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2015 Seedstock Producer Nominees

The Beef Improvement Federation announces its 2015 nominees for Seedstock Producer of the Year.

Each year the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) recognizes outstanding seedstock operations during its annual symposium, crowning one overall winner as Seedstock Producer of the Year. Nominees are evaluated on criteria including short- and long-term goals, records systems and implementation, breeding systems, selection objectives/culling criteria and process, marketing practices and customer relations, carcass data collection and application, forage resources and stewardship, innovations/improvements and use of technology, contributions to community and industry, and vision of BIF's role.

Five nominees were recognized this year during an awards dinner June 10. McCurry Angus Ranch, Burrton, Kan., was named 2015 BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year. Following are short bios of each of the nominees.

Quick Links: CK Cattle | Diamond Peak Cattle Co. | Journagan Ranch | McCurry Angus Ranch | Prairie View Farms


CK Cattle, Hope Hull, Ala.

Owners: Chuck and Katie Madaris
Managers: Chuck & Katie Madaris, Charlie & Carrie Madaris, Bradfield & Kathleen Evans

CK Cattle is a multi-generational, family-owned Chiangus, Angus and SimAngus seedstock and commercial cattle operation located near Hope Hull, Ala. The CK Cattle family involves Chuck and Katie Madaris; Charlie and Carrie Madaris; Bradfield and Kathleen Evans, and their children Ellis Ann and Shep.

CK Cattle began in 1979 with the purchase of four Angus pairs. Today, CK Cattle consists of 650 breeding females. The American Simmental Association Multi-Breed Evaluation and Total Herd Enrollment program, and the American Angus Association Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR®) program are used for performance evaluation. DNA profiles are collected along with all performance and carcass ultrasound measurements.

Artificial insemination (AI) is a key genetic tool within the breeding program. Proven AI sires and CK herd sires are used for predictability and environmental adaptability.

The Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) has had a significant influence in the development of the CK bull market. The goal to market 2-year-old bulls has been successful, providing customers with older bulls ready for large cow herds. Currently, 140 bulls are marketed in the Alabama BCIA Fall Round Up Bull Sale, the It’s All Black and White Bull Sale, and by private treaty. Plans are being made for an inaugural bull sale this fall.

CK Cattle annually markets 100 bred heifers and 50 cows, plus three loads of feeder calves. With three family generations, CK Cattle is just beginning to reach its potential for enhancing genetics of the beef cattle industry in the region. CK Cattle strives to market high-value cattle and operate very efficiently to ensure continued profitability.

The Alabama BCIA nominated CK Cattle.


Diamond Peak Cattle Co., Craig, Colo.

Owners/Managers: John, George & Angelo Raftopoulos

Diamond Peak Cattle Co. is one of the largest ranching operations in Colorado. The original outfit was established as a sheep operation in the 1920s and was expanded to include a cattle operation after John graduated from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978.

John Raftopoulos is an innovator, risk taker, entrepreneur, cowman and a steward of the land, but the description of which he most closely associates and is most proud is father and husband. It is his family that he cherishes most, and they are his most valuable asset.

John and his two sons, George and Angelo, own and operate Diamond Peak Cattle Co., an operation that encompasses some 50,000 acres of deeded land and another 250,000-300,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and state and private leases, making the ranch one of the larger holders of grazing rights on public lands.

They graze 2,800 head of spring-calving Angus and Angus-cross cows. The cattle operation is located in the high-desert sagebrush environment west of Craig, Colo., in the northwest corner of Moffat County. It extends into southern Wyoming and northeastern Utah.

The breeding program is unique in that only a few high-accuracy, moderate-frame, deep-bodied, big-spread, easy-calving AI sires that are positive for carcass traits are selected. Milk, fertility, disposition and the ability to travel are all critically important. Consistency and uniformity are the main goals through the production of large numbers of 31/32 and 63/64 brothers and sisters for commercial producers.

Diamond Peak Cattle Co. is building a niche market for bulls suited for high altitude. PAP-tested bulls are offered in the spring at their annual sales in Loma, Colo., and Riverton, Wyo. Bulls are also offered by private treaty. Today, their registered cow herd stands at 1,050 head.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and Colorado State University nominated Diamond Peak Cattle Co.


Journagan Ranch/Missouri State University, Mountain Grove, Mo.

Owner: Missouri State University
Manager: Marty Lueck

With the focus and commitment to provide the best Hereford genetics it can produce, Journagan Ranch has grown to be the largest Hereford seedstock producer in Missouri and the 15th largest in the United States. In its 40th year of seedstock production and located in the beautiful Ozarks of south-central Missouri, the Journagan Ranch is home to more than 400 Hereford females.

Leo Journagan purchased his first Hereford heifers while serving in World War II. After the war, he rented property until the mid-1960s, when he bought his first piece of land. Continuing to add ground to that original parcel, the ranch has grown to 3,800-plus acres.

In 1975 Leo purchased his first registered polled Herefords, and Marty Lueck joined Journagan Ranch as manager in 1981. To complement the seedstock herd, the ranch also maintains 160 commercial females, which has remained a closed herd for 32 years. A majority of the registered herd and all the commercial cows calve in the spring.

Since 1985, LJR genetics have been marketed in a production sale the first Saturday of October. Also, 50-60 yearling bulls are sold private treaty off the farm.

Today, Journagan Ranch also serves as an outdoor classroom and demonstration farm for Missouri State University (MSU) students. In 2010, Leo and his family gifted the ranch and cattle to MSU to preserve the program and continue Leo’s legacy. Recently, a ranch-to-plate beef program has been initiated with the beef marketed in local stores in Springfield, Mo.

The American Hereford Association nominated Journagan Ranch/MSU.


McCurry Angus Ranch, Burrton, Kan.

Owners: Andy & Mary McCurry, John & Melody McCurry
Manager: John McCurry

McCurry Angus Ranch is a family-owned and -managed operation located in south-central Kansas in the Sandhills area of Reno and Harvey counties. McCurry Angus Ranch utilizes 2,000 acres for home-based operations, with satellite operations in Chase and Greenwood counties, which consist of primarily native tall-grass prairie in the Flint Hills. Buffalo, S.D., is the embryo transfer (ET) base for 150 commercial Angus-based cows.

McCurry Angus consists of 400 registered-Angus cows split evenly between spring- and fall-calving herds, and 250 spring-calving commercial-Angus cows. About 175 bulls are sold yearly in a spring production sale and private-treaty sales throughout the year. The target customers are commercial cattle producers.

Currently, females are marketed primarily private treaty. In addition, spring-born commercial steer calves are marketed through Superior Livestock’s online auction.

The ranch got its start in 1977, with the marriage of two third-generation Angus breeders. Andy and Mary McCurry began their first-generation start-up operation with seven registered-Angus heifers representing pedigree lineage of seven distinct cow families, no land, no facilities and no equipment. Today, 95% of the current herd traces back to those foundation females.

Upon completion of college in 2004, son John joined the operation full-time and the family expanded the operation.

The firsthand knowledge of developing a business from the ground up, with no external financial backers or financial means beyond themselves, has provided the McCurrys with unique insight of the overall business structure required for profitability and sustainability.

The Kansas Livestock Association nominated McCurry Angus Ranch.


Prairie View Farms, Gridley, Ill.

Owners/Managers: Alan and Theresa Miller and Family

Prairie View Farms is located in the heart of central Illinois corn country near Gridley and owned by Alan and Theresa Miller. The commitment to raising Angus cattle has ebbed and flowed for more than three generations of Alan’s family. His grandfather, Adam Schlipf, started the herd in the 1940s and was active in the purebred cattle business through the 1960s, until the focus became centered on the crop side of the farm.

The cow herd was revitalized in the 1990s as a 4-H project for Alan and his siblings. It has grown from 25 cows to 175 head today. A desire to return to the production agriculture lifestyle after a 15-year career in academia led Alan to diversify his family’s operation and start raising Angus cattle full time. He turned cornfields into lush green pastures, remodeled the weathered barn into a polished show cattle facility, built a working barn equipped with a lab to handle the latest reproductive technologies and set out to make Prairie View Farms one of the nation’s leading Angus seedstock operations.

Each year, Prairie View Farms markets around 200 animals, with more than one-third being show heifers, at a spring production sale hosted on the farm, an online sale hosted in December, private-treaty sales and through state consignment sales. The operation markets bulls in a partnership with a ranch in Kansas and owns 10 bulls leased by AI studs.

Alan’s lifelong ambition has been to build a cow herd that makes a difference in the industry. He is a great example of someone who grew his love of showing cattle into a profitable business with little to no startup or family background. Alan has worked hard to find a niche in the beef business that would pay off for his family’s livelihood and for the dozens of high-quality Angus female buyers Prairie View Farms attracts every year.

The University of Illinois Extension nominated Prairie View Farms.

Editor’s Note: Biographies are provided courtesy of the Beef Improvement Federation.

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