Tag Archives: bull sale

When a Tornado Hits Your Bull Barn

Many of you likely heard about the dozens of tornados that tore through the Midwest on December 15, 2021, also a day that featured a rare derecho event in the area. One of the tornados that appeared in Iowa hit Brad Z Ranch during the early evening that day.

Because it was already dark, it was impossible to see where the tornado was coming from or heading to other than what the local news meteorologists had (thankfully) pinpointed on radar. We would later find out that the F2 tornado – called the “Bayard tornado” – luckily passed over or very close to the house. It was not damaged and, as a result, no one was injured. But when Jim went out to check the farm buildings with herdsman Terry Kress that night, they soon discovered that three fourths of the main bull barn had been knocked down. In the dark, they searched through the debris, discovering, as far as they could tell, that none of the young bulls in the lot had been injured or trapped. We assume the sounds of the roof and walls being pulled apart was strange enough that the group of bull calves were spooked and ran into the open area of the lot, which meant they were clear of the falling and flying debris.

The tornado caused smaller amounts of damage to other buildings on the main farmstead but it could have been much worse. It then traveled a mile to the north and took down one of our hay sheds that was new only a few years ago. A few of the cows in that pasture suffered minor cuts from flying debris, but we were again lucky that none were injured seriously. While all of this was a blow to the farm, it wasn’t long before we were mostly operating as normal. The bulls, Jim thinks, have gained weight rapidly since the week of the tornado and are looking great. (Stress eating?) We hope he doesn’t start analyzing the stats too closely and decide there may be something scientific we need to explore repeating in the future. With all joking aside, we are happy to be able to say that the annual bull sale will be held as usual on March 12, 2022. You may just have a little less roof over your head this year when looking the bulls over. Thanks for all the moral support and encouragement so many of you have offered! It means a lot to us.

A Pre-Sale Message from Jim Bradford

By Jim Bradford

Market cattle hit a new high this week – up to a $1.53 – and demand seems to be strong. Pork hit a limit-up the other day. So demand for red meat has been strong, and the demand for breeding stock continues to increase. The cow herd numbers are at their lowest since 1951 due partly to low moisture around the country, but it looks like we could see some expansion in heifer numbers in the coming year.

Buying cattle is a long-term investment. Investing in livestock is a sound strategy in terms of holding your money during times of inflation. It offers somewhat of a safeguard when you hold something tangible, such as land or cattle, as money itself declines in value.

Our livelihood has always been the cattle and, therefore, has forced us to select for economically important traits that pay the bills and educate the kids. Fertility is the number one trait we build upon. We look at many other desirable traits and try to bring them along, but there’s nothing we would do that would demean fertility. We’ve been emphasizing this since 1958.

To understand fertility in our cattle, we’d like to offer the example of one particular cow in our herd. This 13-year-old cow has had 11 calves, with an average weaning ratio of 111. The average calving interval on those 11 calves is 364 days. She is proven, and this is why she’s allowed to become a Brad Z Ranch donor cow.

Jim Bradford (right) with herdsman Josh Eisentrager after Brad Z Ranch steer won second place in 2013 ICA Carcass Challenge.

Jim Bradford (right) with herdsman Josh Eisentrager after Brad Z Ranch steer won second place in 2013 ICA Carcass Challenge.

Our cattle have done well in competition. We had a steer in a carcass challenge held by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association last year, and he earned reserve champion in terms of value per day of age.

We’ve been selling breeding stock for 50-plus years from a herd we built with the expectation that we could make a living from them.  We hope to help you do the same. See you at our sale on March 10.