A local couple, but one with worldwide experience in the show ring, recently won the champion female and premier exhibitor awards at the 2013 Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield for one of their Brahman cattle, just the latest in a long line of championship trophies on the shelves at their ranch office in Steelville.
Dean and Phyllis Galbraith are ranching in Steelville on the place that was started in 1958 by Phyllis’ parents, Lois and the late Marvin Dicus. The Dicuses started with 13 acres of wooded land and first raised hogs, but in the late 1960s got into Brahman cattle. From their crossbreed program, they produced bucking bulls for the H-C Rodeo company that bucked all over the Midwest and at Madison Square Garden in 1980.
The couple had one child, daughter Phyllis, who met her husband Dean at the School of the Ozarks in Branson. Lois worked for 39 years as a teacher and then became Crawford County Public Administrator. Marvin was a school bus driver. The two were involved in the formation of the Ozark Trail Blazers, too.
After college, the Galbraiths struck out on their own, creating their cattle service business 25 years ago. Their business offered a variety of services related to the cattle industry, including showing, breeding, consulting, and providing transportation. Their main location was a ranch in South Texas, which they still operate on a daily basis.
“We developed our business over the years into a pretty substantial business on both the national and international level,” Dean said. “We won 27 national or international titles over a 10-year period in four different beef breeds.”
But, in 2003, Dean broke his neck, and that shut down the business. The couple moved to Steelville full-time and found a surgeon who was able to repair the damage to his vertebrae. After about four or five years of recuperating, the couple decided to get back into ranching.
The two named the Steelville ranch “ML Dicus Ranch,” in honor of Phyllis’ parents—the ones who started the whole thing. And, they have rebuilt their business to the point of once again dealing on the national and international levels with cattle. “We have cattle scattered from South Texas to Wyoming,” Dean said.
And they’ve been able to rebuild their business due in large part to Dean’s talent in the field. “He knows at birth which ones are good,” Phyllis said. “He has an eye—a gift. He’s always been able to see the phenotype.” Because of that talent, he is in demand as a consultant for other breeders. He can help them know which cattle to focus time and energy on.
The Galbraiths focus on the Bos indicus, or Brahman-influence breeds of cattle. Dean explained these breeds are heat tolerant, and can thrive in less than perfect conditions, unlike some other breeds. “We’re very involved in Brahman genetics around the world,” he said.
Dean noted that many in the cattle industry are trend-followers—going along with whatever breed others seem to be focused on, but he and Phyllis are trend-setters—showing how different genetics from the more standard Bos taurus (Angus, Hereford, etc.) breeds can be beneficial to those in the industry around the nation and on the local level. “We’re the only people that deal with Brahman-influence cattle in this part of the world on a common, everyday basis,” he said. There has been a bias against Brahman cattle in the American industry, but now that is turning as producers are looking for more pounds, cattle that can thrive on fescue grass, and ones that don’t mind the heat.
“Over half of the cattle in the world have Brahman influence,” Dean said. “And they are very adaptive to the climate here and the fescue grass. The best thing about breeding to a Brahman influence animal is the heterosis that occurs when you cross two breeds. It produces bigger weaning rates—an average of 40 to 50 pounds more per animal. It’s the best all-natural way to increase that weight.”
The heifer who recently won the Ozark Empire Fair, MLD Miss Firecracker 116Z, will show on the national and international levels and then will be utilized for embryo transfer work which will sell around the globe. The Galbraiths are currently working on facilities at their Steelville ranch to be able to do their own embryo work on site. Embryos from a registered cow such as this heifer are flushed, fertilized with semen from a donor bull, and implanted into a surrogate cow (usually one Dean described as a “commercial” cow). In addition to the embryo work, their ranch also sells semen from a number of registered bulls.
“Our biggest market is in Latin and South America,” Dean said. “That is where our biggest embryo and semen market is at.” The ranch is also involved in shipping Angus genetics to Russia.
They keep their show cattle at the ranch in Steelville during the warm weather months, and transport them to Texas in the winter for the international shows. “We develop them here and work them into our show team in Texas,” Dean said.
While the Galbraiths have been working to rebuild their own cattle business, focusing both on service and sustainability, they also want to reach out to local youth to share their expertise in the cattle business, especially in connection with showing the animals. “We have a show barn,” Dean said. “Kids who are interested in breeding heifers can start here—we want to help them learn. We want to help them if they have a real interest.” He pointed out that their expertise and clientele would be beneficial to young people looking to get started in the business.
Dean himself was “raised in a junior cattle organization from ‘Podunk’ Missouri,” so he knows what it’s like to start out in the showing business as a youth. “I started showing heifers in 1975. In a class of one, I took second. I started at the bottom, but I’ve had a lot of great influences, great teachers.” The Galbraiths want to pass that gift on to the next generation. “We can give them a head start and help them compete and win,” Dean said. He noted that there are a number of scholarships available to kids that show cattle, in addition to premium money from winning those shows.
Along with cattle, the couple raises and trains cattle dogs—and are currently working with a McNab Cattle Dog—a new breed to them, and one with which they are very impressed. They also raise cutting horses and Redbone Coonhounds.
They welcome visitors to the ranch and hope to host a field day sometime next spring for interested parties. In the meantime, they’d love to hear from 4-H or FFA members who would like to be involved with raising heifers, or from local farmers and ranchers who are interested in bulls, commercial females, or consulting services. “We can show them ways to make money with cattle,” Dean said.
To contact the Galbraiths, call (573) 775-3366. Although the ranch does some online marketing, Dean noted, “I’m still old-school. I dial people on the phone.” But he added that they were looking to get involved in social media to further their business.