Cattle ranch of the week: Baker Hereford Ranch

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The Ken Baker Hereford Ranch was founded shortly after Ken Baker returned to Ada, Minnesota from his tour of duty in World War II. He began farming raising wheat, barley, corn and sugar beets, along with milking cows and starting his purebred Hereford herd.

Foundation cattle for this new herd were purchased from the Pronger Brothers in Texas and the famed Turned Ranch in Oklahoma. From the beginning Ken selected only the very best cattle that he could find, regardless of the distance he had to travel.

Early herd sires came from the Turner Ranch as well as the notable Hull Dobbs Ranch in Texas. Several sons of the historic HDR Real Onward 166 were used as well as Mark Donald bulls and Mark Piegan 73. These cattle served the industry well but from the middle 1960’s to the late 1960’s a change was in the air for Ken. With his sons now being active in both farming and the livestock, Ken set out to take his herd to an entirely new level. It was their desire to make this herd one of the premier performance oriented herds not only in the US but worldwide as well.

Ken realized from the very beginning that it took more than just great bulls to build a herd, it took exceptional cows. Some significant cow purchases in volume were from SS Herefords in Washington. These cows were old line Mark Donald as well as old line Selkirk breeding. A Denver top seller in L1 Domino 241 came from these cows that sold and left his mark in the Sellman herds in Nebraska. A pot load of the top cows from the Higgins Brothers herd in Montana was also added, these were great cows of Mark Donald, Don Hartland, and Mark Piegan breeding that crossed extremely well with the Line One bulls. Ken also took the opportunity to purchase two large groups of cows from the Miles City Research Station that included some of the very top cows they had at that time. A purchase of historic importance also came from Montana when Ken went to the herd of Stan Lund and purchased two groups of some of his top producing cows. Ken’s purchase of the Lund cows marked the first that any Lund cattle had sold out of Montana. The Miles City and Lund cows marked the first straight Line One cows to come to Minnesota and then some of the first to be in South Dakota where Ken relocated the ranch in 1975. Ken was later able to purchase nearly an entire cow family from Stan Lund that the Bakers thought was his best. From that cow family came KB L1 Domino 249 purchased in Denver by Norgren Cattle Co. of Colorado. 294 set a record in Denver for having the highest WDA at that time. The 241 bull mentioned earlier to Sellmans also set a Denver record for ribeye measurement. 294’s maternal brother 350 sold to the noted V Bar Ranch in Texas the next year in Denver.

One thing has held true in the Ken Baker herd from the beginning, that being, every herd sire used in the herd would come from an outstanding cow and cow family. "We feel that this more than anything else has had a lasting impact on our ability to stay in business," says Jim Baker. "We have never selected for "a trait" but rather for cattle that have the ability to make people money wherever they are used in the food chain. Hereford cattle have done that for us."

Since 1946 Ken Baker’s dreams and goals have become realities but more than anything else his love of God, family and hard work have made Baker Hereford Ranch what it is today.

For more information visit www.BakerHerefords.com.

 



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