Yesterday I said being a seedstock producer takes wit, patience, an affinity for numbers and courage. Of course I didn’t mention a whole host of other traits that would be underscored by good old-fashioned hard work.

So who are these people who typically work all year for one major payday (sale day)? Who are the ones setting the direction for the entire business? Who ultimately play a role in how well that beef goes over on the supper table?

They are people like Minnie Lou Bradley.

She was the first female animal science student and livestock judging team member at Oklahoma State University. That was just the beginning. There’s a whole story on all the ways Minnie Lou and her family’s B3R Ranch have gotten to be one of the most well-known Angus ranches in Texas. (You can read my version of that story here.)

But if there’s one quote that I really think sums up their goal in the business, it’s this one that I can still hear Minnie Lou telling me with convication as we sat out on the ranch office porch a few Junes ago:

“The real customer is the person who walks by the meatcase and purchases it. We like to think about the feedyards being a customer, or the yearling man or whoever, but the one who determines the price is the one at the meat counter. So we’ve got to have a pleasing product for them, but it’s got to be profitable for every segment.”

That ranch started raising purebred Angus cattle in 1958. A couple decades later and a couple states to the north a young couple was buying a few registered animals at the time.

Remember that patience I spoke of? Well, from 1975 to 1990, Galen and Lori Fink worked off-the-farm jobs while they built up their herd. It took a lot of squeaking by.

Steve told their story of humble beginnings to Angus empire back in 2008. Here’s my favorite excerpt: “’We thought if we were ever going to make it on our own in the seedstock cattle business, that was the time,’ Lori says…it was an end to ‘steady jobs with paychecks and retirement plans. We were going for the entrepreneur way of life.’”

I did say ability to stomach risk, didn’t I? That and innovation—they didn’t own land until the last five years.

There are thousands of stories of Angus cattlemen and women who have poured their lives into building better cattle.

They tackle problems head on. If a customer says they need more growth, docility, marbling or <insert appropriate trait> they listen. They try to select cattle so that all of the best traits are in one package.

And if you talk to their customers, I’m sure you’ll hear lots of people saying they’re doing a pretty darn good job. Grill up a steak tonight and you can decide for yourself.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


*And sometime between reading this post and enjoying that beef, check out some of the other writers joining us in this 30-day ag blogging in November. Grab the full list over on the instigator’s blog: 30 days on a Prairie Farm.

Beef’s a Trip Archives:

Day 1: Starting at day one

Day 2: Who are these people?

Day 3: Stockholders

Day 4: The cowherd’s purpose

Day 5: Deciding to care

Day 6: Quality focus doesn’t have to skip the middleman

Day 7: Stocking for quality

Day 8: SOLD!

Day 9: What have you done today?

Day 10: Working together to make ‘em better

Day 11: Keep on truckin’

Day 12: Packers want quality

Day 13: The target

Day 14: Packers up close & personal

Day 15: It’s not all about the beef

Day 16: Further processors

Day 17: From here to there–and a lot more

Day 18: He’s on your team

Day 19: Beyond prices, grocery stores uncovered

Day 20: Getting quality in the carts