COOPER HEREFORD RANCH: Presents 50th Annual Production Sale

Published on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 10:32am

By Steve Weisman

With a lineage of Line One Herefords dating back to 1947, Cooper Hereford Ranch ( located 35 miles from Bozeman, Montana, is known across the country as a ranch that produces the kind of high-performing Hereford cattle that beef producers are looking for today. Undeterred by fads or trends, the Cooper family has maintained this closed line of breeding for over 70 years. The end result is a uniquely uniform herd that produces predictable and consistent offspring. Owners Mark and Cristy Cooper are preparing for the 50th Annual Cooper Hereford Ranch Production Sale on Tuesday, March 15 at which time 85 yearling bulls, 20 top end yearling heifers and 15 young bred females will be auctioned off. Sale is scheduled to commence at 1 p.m.

“We are excited to offer potential buyers our most uniform set of bulls to date,” says Mark. “Our program today is the result of years of performance testing and selecting for traits that keep cattle producers profitable. We place a huge emphasis on maternal traits, focusing on udder quality, milkability and stayability. In today’s beef industry, the buzz word is cross-breeding, and the Hereford bull is a logical choice for the black cow herd across America. The black baldy (f1) female is a superior end product of this mating. When you add the bred-in heterosis of our cattle to this equation, the end result is an increase in pounds, fertility and longevity.”

Gino Pedretti, a longtime cattle rancher near El Nido in central California, has been a repeat Line One buyer since 1974. Pedretti says, “I’ve always liked the program that Cooper Ranch has had. I knew Mark’s father, Jack and his wife very well, and we have always trusted their honesty. We know exactly what we are getting.”

Another longtime customer, Gordon Jamison, who owns Jamison Herefords near Quinter, Kansas, adds, “I’ve purchased a lot of bulls from Cooper Ranch over the years going back to the 1970s. We started with Line One Herefords early on because the cattle industry was in a transition, and Cooper Ranch offered a fresh direction and genetics that we liked. They have always stayed on the cutting edge. They have always treated us fairly, and they take care of us.”

Prior to the sale, potential buyers can go online and download a catalogue (pdf file) with details about the sale, along with a history, physical characteristics and a video of each bull. “We also encourage potential buyers to visit our operation prior to sale day to view our cattle.”


Multi-Generations: Same Philosophy and Values

Mark and Cristy are third-generation descendants and part of over 100 years of hard work and good management that has led to a 4,500-acre ranch nestled amidst the mountainous foothills of southwestern Montana, near where the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin rivers converge to form the headwaters of the mighty Missouri River in Big Sky Country. Mark’s grandfather Frank Oscar Cooper homesteaded the original 480 acres in 1914, and in 2014 Cooper Hereford Ranch celebrated 100 years of land stewardship. Today around 2,500 tons of hay is harvested, along with 30,000 bushels of wheat annually. Cooper Ranch is home to 200 registered Line One Hereford cattle and 120 head of commercial cattle.

Mark says with a smile, “We are now on our fourth generation with two of our daughters, Kelsy and Katie working full time with us. Kelsy handles the public relations and website designing, while Katie has a background in civil engineering and is involved with irrigation and water resources on the ranch.”


Why Line One

Jack Cooper, Mark’s father, first purchased Line One cattle in 1947. At that time, Jack’s brother-in-law, Dr. Ray Woodward, was a Line One Project Leader at the Experiment Station in Miles City. He strongly believed that performance traits were inheritable and could be emphasized through line breeding. “Cattle back in the ’40s were smaller, shorter cattle, and in Dad’s eyes lacked performance and growth,” says Mark. “Back then, there was no documentation that performance testing was inheritable, and I think that intrigued my father.”

Mark, who returned to the ranch in 1977 after attending Montana State University, says he always knew what he wanted to do: raise Line One Herefords. “I learned a lot from my dad. He instilled in me the importance of integrity and honesty, to be upfront in business and to treat customers with respect. By doing this, he would say, ‘you will in turn breed integrity into the program and into your life’.”

Mark notes that in the years since purchasing the first Line One foundation stock, “we’ve worked very hard to improve our herd to meet the current demands of our customers and the beef industry at large. Our goal is to produce solid, fundamental cattle that work well in all segments of the beef industry. We continue to place great emphasis on structural soundness and maternal traits along with performance and carcass traits.”

Performance testing remains a vital tool at Cooper Ranch. “We continue to select our cattle for moderate birth weights, performance, milkability and positive carcass traits. Over the years, we have worked hard to produce quality cattle for our customers. Our greatest reward has been in knowing the great people we have met through the years.”

As Mark looks at the efforts put into Cooper Hereford Ranch, he reflects on a statement his dad made: “We love our cattle, we believe in what we do and we have worked hard to improve the cattle. We are pleased that our cattle are accepted. . .My greatest reward has been in knowing the great people we have met through the years. We have made wonderful friends.”