The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame is a new program, launched this year to celebrate the rich traditions of the cattle-feeding industry and recognize individ-uals who have devoted their careers to pre-serving its mission and improving production practices. Early this spring, a committee nominated a handful of deserving individuals, and cattle feeders from around the country voted for their top two.
Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health sponsors the program and plans to hold a reception in June to formally announce the hall’s first two inductees: Paul Engler of Cactus Feeders Inc., Amarillo, Texas, and the late W.D. Farr of Greeley, Colo.
Drovers is proud to present profiles of the inductees, offering a glimpse at the business strategies that contributed to their long-term success.
Young cowboy goes far
Imagine it’s 1926. A 16-year-old high school student from a Greeley farm signs on for a summer job tending bred heifers in the high-mountain rangeland of western Colorado. He and another young man spend the summer under the open sky, calving 250 heifers, moving the herd to fresh grass and fending for themselves. After another year of school, he returned to do it again the following summer.
The young man was W.D. Farr, and those summers in the saddle were the beginning of an adventure that spanned the rest of the century, leaving a permanent stamp on the business of cattle feeding.
Farr, who passed away in August 2007 at the age of 97, is widely known as a pioneer in Colorado agriculture, with his career ranging across farming, ranching, cattle feeding, water development, banking and government. A modest effort to research his life uncovers enough prestigious awards and leadership positions to fill the space allotted for this article. So instead of listing them, we’ll focus on his work in cattle feeding, which led to his induction to the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
“Those summers in the mountains were a great learning experience for dad,” says his son Dick Farr, of Greeley. “That’s when he developed his love for cattle and interest in the cattle business.” W.D. wasn’t new to the livestock business. His father and grandfather operated a well-established sheep operation, with capacity for feeding up to 120,000 lambs in the Greeley area.
Following high school, W.D. briefly attended the University of Wisconsin before illness and the Great Depression brought him back to Colorado to work on the farm.
“In 1928,” Dick Farr says, “dad convinced his grandfather to add a few pens for finishing cattle.” Sensing an opportunity in cattle feeding, the family steadily added more cattle pens in the ensuing years, gradually shifting the business to cattle.