Building the Foundation of a Solid Herd

The year 2022 marks my 64th year of breeding Angus cattle. My father and grandfather were in the Hereford business in the late 1800s. My dad, Joseph Bradford, sold four or five polled Hereford heifers, around 1906, to the Gammons, an Iowa family that helped lead the nation toward raising the naturally hornless Herefords. My dad, however, continued with the horned Herefords, always selling a few bulls and feeding out two or three loads of Hereford steers for the Chicago market. 

In 1954, he had taken a few loads of steers by rail to Chicago and discovered a record run was evident, with over 27,000 cattle on the market that day. The only thing going to the scale all morning, however, was black-hided cattle. We didn’t sell until mid-afternoon, at $3 less per hundredweight than the Angus. Within a year, Dad had gone to Pete Pratt, an Angus breeder in Walnut, Iowa, and purchased a couple Angus bulls. At that time, I was on the Iowa State University judging team and a big advocate of Hereford cattle. So when I heard he had purchased Angus bulls, I was about ready to disown the family. Luckily, despite my slow acceptance of Angus cattle, our judging team still excelled, winning the national collegiate judging competition in Chicago in 1955. And I slowly grew to respect the Angus breed.

We continued to pursue performance cattle in the subsequent decades. In 1968, we came across the Erdmann cattle at a test station in Montana, and eventually purchased “Big John” – Marshall Pride 4 – and some of his progeny from them. We later took Jim Baldridge, a sales manager and Angus Journal reporter, to Erdmanns’ place in South Dakota to show him their cattle, a trip which started events that boosted Baldridge’s visibility in the Angus business. 

Another “find” was the Doran Bros. Cattle of Beaver, Iowa. They had a bull, Black Wintonier 1088, that weighed around 1600 at one year of age, which was about 600 more than typical for most bulls at that time in the early 1960s. I ended up paying attention to that growth potential and later bought a number of Doran heifers second-hand.

We have continued to select for growth, fertility and a desired end product. The aspects of reproduction, disposition and longevity have a high priority in long-term herds. We’ve kept that in mind for more than six decades. We hope you will too.

-Jim Bradford

Brad Z Ranch

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