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For a high-resolution photo of the winner, click here (will activate link when photo is available).

For more information contact:

Joe Cassady, executive director, Beef Improvement Federation, North Carolina State University; 919-513-0262; www.BIFconference.com; www.beefimprovement.org

Leo McDonnell Honored with
BIF Pioneer Award

HOUSTON, Texas (April 20, 2012) — The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Leo McDonnell with the Pioneer Award during the organization's 44th annual meeting and research symposium in Houston, Texas, April 18-21. The award recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle, honoring those who have had a major role in acceptance of performance reporting and documentation as the primary means to make genetic change in beef cattle.

Born and raised in Billings, Mont., McDonnell is a fourth-generation rancher, who was raised around both feedlot and cow-calf operations. He and his wife, Sam, live near Columbus, Mont., and have four children (Steve, Darcey, Kelsey and Buffy) and 10 grandchildren.

McDonnell attended Texas Tech University and the University of Wyoming, studying animal nutrition for a feedlot background and animal science. He returned home in 1976 to help his father run the Midland Bull Test and managed a commercial feedlot, Patton and Davidson Feedlot.

Leo and Sam purchased their first ranch in 1987 near Reedpoint, Mont., and later moved their ranch to Rhame, N.D., where they graze about 350 registered cows. They also have a herd of registered cows in western Montana and maintain a fall-calving herd at Columbus, Mont., for a total of about 600 cows.

The couple purchased Midland Bull Test following the death of McDonnell's father in 1993. Known as "The Granddaddy of Performance," the test is recognized as a pioneer in the development and promotion of performance. Midland has grown to testing more than 2,000 bulls per year. It has often led the field in introducing breeders and ranchers to additional trait selection. It was one of the early seedstock programs to measure scrotal size, recognizing its importance to early fertility in female offspring, as well as its importance to bull fertility.

Midland was one of the pioneers in ultrasound, measuring for ribeye area (REA), intramuscular fat (IMF) and back fat (BF) in 1969 and 1970. It has now become the largest private facility to measure individual feed intake to assist in identifying more efficient cattle. Emphasis has been on efficiency as it relates to the cow herd and replacement females.

In 2008, Leo and Sam turned the management and operation of Midland Bull Test over to their son Steve Williams and his wife, Lindsay. They now concentrate their efforts on the cow herd, ranching, grandchildren and developing a national database for efficiency-tested cattle.

Leo has been involved in several industry groups, being a past chair of the Montana Cattle Feeders; a delegate in the mid-1990s for Montana, sitting on the NCBA International Trade Committee and the Research and Education Committee; a co-founder of R-CALF USA in 1998-1999; and currently a director of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association. Leo has also been active in the Montana Stockgrowers Association; the Montana Cattlemen's Association; and the Beartooth Stockgrowers Association.

He has testified on behalf of U.S. cattle producers at numerous Congressional hearings. He is credited with taking the lead in getting country-of-origin labeling (COOL) passed and has spent considerable time in Washington, D.C., advancing issues important to U.S. ranchers.

Leo has received numerous awards, including the 1999 Black Hills Stock Show Agri-Businessman of the Year and the 2000 Ag Advocate of the Year presented at the Billings Chamber of Commerce ag appreciation dinner.

Says Leo, "Life works best when you give back, and I believe this is true on a business and industry level."

He was presented the BIF Pioneer Award at a luncheon Friday, April 20, in Houston.

For more information about this year's symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of the meeting and tours, visit www.BIFconference.com. For more information about the BIF organization, visit www.beefimprovement.org.


Editor's Note: This article is provided as a news release by the Beef Improvement Federation. For a high-resolution photo of the winner, additional award announcements and coverage of the meeting, visit the Awards page at www.BIFconference.com.

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) was formed more than 40 years ago as a means to standardize beef cattle performance programs and methodologies and to create greater awareness, acceptance and usage of these concepts of genetic improvement. BIF represents more than 40 state and national beef cattle associations. For more details about the BIF organization, contact Executive Director Joe Cassady at 919-513-0262.


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