The Look: Hennessy bull wins 2022 BHSS Supreme Champion title 

The Hennessy family wins 2022 Black Hills Stock Show Supreme Champion Bull. Photo by Legacy Livestock Imaging. 

When Jay Hennessy saw the bull calf raised on the Hennessy ranch near Des Lacs, N.D., in the spring of 2020, he knew the calf had potential.   

“He had the look,” he said. “He had that something that would work pretty good for the Rapid City (Black Hills) Stock Show.” 

And that Simmental calf, named FHEN Four Bears, fulfilled Hennessy’s prophecy, winning Supreme Champion Bull at the 2022 BHSS.  

Hennessy, his wife Karen, and their daughters Shelby and Aspen and sons Tucker, Fletcher, Eli and Sutton, have been in the Simmental business for the past 30 years.  

The bull is a half-brother to Halftime, a well-known Simmental sire who won the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, Kentucky in 2015. The bull’s dam was purchased by the Hennessys as a heifer calf, from Steve Reimer in 2012.  

Four Bears has everything Hennessy looks for in his bulls. “Number one, I’m looking for soundness,” he said. “They have to be right on their feet and legs. It all starts from the ground up. And they have to have a little cushion in their hind legs, they have to have the muscle pattern and be fairly decent fronted, with some middle and body to them.”  

When he looked at this bull, he knew he was the whole package. “When we really evaluated this bull, he had all the pieces.”  

In Rapid City last February, Hennessy knew it could be tough going, once Four Bears won the Simmental show and got into the Supreme Row.  

“There are some competitive and tough breeders (at the BHSS). Chris Effling and Troy Thomas, two close friends of mine, always bring good ones. They come to win, and they come to make a mark, so I knew we had to be twelve o’clock to do what we were going to do.”  

The win was satisfying because the embryo calf was raised on the ranch, which has sixty head of purebred cows. “In Rapid City, you compete against some of the bigger outfits, some that raise 1,000 cows. It’s an accomplishment that feels pretty good.”  

For son Fletcher, who showed Four Bears in the supreme contest, the title was even more significant. Fletcher showed Four Bears’ dam as his junior show heifer several years ago. “I’ve always given him the opportunity, since (the bull’s dam) was his junior show heifer,” Jay said. “I think it was a big thrill for him, and as a parent, watching that, that’s pretty exciting.”  

Four Bears sold for $16,500 and was purchased by a Simmental breeder in North Dakota.  

The Hennessys have an annual online heifer sale and sell heifers to junior members across the country. They also sell private treaty bulls or consign them to various shows and sales.  

The family loves showing at the BHSS.  

“The Stock Show is like no other,” Jay said. “That’s a class act cattle show right there. The hospitality is next to none, the facility is unbelievable, and the atmosphere is very welcoming. We go there as a family and spend the weekend. There are rodeos to go to, the cattle shows, it all ties together. It’s a good weekend.”  

Winning supreme was an adrenaline rush, Hennessy said. “You don’t realize how big a rush it is until you’re in that moment.”  

Hennessy spent some of his young adult years working for the Yackley Ranch in South Dakota and has many friends from the state. “I knew a lot of those guys in South Dakota, and to this day, we’re lifetime friends.”  

“It’s fun to go back to Rapid City and show against them. It’s like a big reunion. And when the shows are over, everybody’s happy for everybody.”