Farm Horizons, February 2001

Steve Decker: A little piece of Texas north of Waverly

By Lynda Jensen

A little piece of Texas is just north of Waverly, sauntering around an acreage owned by Steve and Susie Decker.

The Deckers breed registered Texas longhorn cattle and own 10 of the animals, including three bulls.

Horns on the animals can get as wide as 70 inches, although the largest that Steve owns has horns that span 50 inches.

The shorter horn span is because of the harsh weather conditions in Minnesota, which cause the animals to grow less horn, Steve said.

However, nature makes up for this by giving them much larger bodies and better builds, Steve said.

"You can see the ribs (on a longhorn cow raised in Texas)," Susie said. "They're puny."

Because of this, Minnesota longhorns are actually preferred by some Texans since their body structure is better, Steve said. "They're all horn or all body," he commented. The trick is to breed them together to get the best of both, he said.

The beef from longhorns tastes better and is lower in cholesterol and fat compared to any traditional cattle breed such as Holstein, Hereford or Charloit, Steve said.

"It's the perfect animal," Susie said.

An average registered longhorn would sell for between $600 to $800. However, Steve has seen the price go for up to $11,000, he said.

The Deckers' biggest bull, Country Traveler, was purchased for $1,200, he said.

"It's where all my money goes," he said.

How did it start? Steve got interested when his friend, Carl Otto of Montrose, mentioned longhorns to him.

Otto owns between 80 to 100 of his own and eventually, sold Steve a calf.

One of Otto's bulls, Cupcake, was named a grand champion in Texas, and sired a number of Steve's calves.

This bloodline helped win numerous ribbons and awards for Steve's longhorns, at several shows.

Most recently, it included first place in non-haltered female, second place for haltered bull and first place for haltered female at a show in Fairmont, Minn., last summer.

Longhorns caught Steve's eye because of their distinctiveness, he said. "They're unique."

Unique is probably the best word to describe other interests that he's had in the past, including raising white tail deer, rare birds, peacocks, turkeys, pheasants, goats and chickens.

Some of the latter animals would be usual for a farm, but Steve has lived in the city with these animals. The chickens and goats were being raised in a trailer court in Montrose years ago, he said.

The family lives out in the country now - and has for more than 20 years -but on a five-acre spot of land called Sunset Ridge. "Just a place to hang your hat," Steve commented.

This allows them to concentrate on the quality of the animal instead of quantity, he said.

Steve's father, Wilford, farmed south of Waverly when he was alive, and Steve's relatives farm now, he said.

Steve left farming, himself, when he was 18 and has worked for the public works department for the City of Wayzata for more than three decades.

The Deckers belong to the North Star Longhorn Association and show their animals about five times a year, around the nation.

Just recently, they returned from the "OK Corral" in Jordan, Minn., where the association had a meeting.

The Deckers have traveled to Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and other places to show. Steve also travels around the midwest to purchase the animals.

At the end of March, the Deckers will be showing their cattle in Salena, Kans.

The family's daughters, Tracy Hausladen, Jody Huston, and Chrissy Hinkemeier, all of Waverly, help to clean and show the animals during these events.

Susie does the paperwork. There is plenty of this when it comes to registering longhorns, she said.

Steve plans to retire in four years, when he will enjoy raising longhorns exclusively, he said.

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