A Look at the Bucking Bull Breeding Industry

The bucking bull breeding industry has seen tremendous growth since it became organized by world renowned rodeo announcer Bob Tallman in the late 1990’s.  With a vision for giving the industry credibility and a chance to grow into a bonafied business, Tallman created the Rodeo Stock Registry of North America (RSR).   The RSR was a genetic DNA database that would prove parentage and track offspring sired by some of the most notable bucking bulls in the rodeo and bull riding world.  Tallman went on to create a competitive organization called Buckers, Inc that gave these genetically engineered athletes an opportunity to create a financial return for their owners by competing in organized competitions and earning big money.

Bob Tallman, founder of the Rodeo Stock Registry. File Photo.

“Bob Tallman literally created an industry by introducing DNA testing and organized competitions for bucking bulls,” stated Randy Schmutz, general manager of the United Bucking Bulls, Inc (UBBI).  “His ideas and thinking were questioned and highly criticized by many, but he stuck to it.  It’s because of Tallman that we have what we call the ‘bucking bull breeding industry’ today!  Looking back, I was one of those who was not very optimistic, but I really loved bucking bulls and my wife Amber and I joined Bob’s organization.  As a matter of fact, we were the 26th member of the original RSR and have been involved in this business since it started!”

In 2003, Tallman met with the management of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), and a deal was made to sell the RSR database, which became the American Bucking Bulls, Inc (ABBI).

Big Deal owned by D&H Cattle winning first ABBI Classic World Championship. Photo by Andy Watson.

PBR stock contractors and those interested in the future of the bucking bull breeding industry were asked to invest.  Several stock contractors and bull breeders invested thousands of dollars and those investments were matched by the PBR and the first ABBI Finals was held the following year (2004) in Las Vegas.

With widespread popularity, the bucking bull breeding business grew and expanded with organized livestock sales offering DNA parent verified bulls and females to those who wanted to get in on this exciting sport.  The industry experienced record sales and event purses got bigger and the number of people who wanted to participate grew with leaps and bounds.  By 2005, the industry was growing so fast that a group of breeders decided to expand and created the National Bucking Bull Association (NBBA).  This organization, led by Marty & Michelle Foutch and several notable breeders, gave participants an opportunity to compete in additional organized competitions.

Teague Bucking Bull Sale produced by looksWEST Productions. File Photo.

For 15 years, the bucking bull breeding world has developed, changed and adapted but still continues to re-invent itself and sustain a presence in the ‘Western World’.  In October of 2010, Jerry Nelson and Jimmy Ray who are partners in Frontier Rodeo Company, along with Randy Schmutz decided to offer breeders more opportunities to compete with their bulls and started the United Bucking Bulls, Inc (UBBI).

“We just wanted to put something together that was simple and easy to understand for everybody who invested time and money into their bulls and come compete,” stated Nelson.  “We didn’t care if the bulls were registered or not, we just wanted to have something fun for everybody.”

The UBBI created an organization that did not require bulls to be registered with the ABBI to compete.  It also offered assistance to members who did not have their bulls age verified and set lower entry fees.

Randy Schmutz said, “I’m a strong supporter of DNA parent verification.  I believe it was and still is the foundation of the bucking bull breeding industry.  It adds value to the bulls and females and the UBBI has always encouraged it’s members to register their cattle and to make them eligible to compete for money at any and every level.  There are some that do not wish to register their cattle and the UBBI offers them a place to compete.”

For the past two years, the UBBI has hosted events in 19 different states and currently has just over 1000 recorded members.  The UBBI has hosted two consecutive year-end finals and in 2011 and 2012 paid out just over $1 million dollars each year in prize money and awards during it’s regular season events and year-end finals.

2012 UBBI National Finals Awards. Photo by Gautreau.

“We felt like the lower entry fees and not requiring you bulls to be registered has allowed the UBBI to grow like it has,” commented Jimmy Ray, co-owner of the UBBI.  “But even though we’ve got lower entry fees, we still have the same expenses to put on an event as if we had a $1000 entry fee.”

Entry fees and how much is going into the purse and how much is going to producing the events has always been a “hot” topic.  Every participant at any bucking bull competition wants to see more of the entry fee in the pay-out.

“It’s always a question. . . . .how much are you taking out of the fees?”, stated Schmutz.  “The UBBI has always been up front and transparent and we do not hide anything we do regarding entry fees or production drag.  The bottom line is there is a cost and an expense to sustain an office that manages quality events, rents venues to host these events, provides or rents arenas and housing pens and pays for labor and added money to the bull riders to produce these events.  Those costs are static no matter if the entry fee is $450 or $900.  If it takes 50% of the entry fee to manage our office, rent buildings and provide arenas, pens and labor that’s what we have to do.  We feel that the member gets great value for that 50% from the UBBI when we provide them with a quality experience with organized events, monitored judging, arenas that are set-up right and labor that knows what they are doing.”

During the first year in 2011 the UBBI entry fee for a Futurity was $400.  The UBBI subtracted a $10 office fee, a 25% production fee ($100) and a $50 Awards Fund Fee.  There was $240 (60%) going to the pay-out and $160 (40%) going to the office, production and awards fund. Derby and Classic entry fees were $500.  The UBBI subtracted a $10 office fee, a 25% production fee ($125) and a $50 Awards Fund Fee.  There was $315 (63%) going to the pay-out and $185 (37%) going to the office, production and awards fund.

Derby participants at the 2012 UBBI National Finals. Photo by Gautreau.

Jerry Nelson said, “After the first year, Jimmy Ray and I lost over $260,000!  That’s a lot of our own money starting the UBBI.  We were willing to try to keep this thing going, but we had to make some changes, so we did.  Last year we didn’t lose as much, but Jimmy and I have got over $300,000 invested in the UBBI.  We’re both committed to seeing this be a success.  We didn’t expect it to make us any money and that’s not why we started it.  We want to have something that’s good for everyone, but it’s got to start paying it’s on way, too!”

In 2012, the Futurity entry fee was raised to $450.  The UBBI subtracted a $25 office fee, instead of a 25% production fee which would have raised it to $112.50, it remained at $100.  The Awards Fund Fee remained at $50 and a $50 Pen Fee was added.  There was $225 (50%) going to the pay-out and $225 (50%) going to the office, production, awards fund and pen fee.  The entry fees, office fees, production drag and pen fees will remain the same in the Futurity competition in 2013.

“In discussions with Jerry Nelson and Jimmy Ray, I’ve always tried to maintain that we’d like to try to not take more than 50% of the entry fees to sustain the office, production or awards,” explained Randy Schmutz.  “If we can do that and the breeders can share with us 50/50 the responsibility of producing these events, we will continue to try to pack as much value into the UBBI and it’s events as we can.”

In 2012 the Derby and Classic entry fee was raised to $550.  The UBBI subtracted a $25 office fee, a 25% production fee ($137.50), the Awards Fund Fee remained at $50 and a $50 Pen Fee was added.  There was $287.50 (52.26%) going to the pay-out and $262.50 (47.74%) going to the office, production, awards fund and pen fee.

“We know it’s tough earning a dollar and we want the breeders keep as much of their dollars as they can, but we have tremendous expenses putting on these events and running the UBBI office,” stated Jimmy Ray.  “We want to take as little as we can, but we still have to pay the bills or we can’t keep the doors open.”

In 2013, the Futurity entry fee remained at $450.  After a discussion with all the UBBI members in attendance at the UBBI National Finals in 2012, a $50 Don Gay Added Money Fee was added to the Derby and Classic entry fees this year.  The fee to enter a Derby or Classic bull in 2013 will be $600.  The UBBI will still subtract the same $25 office fee, the production fee remained at $137.50, the Awards Fund Fee and Pen Fee remained at $50.  That allowed the pay-out and production drags to remain at $287.50 (pay-out) and $262.50 (production).  The additional $50 per entry from the Derby and Classic events will go into an “added money” fund and $2500 from that fund will be provided at each event and the UBBI will match that to provide a total of $5000 added money at each UBBI Don Gay Bull Riding Tour competition.

When the UBBI was created in 2011 it also had to develop a Bull Riding Tour to showcase the bulls that members were entering into competitions.  The Don Gay Bull Riding Tour (DGBRT) has operated along side the UBBI since the beginning and is managed from the same office in Stephenville, Texas.

Don Gay stated, “With $5000 added and the new ‘Rank Bull Rider Scoring System’ we feel that the UBBI breeders will benefit immensely with better riders and more effort.  Getting these rank bulls shown for the breeders is our biggest challenge and everyone involved with the UBBI works hard to make it the best it can be for the riders and the breeders!”

In 2013 the UBBI has added 43 new members that were not members in 2011 or 2012.  Fourteen of those new members competed at our first event in Palestine, Texas and 6 of them earned a check.

New UBBI member, Tim Dougherty winning the Palestine (February) Futurity with partner Cord McCoy. Photo by Gautreau.

“That says a lot for the UBBI,” stated Jimmy Ray. “Join us and what were doing, enter your bulls and you have just as good a chance at winning money as every one of our members.”

“We think we’ve started something that’s good for everybody,” explained Jerry Nelson.  “The little breeder with 5 bulls and 10 cows and the big breeder with 100 bulls and 500 cows can all come and have a chance.  Mel Kimbro tries hard to find  and hire good judges and not use the same ones at every event and the guys that work for us like what they do and do a good job.  Guys that own bucking bulls have a lot of choices of where they can compete.  If what we’re doing don’t fit what you want, there are other places to go!”

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United Bucking Bulls
United Bucking Bulls, Inc.
809 East Road, Ste #D
Stephenville, Texas 76401

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