Bradley 3 Ranch: An industry example of quality and grit
Published on Wed, 12/11/2019 - 3:52pm
Bradley 3 Ranch: An Industry Example of Quality and Grit
By Ariana Bigham, Datamars Marketing Specialist
With roots dating back to the late 1800s, the Bradley 3 Ranch has a rich history in the cattle industry. Through embracing innovation and technology, the family ranch has grown from its humble beginnings to become one of the Angus breed’s strongest seedstock producers.
Angus genetics were first introduced on the ranch in the 1950s by the direction of the ranch’s matriarch Minnie Lou Bradley (formerly Minnie Lou Ottinger). The shift has been lasting – the ranch has now been producing high-quality Angus genetics for over 60 years.
The adoption of technology quickly followed the adoption of the Angus breed. The Bradleys began using data collection in the 1960s with the introduction of weighing their cattle. As one of the founding members of the Angus Association, Bill Bradley established a legacy of technology that would allow the ranch to thrive in even the toughest markets. “[Data collection] is the core of what we do,” said James Henderson, husband of Mary Lou Bradley-Henderson and board member of the American Angus Association. “Mary’s dad (Bill Bradley) was on the Angus board when expected progeny differences (EPDs) were developed [and] ultrasound technologies were developed and perfected on the ranch.”
This legacy continues with James and Mary Lou Henderson. “We’ve always tried to be on the front end of innovation and technology. That’s who we are,” explained Henderson.
This approach has allowed the Bradley 3 Ranch to remain customer centric. “Our goal is to raise cattle that make our customers money. Our challenge is to use what we’ve learned to help others and to help the industry to do more with less,” said Henderson. Data collection allows the ranch to make informed decisions about their cattle every day.
“We need to know our product can hold up and handle what we expect [our cattle] to do. We try to run things like a commercial operation to be like the operations our customer have,” explained Henderson. “Like us, most of our customers are in pretty harsh conditions, so we need to turn this data into useful information.”
The Hendersons run a tight 55-day breeding schedule which they are trying to trim even further to increase efficiencies. The ranch uses their own herd bulls and only artificially inseminate first calf heifers, all with the goal of maintaining strong genetics that perform to the ranch’s high standards.
The Hendersons also run grass-gain and grain-gain tests on the bull calves to measure performance. “We have four hydraulic chutes on the ranch and every one of them has a scale underneath of it,” said Henderson. Weighing their cattle frequently allows the Hendersons to carefully measure performance, giving them enough insight to know return on investment (ROI) on each individual animal.
The foundation of all data collection is identification. The key to using data is knowing exactly which data belong to which animal. To ensure proper identification, the Hendersons use matched visual and electronic ear tags that also match the animal’s tattoo number and brand. The ranch has been trusting the quality of Temple Tag for years.
“We’ve been using [Temple Tag ComfortEar®] electronic identification tags (EID) now for 15 years. We need a better way to transfer data and EID is that mechanism,” stated Henderson.
When looking at challenges currently facing the industry, Henderson said the top two are the availability of capital for younger generations and quality, knowledgeable labor to work the cattle. “Increasing efficiency is key to addressing these challenges. How do we feed 9 billion people with less land? We’re all going to have to be better adopters of technology.”
Henderson is hopeful, though, in the face of this daunting task. “We can do it – we’ll figure it out. We’re already producing more beef with less cattle. The younger generation is smart. They will find a solution.”
It is clear the need for innovative technology has never been higher. Like the Bradley 3 Ranch, cattle producers continue to rely on quality tools that give them the insights necessary to keep their operations running as efficiently as possible. Datamars Livestock, a division of Datamars, is committed to this goal. This family of brands brings together Z Tags and Temple Tag identification technology, Tru-Test livestock scales and waterer solutions, and Speedrite and Patriot electric fencing to provide the highest-quality tools to help producers continue to meet the protein needs of an ever-growing population.