HARPER BUYS OCHS BROS. COWS
Being in the livestock business and raising good seedstock has long been my ambition. I have had a long and varied background in commercial ranching, always striving to raise the best cattle possible. Our commercial operations received a great quantum leap when we acquired the entire commercial herd of Ochs Bros., Gunnison, CO, in 1997. These big, thick, good traveling, sound, fertile, hardy Herefords really opened our eyes as we saw the growth of their fancy calves which weaned at weights heavier than we ever imagined and topped sales wherever we sold them.

That crossbreeding is a powerful tool, cannot be denied. I have long believed that Hereford – Angus (black baldy) is the best cross. Over the years from dispersal sales, Harper Cattle Co. had put together a fine herd of commercial Angus. Our commercial program uses a cross to produce black baldies, while breeding enough Angus cows to produce straight Angus herd replacements, and breeding enough Hereford cows to produce straight Angus replacements. This commercial program has really worked for us, and we are convinced that we are on the right track with it. And we have learned that the best Angus and Hereford replacements all require top end, long, thick, heavy boned bulls.

We found the best Hereford bulls at Ochs Bros. at Gunnison, CO and the best Angus bulls at breeders in Montana and the Dakotas. These bulls did a tremendous job for our commercial herd for several years. As opportunities arose for us to acquire superior registered Angus females, we did so at the Jolly Rogers and Cedar Hill dispersal sales and in private treaty transactions with Koupals Angus, Rishel Angus and other top Angus breeders across the country. We made a commitment to get into the Registered Angus business in a most meaningful way. We complimented these cows with outstanding sires, principally from Sitz Angus and we have quietly proceeded with our registered Angus operations over the past six years.

Just prior to the Ochs Bros. Hereford Bull Sale in September 2002, I had a quiet visit with Ken Ochs about the future of their herd. He related to me about Ochs Bros. acquisition of the Jim Hole herd in 1983. The Hole Herefords were widely respected as the best in Canada. Big, thick, heavy boned with luxuriant hair coats these cattle were never exposed to the runt fads, “race horse” mania, or numerous other fashionable changes. Jim Hole just kept breeding what he liked, and he was eminently successful at it. When Ochs Bros. struck their private treaty deal with Hole, Ken Ochs reminded him that he could get considerably more money at a dispersal sale than he was getting in this deal. Jim’s tart reply was, “Hell, I know that, but I didn’t spend fifty years of my life with these cows to see them scattered to the four winds.”

The success of Ochs Bros. with the Hole cows is widely documented by the many honors they have received and their unmatched sale record over the past twenty years. Ken Ochs mentioned, that because of the pending expiration of their ranch lease, he was fearful that Ochs Bros. might be facing a dispersal sale, and like Jim Hole, he dreaded the thought of scattering the Hole/Ochs cows to the four winds, I mentioned, “Why don’t you sell them to Harper Cattle?” Well, to make a long story short, that’s what happened. We bought the entire Ochs Bros. operation, lock, stock and barrel… cows, bulls, semen, equipment, horses and feed. One provision of the sale was that Jeff Cole, longtime manager, would come with the cattle, and that Ken and Don Ochs would serve as advisors to us.

We moved the OB operation to our ranch at Wagon Mound, NM., and our Angus herd is located at our Venus, TX ranch. We have left no stone unturned in acquiring the best seed stock Stan Harperfor our customers. Feel free to ask us any questions about our operation. Please let us know if we can help you in anyway. We want to be your seedstock provider.

Many Thanks,
Stan Harper

HISTORY OF THE HEREFORD HERD
Ochs Bros. began ranching in 1972 in the Gunnison Valley, one of the great ranching Gunnison Valleyareas in the world. It is also one of the toughest proving grounds with the shortest growing season and coldest winters in the U.S., with summer range at elevations up to 11,500 feet. They ran a good herd of commercial Hereford cows, and became quite concerned when their milk production waned and calf weights and cow size stagnated even though they had been buying top Hereford bulls of popular U.S. bloodlines.

They embarked on a search to look for breeding that could improve their situation. After two years, they concluded that the best Herefords went back to Canadian bloodlines. Well, the rest is history. They made scores of trips to Canada, decided to get into the seedstock business, and bought Canadian Herefords, including the Jim Hole cowherd, acknowledged by many to be the best in Canada. They were careful not to buy animals who had a dose of small U.S. breeding which was the vogue for several years.

This cowherd ended up being the largest group of imported cows in the U.S. with the biggest individuals anywhere. The imported bulls were the largest in the U.S., so they could breed to accomplish goals other than size alone, which has so greatly occupied the efforts of most breeders. With the commercial background, they could see the folly of the show ring fads and of breeders and professors telling ranchers what they should be raising. So they let the commercial operators tell them what kind of bulls they needed.

Listening has paid off in grand fashion. Their production bull sales were unmatched in the world and they were widely recognized as being the top Hereford breeders producing for the commercial cowman. They spared no effort or expense in their quest to raise the very best Herefords.

 

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