Colorado Simmental Association honors Jim Docheff, Bill Sparks

Bill Sparks and Jim Docheff, shown manning a 1980 National Western Stock Show booth.

Colorado Simmental Association honored two of its founders, plus recognized an outstanding breeder and youth in conjunction with Simmental’s 2019 National Western Stock Show activities.

Jim Docheff of Longmont and Bill Sparks of Springfield, who received CSA’s Pioneer Award, helped bring Simmental to the West. When CSA formed in 1970, Docheff and Sparks both provided leadership skills. “Their names are intertwined with the breed’s development and we owe a debt of gratitude to these honorees,” CSA president Jay Hill of Sterling said as he made the Jan. 22 presentation. “CSA historic files show they both were instrumental in so many early efforts.”

In 1974, when Docheff was president and Sparks was vice-president, they represented CSA at the national convention, then in Louisville, KY. While there, they put in a successful bid to host the American Simmental Association convention. Sparks managed that convention in 1976 in Denver.

The pair continued their service to the board, plus they promoted using Simmental through marketing campaigns, booths and shows. They ran the first breed booth at National Western Stock Show in 1975. They encouraged the genetics, were instrumental in getting Simmental recognized at the major shows, and helped coordinate inaugural breed events.

The Docheff family, ASA member #919, continues to use Simmental semen, plus they operate a well-known dairy in Longmont. “I still breed some of my Holstein dairy cows to Simmental bulls through AI. I truly believe in the Simmental breed. I believe it is and always will be the breed of the future,” Docheff said.

Sparks said he also still uses SimGenetics in his family’s 300-cow operation near Springfield. In addition, Sparks ran a successful auction business. Although since retired, Bill Sparks put on his auctioneer hat once again to sell the donation lot at the start of the 2019 Wild, Wild West sale. The lot, a new Chart tank filled with 70 straws of Simmental semen donated by sale consignors, raised $2500 when Sparks banged his gavel. Proceeds are earmarked for youth scholarships and defraying CSA’s National Western activities.

In addition to the Pioneer Awards, CSA presented an Outstanding Breeder honor to Bridle Bit Simmentals. Bridle Bit, owned and operated by Erroll Cook and sons, began when Erroll was introduced to Simmental genetics as one of the early AI technicians while earning his bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University in 1969. The family has a long history of service and involvement, which continued when they moved back to southeast Colorado in 1986. The Cook family has excelled with both their ranch and their fuel station at Walsh, with many family members involved in both businesses.

“Chad has especially ramped up their cattle program,” Hill said. “They are one of ASA’s Performance Advocate qualifiers, plus their sale bulls are now being developed using a GrowSafe system to gain additional feed efficiency data. Another example is in their 2018 All-Terrain Bull Sale, where their sale topper brought $32,000, showing the demand for their cattle.”

Other honors were bestowed on the youth. Bryce Hill was selected as CSA’s Youth of the Year, the state’s equivalent of ASA’s Bronze Merit, plus Hill was one of three CSA scholarship recipients. Hill, of Sterling, is heading to Northwest College at Powell, Wyo., on a livestock judging scholarship. He is in his second term as Colorado Junior Simmental’s president, and was thanked for his assistance at both the Junior Extravaganza multi-breed field day and Colorado State Fair.

Other $500 CSA scholarship recipients were Bradie Midcap of Wray and Riley Maranville of Ramah.

The awards were among many National Western events. Simmental activities included bull and female pen shows, People’s Choice Power Simmental, a junior Progress-Through-Performance show, open-class PTP bull and female shows, and two sales.

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