Cattle genetics: Behind the scenes

Slideshow: Here’s another look at Bradley and Kimberly Wolter’s Windy Hill Meadows operation and how they’re using genetics to build a quality beef herd.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

June 17, 2019

10 Slides

When Bradley and Kimberly Wolter decided to start a cow herd from scratch 15 years ago, they relied on her innate cattle knowledge and his Ph.D. in genetics.

Fast-forward those 15 years and you have a young southern Illinois farm family who is redefining beef cattle production — and profitability — on their Aviston farm, Windy Hill Meadows, and bringing a network of farm families along for the ride.

“The base of all this is that we want to develop our kids with a strong work ethic, we want to develop great genetics, and we want to benefit other family farms,” Kimberly says.

Then she laughs. “It’s a giant science project.” Bradley can’t argue that point.

The pair met at the University of Illinois, where Kimberly pursued a degree in agricultural economics and spent her early career in food-service sales for DOT Foods. Bradley earned a doctorate in swine genetics and is CEO of The Maschhoffs, where he’s spent the last two decades transforming the company’s genetic approach to raising profitable pork.

For more on the Wolters’ operation, click through the slideshow, and check out their full story in Moneyball for beef and How to break ground you can’t yet see.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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