Grass & Grain

Grass and Grain 06-30-15

Agricultural Newspaper

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By Donna Sullivan, Editor Kansas was well repre- sented at the Beef Improve- ment Federation Research Symposium and Convention in Biloxi, Mississipi June 9- 12. When the awards were handed out, two were claimed by multi-genera- tional Kansas ranches. Mc- Curry Angus Ranch, Bur- rton, was named the 2015 Seedstock Producer of the Year and Woodbury Farms, Quenemo, took home the award for Commercial Pro- ducer of the Year. Both were nominated by Kansas Live- stock Association. Woodbury Farms was started by Fred Woodbury in 1881 when he purchased land north of Olivet. His son, Howard K. and wife Rachael expanded the farm, beginning a Hereford-based commercial cow herd. Their son, Fred H. came back to the farm after graduating from Kansas State Universi- ty in 1956. In 1968 the orig- inal homestead was taken by the Melvern Reservoir and the farm's headquarters was relocated five miles north of Quenemo. Although Fred spent most of his life re- building what they lost, he always considered the origi- nal farm his home. Howard K. passed away in 1985 and Fred's two sons, Howard H. and John joined the opera- tion after graduating from Kansas State University in 1988 and 1991. About that time, they bought Black Angus bulls to cross on their cow herd, which was 95% Hereford and were pleased with the benefits they saw in terms of fertility, mothering and calving ability. "The Herefords had problems that dad put up with for a long time," Howard said. They purchased their first regis- tered Angus cows in 2004 and now have a herd of about 200 registered and 200 com- mercial cows. In 2009, with their bull numbers exceeding their need, they began to sell bulls to other area producers and held their first bull auc- tion in 2012. When it comes to what set them apart from the other producers nominated for the award, Howard confesses he's really not sure. Both Howard and John have been active in industry organiza- tions on both the state and national level and are very involved in their community. In fact, Woodbury Farms is the second-oldest KLA member in the state and their grandfather was at the very first meeting. "I don't think we're a whole lot different than other commercial pro- ducers," Howard said. "I've never been one to tell anyone I'm better or smarter than anyone else. I'm just in the right place at the right time." One of the questions on the application asked about changes they'd made to the operation. Switching from feeding small square bales to unrolling large round bales has cut down on both their labor and waste consider- ably, according to Howard. They also try to graze the cattle year round, utilizing crop residue in the fall, brome in the spring, then summer pasturing them on native grass. Howard says they saw the benefits of artificial insemi- nation early on and currently AI all their replacement heifers. When carcass results from the Beef Expo contest showed small rib-eyes, they began breeding for that and have managed to increase the size of their ribeyes with- out sacrificing other traits. In addition to the cattle, they farm about 400 acres, put up 600-700 acres of brome and prairie hay and also put up silage every year. Howard's son Evan plans to return to the farm after graduating from KSU, mak- ing the fifth generation of Woodburys on the farm. "I don't know if we'll expand, or just have more labor for what we do now," Howard said. Howard's wife Elise is a teacher at Williamsburg El- ementary and their daughter Morgan is a junior at West Franklin High School at Pomona. Fred passed away this past April and their mother suffers from Alzheimer's and is in a care facility. "We're pretty proud of our heritage and hope we can continue on in a positive manner," Howard said. John McCurry of McCur- ry Angus Ranch describes their history as a unique story, as his parents, Andy and Mary were both third- generation producers, yet went out on their own like first-generation producers. They met at Kansas State University, where Mary, who was from Tennesee, was completing her master's de- gree in Food Science/Meat Science and Andy was earn- ing his B.S. in animal sci- ence, after leaving the Mc- Curry Brothers operation in 1975 to build something he could call his own. They blended their two first names to come up with their herd name, Marands and their logo is outlined in the shape of Tennessee, that they first called home. When John took over the daily operation of the ranch in the early 2000s, they changed the name to McCurry Angus. John describes the opera- tion he returned to after graduation from KSU as "more or less an overgrown 4-H project," with only about 70 cows on the place. "Then the dream came to fruition of propagating the front end of those genetics and putting embryos in," he described. When a couple of ranches in near Strong City and Fall River became avail- able to lease, they were able to expand. "We were able to hold on to all the cows dur- ing the drought and that's The Grass & Grain office will be closed on Friday, July 3 in observance of Independence Day. All display and classified advertising for the July 7 issue must be received by noon on Thursday, July 2. Thank you and Happy Independence Day! Early Deadline! John McCurry checks cattle in a leased pasture near Strong City. They have switched from weaning at seven to eight months to waiting until at least ten months to wean. He says last year the bulls averaged four pounds per day grazing and nurs- ing. Photo by Donna Sullivan The McCurry Family accepts the award for 2015 Seedstock Producer of the Year. Shown are, from left: Wes Ishmael, BEEF magazine, award sponsor, Mary McCur- ry and granddaughter Aubree, Andy McCurry, Molly, Melody and John McCurry and Shane Werk. Beef Improvement Federation photo Woodbury Farms and McCurry Angus honored at Beef Improvement Federation Convention John and Howard Woodbury are the fourth generation of Woodburys on their farm and introduced Black Angus into their Hereford herd when they returned from col- lege. Howard looks forward to his son Evan joining the operation to represent the fifth generation. Photo by Donna Sullivan Award sponsor Wes Ishmael of BEEF magazine, pres- ents the Commercial Producer of the Year award to Howard and John Woodbury. Beef Improvement Federation photo Continued on page 3

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