Breeder Spotlight: Becket Farms

The first Miniature Herefords came to Becket Farms in the fall of 2000. The school, which is part of the Becket Family of Services, purchased 4 bred heifers and leased a bull from Roy Largent, Point of Rocks Ranch. Today we have 55 Minis, 14 full size Polled Herefords, and 1 Gelbvieh. The farm and school sit on 2200 acres in west central New Hampshire. Much of our land is wooded, so in addition to the farm, forestry and wildlife programs are also offered here.

The Miniature Herefords are a great fit for our students, most of whom have no farm experience. Our school provides a residential treatment program for boys with emotional handicaps and learning disabilities who have had problems in their communities and public schools. We use the animals and land to teach the value of work, cooperation, and education. Students help with all the farm chores from the laying hens to the cattle. They plant and maintain a garden, split and stack firewood, build and repair fences, and help get the hay in. They also care for the “kid-friendly” animals – 2 goats, 2 sheep, 2 donkeys, and Robert Redford, our old rooster who is often carried around by the boys and even comes to class occasionally.

Since most of our kids have no experience with cattle and are easily freaked out by their horns, we decided to start dehorning all the calves in 2003 and to introduce the polled gene into the herd. We purchased 10 units of SSR Con Trace 251 from John and Betty Johnson of Straitside Ranch, Sequim Washington, that we used on both the Minis and the big Herefords.

That resulted in 2 Mini heifers and 3 “half Mini” heifers – 3 were polled.

We then purchased a polled bull from Jeff and Susie Sedillos in Colorado. SLCC Tug-O-War, a son of LS Rock On and out of Miss Goldie Girl, made quite an impact in our herd.
In addition to the polled gene, he added width, thickness, and style to our cattle. We currently have 10 Tug daughters and 1 young bull, Becket Liberty 144G, who is servicing a group of cows and heifers this summer. In the summer of 2007, Roy Largent took Tug o Texas to bring polled genetics into his herd. Tragically, Tug was lost in an accident about a year later.

After using Tug for 3 breeding seasons, we leased LPF Slick Willy from Tom Harrison of Little Pond Farm in Eagle Bridge, New York. Willy is a son of “Micro”, Ozark MTN King H218, and out of LC Ozark MT Queen H113. After two calving seasons, we have 13 polled Willy heifers in the herd. His calves are much like the Tugs – thick, wide, and stylish. Willy’s son, Becket Legend 173H, is for sale. Legend is a yearling maternal brother to Liberty out of one of our foundation cows, Lucy.

Our third polled bull is MMF George 061, bred by Art and Gloria Menard of Munchkin Farm in Clarendon Springs, VT, and purchased from Tom Harrison. George is a favorite with the boys because of his great disposition. His sire is “Vindicator”, LS Ozark MT 2K36, and he is out of MMF Icy. Our first George calves arrived this Spring and look very good.

Willy and George are now both owned jointly with Tom Harrison. As part of The Bull Project, a special project with our advanced students, we have drawn semen from both bulls and have it for sale.

LS Miss Oak Mount 8J61 (Lucy) and LS Manzanita 82K6 have become the foundation of our top two cow families. We currently have 17 members of the Lucy family in the herd covering 5 generations. We have not been quite so lucky getting females from the Manzanita line, but what they lack in numbers, they make up in quality.

As we look to the future of our herd and Miniature Herefords in general, we see a need for more information on the cattle. We have enrolled the herd in the AHA Whole Herd Total Performance Records Program and hope that other breeders will participate in that program or something similar. EPDs will give us much more information on which to base breeding and culling decisions. However, we need many more Minis enrolled in order for the EPDs to have real meaning. Shows are a wonderful way to promote and compare cattle and to enjoy the social aspect of owning Minis, but we really need more than shows to advance Miniature Hereford genetics.

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