A continued breeding philosophy | TSLN.com

A continued breeding philosophy

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenJohn Cotton (forefront) and Ricky Hyland are finding that the genetics John's father began cultivating in the 1960s is serving them well during a time when feed costs and other types of beef production inputs are at all-time highs.

As John Cotton and Rick Hyland walk through the midst of their cattle, the South Dakota farmers see much more than the moderate-framed, docile black Angus grazing in their pastures. Both men, who have partnered in several ways in their beef production for the past 15 years, see a heritage of careful and consistent breeding that has proven to be a profitable production program for more than 40 years.

“My dad, Sheldon, bought his first Wye-based Angus in 1965,” Cotton, who farms outside Volga, says. “At that time, everyone was concerned about functional cattle. It seemed to make sense to produce a moderate-size female that had strong maternal instincts and was easy calving.”

Wye Angus was developed from 1938 to 1979 on the Wye Plantation owned by Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Houghton and Jim B. Lingle, the farm’s manager. The herd was founded with 18 registered yearling heifers and one bull. Ten of the heifers were half-sisters, sharing the same sire, and no other females were ever introduced to the herd. This accounts for the consistent characteristics of the bloodline’s progeny.

Between 1942 and 1958, the Wye Plantation imported 19 bulls from the British Isles, which were responsible for approximately 75 percent of the germ plasm in the existing herd. In 1958, the Wye Angus herd was closed to any additional germ plasm. It was reopened briefly to half the herd in order to complete a research project and has remained closed ever since. The herd was gifted to the University of Maryland in 1979, where they continue to be managed and provide research data.

“I made my first trip to Maryland and the Wye Plantation in 1970,” Cotton says. “I was pretty young then, but it was a real learning opportunity for me. I just kept my mouth shut and listened. There were other Angus producers over the years that served as good mentors to both dad and me. Tom Elliott of Montana’s N-Bar Ranch, Dwight Riggleman, Bud Severson, Martin Jorgensen and David Pingrey were all committed to produce moderate-framed, easy-fleshing cattle and not follow the wave of change that led cattlemen to breed larger and larger cattle.”

In 1982, Cotton was ready to begin his own production program and purchased four of his father’s “most elite” females. He also bought two Wye cows and two N-Bar cows.

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“My prized herd of eight females was exclusively Wye, Jorgensen and N-Bar breeding,” he says. “In 1990 I traveled to Wyoming and purchased 10 more heifers from Larry Leonhardt’s Shoshone breeding that fit well with my herd. Four of those heifers have proven to have highly maternal influences. I got to know Larry pretty well and tried to absorb the insight he offered.”

In the 90s, Ricky Hyland, who farms near Ramona, bought his first cattle from his grandfather. He didn’t plan to own registered cattle, but when he began purchasing some of Cotton’s bulls, he soon recognized the quality of the females the bulls were producing.

“In 2000, I started buying all my bred heifers from John,” Hyland says. “I was impressed with his genetics, the Aberdeen Angus. I really respect his eye for cattle and the experience he has in beef production.”

As John Cotton and Rick Hyland walk through the midst of their cattle, the South Dakota farmers see much more than the moderate-framed, docile black Angus grazing in their pastures. Both men, who have partnered in several ways in their beef production for the past 15 years, see a heritage of careful and consistent breeding that has proven to be a profitable production program for more than 40 years.

“My dad, Sheldon, bought his first Wye-based Angus in 1965,” Cotton, who farms outside Volga, says. “At that time, everyone was concerned about functional cattle. It seemed to make sense to produce a moderate-size female that had strong maternal instincts and was easy calving.”

Wye Angus was developed from 1938 to 1979 on the Wye Plantation owned by Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Houghton and Jim B. Lingle, the farm’s manager. The herd was founded with 18 registered yearling heifers and one bull. Ten of the heifers were half-sisters, sharing the same sire, and no other females were ever introduced to the herd. This accounts for the consistent characteristics of the bloodline’s progeny.

Between 1942 and 1958, the Wye Plantation imported 19 bulls from the British Isles, which were responsible for approximately 75 percent of the germ plasm in the existing herd. In 1958, the Wye Angus herd was closed to any additional germ plasm. It was reopened briefly to half the herd in order to complete a research project and has remained closed ever since. The herd was gifted to the University of Maryland in 1979, where they continue to be managed and provide research data.

“I made my first trip to Maryland and the Wye Plantation in 1970,” Cotton says. “I was pretty young then, but it was a real learning opportunity for me. I just kept my mouth shut and listened. There were other Angus producers over the years that served as good mentors to both dad and me. Tom Elliott of Montana’s N-Bar Ranch, Dwight Riggleman, Bud Severson, Martin Jorgensen and David Pingrey were all committed to produce moderate-framed, easy-fleshing cattle and not follow the wave of change that led cattlemen to breed larger and larger cattle.”

In 1982, Cotton was ready to begin his own production program and purchased four of his father’s “most elite” females. He also bought two Wye cows and two N-Bar cows.

“My prized herd of eight females was exclusively Wye, Jorgensen and N-Bar breeding,” he says. “In 1990 I traveled to Wyoming and purchased 10 more heifers from Larry Leonhardt’s Shoshone breeding that fit well with my herd. Four of those heifers have proven to have highly maternal influences. I got to know Larry pretty well and tried to absorb the insight he offered.”

In the 90s, Ricky Hyland, who farms near Ramona, bought his first cattle from his grandfather. He didn’t plan to own registered cattle, but when he began purchasing some of Cotton’s bulls, he soon recognized the quality of the females the bulls were producing.

“In 2000, I started buying all my bred heifers from John,” Hyland says. “I was impressed with his genetics, the Aberdeen Angus. I really respect his eye for cattle and the experience he has in beef production.”

As John Cotton and Rick Hyland walk through the midst of their cattle, the South Dakota farmers see much more than the moderate-framed, docile black Angus grazing in their pastures. Both men, who have partnered in several ways in their beef production for the past 15 years, see a heritage of careful and consistent breeding that has proven to be a profitable production program for more than 40 years.

“My dad, Sheldon, bought his first Wye-based Angus in 1965,” Cotton, who farms outside Volga, says. “At that time, everyone was concerned about functional cattle. It seemed to make sense to produce a moderate-size female that had strong maternal instincts and was easy calving.”

Wye Angus was developed from 1938 to 1979 on the Wye Plantation owned by Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Houghton and Jim B. Lingle, the farm’s manager. The herd was founded with 18 registered yearling heifers and one bull. Ten of the heifers were half-sisters, sharing the same sire, and no other females were ever introduced to the herd. This accounts for the consistent characteristics of the bloodline’s progeny.

Between 1942 and 1958, the Wye Plantation imported 19 bulls from the British Isles, which were responsible for approximately 75 percent of the germ plasm in the existing herd. In 1958, the Wye Angus herd was closed to any additional germ plasm. It was reopened briefly to half the herd in order to complete a research project and has remained closed ever since. The herd was gifted to the University of Maryland in 1979, where they continue to be managed and provide research data.

“I made my first trip to Maryland and the Wye Plantation in 1970,” Cotton says. “I was pretty young then, but it was a real learning opportunity for me. I just kept my mouth shut and listened. There were other Angus producers over the years that served as good mentors to both dad and me. Tom Elliott of Montana’s N-Bar Ranch, Dwight Riggleman, Bud Severson, Martin Jorgensen and David Pingrey were all committed to produce moderate-framed, easy-fleshing cattle and not follow the wave of change that led cattlemen to breed larger and larger cattle.”

In 1982, Cotton was ready to begin his own production program and purchased four of his father’s “most elite” females. He also bought two Wye cows and two N-Bar cows.

“My prized herd of eight females was exclusively Wye, Jorgensen and N-Bar breeding,” he says. “In 1990 I traveled to Wyoming and purchased 10 more heifers from Larry Leonhardt’s Shoshone breeding that fit well with my herd. Four of those heifers have proven to have highly maternal influences. I got to know Larry pretty well and tried to absorb the insight he offered.”

In the 90s, Ricky Hyland, who farms near Ramona, bought his first cattle from his grandfather. He didn’t plan to own registered cattle, but when he began purchasing some of Cotton’s bulls, he soon recognized the quality of the females the bulls were producing.

“In 2000, I started buying all my bred heifers from John,” Hyland says. “I was impressed with his genetics, the Aberdeen Angus. I really respect his eye for cattle and the experience he has in beef production.”

As John Cotton and Rick Hyland walk through the midst of their cattle, the South Dakota farmers see much more than the moderate-framed, docile black Angus grazing in their pastures. Both men, who have partnered in several ways in their beef production for the past 15 years, see a heritage of careful and consistent breeding that has proven to be a profitable production program for more than 40 years.

“My dad, Sheldon, bought his first Wye-based Angus in 1965,” Cotton, who farms outside Volga, says. “At that time, everyone was concerned about functional cattle. It seemed to make sense to produce a moderate-size female that had strong maternal instincts and was easy calving.”

Wye Angus was developed from 1938 to 1979 on the Wye Plantation owned by Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Houghton and Jim B. Lingle, the farm’s manager. The herd was founded with 18 registered yearling heifers and one bull. Ten of the heifers were half-sisters, sharing the same sire, and no other females were ever introduced to the herd. This accounts for the consistent characteristics of the bloodline’s progeny.

Between 1942 and 1958, the Wye Plantation imported 19 bulls from the British Isles, which were responsible for approximately 75 percent of the germ plasm in the existing herd. In 1958, the Wye Angus herd was closed to any additional germ plasm. It was reopened briefly to half the herd in order to complete a research project and has remained closed ever since. The herd was gifted to the University of Maryland in 1979, where they continue to be managed and provide research data.

“I made my first trip to Maryland and the Wye Plantation in 1970,” Cotton says. “I was pretty young then, but it was a real learning opportunity for me. I just kept my mouth shut and listened. There were other Angus producers over the years that served as good mentors to both dad and me. Tom Elliott of Montana’s N-Bar Ranch, Dwight Riggleman, Bud Severson, Martin Jorgensen and David Pingrey were all committed to produce moderate-framed, easy-fleshing cattle and not follow the wave of change that led cattlemen to breed larger and larger cattle.”

In 1982, Cotton was ready to begin his own production program and purchased four of his father’s “most elite” females. He also bought two Wye cows and two N-Bar cows.

“My prized herd of eight females was exclusively Wye, Jorgensen and N-Bar breeding,” he says. “In 1990 I traveled to Wyoming and purchased 10 more heifers from Larry Leonhardt’s Shoshone breeding that fit well with my herd. Four of those heifers have proven to have highly maternal influences. I got to know Larry pretty well and tried to absorb the insight he offered.”

In the 90s, Ricky Hyland, who farms near Ramona, bought his first cattle from his grandfather. He didn’t plan to own registered cattle, but when he began purchasing some of Cotton’s bulls, he soon recognized the quality of the females the bulls were producing.

“In 2000, I started buying all my bred heifers from John,” Hyland says. “I was impressed with his genetics, the Aberdeen Angus. I really respect his eye for cattle and the experience he has in beef production.”

More information about Cotton, Hyland and their cattle is available at http://www.hylandangus.com.

This article appears in the 2009 Winter Cattle Journal, a publication of Tri-State Livestock News.

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