I have often heard the
story about my attendance at the Wilson Farms Red Angus Sale
in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, when I was 3-years old.
Wilson Farms had purchased the original Pioneer/George Chiga
herd. I also went back to the Wilson Farms Dispersal
sale when I was 4.
Although I was not directly involved in the cattle business until I returned to the family farm after graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996 with a degree in animal science, I had an interest in the Red Angus breed. I have heard my dad, Dr. Gordon Jones - a professor of animal science at Western Kentucky University - discuss the positive attributes of Red Angus cattle many times.
When I became involved in commercial cattle production (cow/calf), I quickly learned to appreciate the characteristics of Red Angus cattle that I had heard my dad describe over the years. He talked about calving ease, milking ability, sound udders, longevity of production, disposition and growth without excessive frame size. And, needless to say, with my background on the National Championship Meats Judging team at OSU, I was acutely aware of carcass quality and carcass cutability.
My primary farming business after college involved purebred swine seedstock, tobacco, sheep and commercial cattle. In fact, I have been involved in my family's purebred Duroc seedstock business as long as I can remember. My father and grandfather have been in the Duroc seedstock business since 1965. I added Landrace and Yorkshire breeding stock when I returned to the family farm. Since I can remember our primary objective in the swine seedstock business has been to supply breeding stock to our commercial producer clients to improve production efficiency that would enhance their net profits. We have always taken the approach that if our breeding stock truly worked for the commercial producers who we supply, the elite animals from our herd should be superior enough to improve most purebred herds. With that approach, we have sold swine breeding stock into more than 30 states and several foreign countries. We are taking the same approach in selecting, breeding, and managing our Red Angus cattle.
Our hogs are provided excellent management and nutrition. They are produced in an environment as similar to the commercial customers as possible. Individual pigs are never pampered, but close attention has been given to contemporary group integrity in order to aid us in making the best selection decisions possible.
In our swine program, we have done extensive study and travel to identify breeding stock herds with similar goals and purposes as our herd. We have never based our breeding decisions on fads, fancies or show ring performance, but on traits of economic importance to our commercial clients.
Now, how did we get involved in the Red Angus business? As Sarah and I were planning to expand our farming operation, the potential for leasing pasture land seemed to be the most readily available resource. Since our area of Tennessee and Kentucky has excellent potential for growth in the beef cattle industry, it seemed logical for us to increase our beef cowherd. We began this expansion by purchasing the entire herd of Red Angus cattle that had been developed by Mr. Jere Caldwell of Danville, Kentucky. Mr. Caldwell had practiced the same kind of breeding and selection program for his Red Angus as we had used for our Duroc herd. Mr. Caldwell's breeding decisions had certainly been based upon traits of economic importance in commercial beef production. Mr. Caldwell had been breeding purebred Polled Herefords for more than 40 years, and he had been collecting carcass data on his herd for almost this entire period. Mr. Caldwell's Red Angus herd was developed by "grading-up" to Red Angus (1B) from his outstanding Polled Herefords.
When my dad first visited Mr. Caldwell's herd, he noticed that every pedigree of Red Angus cows seemed to be exclusively Buffalo Creek breeding. When my dad asked why he had used almost exclusively Buffalo Creek breeding, he responded that Gini Chase was his niece. We want to express a huge note of gratitude to Mr. Caldwell for the outstanding job he did in developing our "original" or "first" herd of Red Angus.
Those cows have served us well and continue to be an important part of our 1B Red Angus and SimAngus programs.
After we had observed our Caldwell cows for a few months, we decided to purchase a bull from Buffalo Creek to continue the genetic selection program similar to which Mr. Caldwell had used. We contacted Jack and Gini Chase, and they offered us the opportunity to become partners in some of their outstanding herd sires. We purchased 2/3 interest and full possession of Buffalo Creek Keystone 6033.
Keystone has been a major contributor in the development of our herd.
On March 18, 2006, we hosted our first
annual Bull and Female sale at our farm. We offered
both Red Angus bulls and yearling females. We are
grateful to the many supporters of this event. We
appreciate the buyers and the many friends and fellow
cattlemen who offered positive comments regarding our
breeding program. This spring sale has become an
annual event, and plans are ongoing to have an outstanding
offering for our 9th sale on March 15, 2014.
As our Red Angus herd continued to grow, we saw an increasing need to offer multiple breeds to our commercial customers. After consideration of several breeds, we decided that Simmental cattle would compliment our Red Angus cattle and positively impact our customers' profitability better than any other breed. The USDA Meat Animal Research Center data and progeny test data from the American Simmental Association show clear genetic progress during the last 20 years for traits of economic importance to commercial producers. This progress in the areas of direct and maternal calving ease has been the best in the beef industry. The Simmental breed was also the only breed association to provide across-breed EPDs for SimAngus composites.
We first visited the Gateway Simmental herd in April, 2006. At Gateway we found people and cattle that closely matched our breeding philosophies. Gateway says their breeding stock is "selected to enhance retail value and pasture productivity." We purchased semen, embryos, and a herd bull from Gateway. We certainly wish to express our appreciation to Jim Butcher of Gateway for his guidance and counsel with our Simmental program. We also wish to thank Jim for allowing us to purchase 10 outstanding 8 and 9 year old cows to bolster our Simmental program.
This story is only in the beginning... Please visit the remainder of our website to learn more about the exciting progress taking place at Red Hill Farms. Thanks for visiting our website and showing an interest in our cattle.