The state of Kansas can claim bragging rights, at least in the world of genetics and genetic improvement. Both the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Commercial Producer of the Year and the Seedstock Producer of the Year call the Sunflower State home. The award, sponsored by BEEF, showcases the nation’s top operations.
BIF Commercial Producer of the Year: Woodbury Farms, Quenemo, Kan.
Located on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills, Woodbury Farms was started in 1881 when Fred H. Woodbury purchased his first 80 acres. The fourth generation of Woodburys now operates land in four counties, managing 5,000 acres of native and tame grasses and 400 acres of cropland.
The cow herd consists of 400 spring-calving cows, of which 175 are registered Angus and 225 are commercial Angus and black baldies, along with a few red baldies that stem from a Hereford cow base.
Cattle are summer-grazed on the Flint Hills, then finished at a commercial feedyard where carcass data is gathered. Showing an emphasis on beef quality genetics, the operation enters a small number of steers and heifers in the annual Flint Hills Beef Fest in Emporia, Kan. During the past several years, Woodbury cattle have won the grandstand show in both the steer and heifer divisions and placed high in the grass futurity contest. They also won the steer carcass contest in 2012.
The family markets calves through many avenues. All calves are backgrounded after weaning, with a majority of the steers sold through the local sale barn. About one-third of the heifer calves are retained for replacements, and most of the remaining calves are sold in a production sale in March, along with about 40 yearling bulls from the registered herd.
BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year: McCurry Angus Ranch, Burrton, Kan.
McCurry Angus Ranch is a family-owned and managed operation located in south-central Kansas in the Sandhills area of Reno and Harvey counties. McCurry Angus Ranch utilizes 2,000 acres for home-based operations, with satellite operations in Chase and Greenwood counties, which consist of primarily native tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills. Buffalo, S.D., is the embryo transfer (ET) base for 150 commercial Angus-based cows.
But it wasn’t always that way. The ranch got its start in 1977, with the marriage of two third-generation Angus breeders. With no land, no facilities and no equipment, Andy and Mary McCurry began their first-generation start-up operation with seven registered Angus heifers representing pedigree lineage of seven distinct cow families. Today, 95% of the current herd traces back to those foundation females.
McCurry Angus consists of 400 registered Angus cows split evenly between spring- and fall-calving herds, and 250 spring-calving commercial Angus cows. About 175 bulls are sold yearly in a spring production sale and private-treaty sales throughout the year. The target customers are commercial cattle producers.
Currently, females are marketed primarily private treaty. In addition, spring-born commercial steer calves are marketed through Superior Livestock’s online auction.
Upon completion of college in 2004, son John joined the operation full time and the family expanded the operation.
The firsthand knowledge of developing a business from the ground up, with no external financial backers or financial means beyond themselves, has provided the McCurrys with unique insight of the overall business structure required for profitability and sustainability.
Click here to read and listen to many of the presentations at the 2015 Beef Improvement Federation conference. www.bifconference.com.
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