Herefords still a breed of choice
When Stuart and Lea Isaac of Hillsboro took over the family farm after the death of his father, Irwin, four years ago, they decided to start a cowherd.
“If we are going to have cows, I want them to be Herefords,” Lea told Stuart.
She grew up in western Kansas, where her father managed a ranch that stocked 300 Hereford cows. She often rode with him to check the cows and learned to love the Hereford breed.
“They have the cutest of all calves,” she said.
The Isaacs found a Hereford breeder at Falun southwest of Salina and purchased 25 purebred, registered cow-calf pairs and two bulls. The cattle run in two pastures of native grass north of Durham.
Calves are born in February and March and weaned in November, when the cattle are taken off grass and put in adjacent winter lots.
The house is rented out, so they have a small, heated building to use when out at the farm and during calving season.
Lea claims several cows and calves as pets and sometimes feeds them treats.
“Some people think I’m silly, but I think they are sweet,” she said.
The herd has grown to 30 head, the optimal number that can be maintained on the acres they have, Stuart said.
Some calves are kept back to replace cows that are sold. They are registered, tattooed, and branded with a Double II brand. The others are kept on wheat pasture all winter and sold as feeder calves at the Manhattan sale barn in March.
“We go there because there are a lot of Herefords around Manhattan and we can get a better price,” Stuart said.
He found out there is a demand for Hereford heifers, young females. They bring an above market price and go back to the farm to become part of a cowherd.
The Isaacs were pleased to have a 100 percent calf crop last year.
They kept back one yearling bull from each of the two groups of cows a year ago. They will be registered and replace the original bulls, which now are 6 or 7 years old.
“Herefords are gentle, but they have a good memory when it comes to going into a squeeze chute,” Stuart said. “My wife won’t let me use a hot shot, so it is a challenge.”
The farm they inherited was homesteaded by his great-grandfather. Stuart is the fourth generation to own the land. He does some farming in addition to the cattle.
The Isaacs own Supreme Floor Company in Hillsboro. Their son, Alex, is an EMT for Hillsboro and Marion. A daughter lives in Moundridge and has four children.
Last modified Nov. 9, 2017