tractor-trailer loads of 91 head of full-blooded Fleckvieh cattle, heifers and cows, Spring-bred heifers, open heifers, young calves, herd bulls and young bulls for delivery to a buyer in Mexico. 

"The Fleckvieh breed is a versatile animal that is used for dual purposes. In Europe, we use them for both milk and meat. In America, we only use them for meat. The cows produce a lot of milk and because the mother gives a lot of milk, we wean a calf at 205 days and at 550 pounds. They grow rapidly because of this as there's no need for extra feeding," said Barbi.  

The Fleckvieh breed originated in Austria, Bavaria-Germany and Switzerland. 

"An excellent performance testing system and a strict breeding program has been developed, using worldwide genetics and data programs for this triple-purpose animal with milk, meat, and draught capabilities, and cross breeding. The breeding performance of Fleckvieh is characterized by high productivity, a high conception rate, short inter-calving periods and a high percentage of twin birth producing high calving percentage," said a farmhand spokesperson.

Josef Barbi was born in Austria after the second World War. He grew up knowing the characteristics and values of the Fleckvieh breed. It was through this knowledge that led him to bring this breed of cattle to this part of the country.  

In the past, Royal Farms has exported Simmental and Simbrah cattle to several countries for breeding purposes. These cattle will be used for breeding and genetic stock to start a new herd of Fleckvieh cattle in Mexico.  

Royal Farms of Kansas is located near the junction of highways 160 and 169, east of Independence. The ranch is managed by Zane Mozingo and ranch assistant manager, Shawn Long. The cattle breed is full blooded Fleckvieh, their genetics being exported to Mexico for  breeding purposes. 

"This is the first time that we have exported the Fleckvieh to Mexico," said Barbi.