BIF Recognizes The “Best Of The Best” Cattle Breeders

The Beef Improvement Federation recognizes innovative cattle breeding programs with its commercial and seedstock awards, which are sponsored by BEEF magazine.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

June 20, 2013

3 Min Read
BIF Recognizes The “Best Of The Best” Cattle Breeders

Of the many awards a ranch can win, those bestowed by the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) are among the most prestigious. That’s because the BIF Commercial and Seedstock Producer Awards, sponsored by BEEF, recognize the dedication, hard work and innovative thinking necessary to truly achieve long-term genetic improvement. This year’s winners are true examples of what happens when knowledge and wisdom intersect.

The 2013 BIF Commercial Producer Award went to Darnall Ranch, Inc., Harrisburg, NE. The ranch was originally homesteaded in 1889 and has been in the family for 124 years.

The current operation began 40 years ago with 150 Hereford cows with the calves sold at weaning and 1,400 acres of farm ground. Today the cowherd consists of 1,700 commercial Angus females bred to Sim-Angus bulls. The bulls are developed using EPDs, genomics and a Grow-Safe system.

The cowherd calves in February and March, with first-calf heifers calving two weeks ahead of the cows. Around 75% of the calves are born in the first 30 days.

Around 300-400 replacement heifers are kept, with the remainder of the calf crop fed to harvest in the family’s 22,500-head Certified Angus Beef feedlot, where conversion, rate of gain, grade and yield, along with a profitability analysis, is recorded. The operation has grown to 25,000 acres of grassland, 2,400 acres of irrigated and 4,700 acres of dryland farm ground, which grows the feed to help support the cow-calf, yearling and feedlot operations.

BIF commerical award winner
Pictured at the awards presentation are (from left) Mark Cowan, 2012-2013 BIF president; Gary Darnall and Lane Darnall, recipients; and Burt Rutherford, BEEF magazine, award sponsor. Photos by Angus Journal staff provided courtesy of


The 2013 BIF Seedstock Award Winner is Bradley 3 Ranch in Memphis, TX. Buying a ranch in the middle of an epic drought may not be the best business decision, but the results have borne out its wisdom. The Bradley 3 Ranch was started in 1955 with 20 registered Angus cows. Today, the herd is one of the few Angus herds in the country that has maintained more than 200 registered Angus cows for more than 50 years.

The Bradleys were committed to a disciplined approach to cattle performance from the beginning. The ranch was one of the first members of the American Beef Cattle Performance Registry, and the Bradleys maintain an emphasis on performance as the foundation of their genetic program.

Bradley 3 Ranch is home to 400 registered Angus cows and 35 registered Charolais cows. All the cows calve in the fall; in normal moisture years, the only supplemental feed is protein.

In 1986, the Bradleys started B3R Country Meats. For the next 16 years, they built an all-natural meat company that harvested 30,000 head in 2002, the year it was sold. It was one of the earliest value-based marketing systems in the U.S. and the experience of producing cattle for retail customers led to a strong emphasis in muscle in their cattle today.

BIF seedstock winner
Pictured at the awards presentation are (from left) Joe Cassady, BIF executive director; Mark Cowan, 2012-2013 BIF president; Mary Lou Bradley-Henderson, James Henderson and Minnie Lou Bradley, recipients; and Burt Rutherford, BEEF magazine, award sponsor. Photos by Angus Journal staff provided courtesy of


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About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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