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Courtney, Duncan, Harrell and Micheli inducted into Hereford Hall of Fame

October 28, 2021

Jim Courtney, Alzada, Mont.; Lawrence Duncan, Wingate, Ind.; Bob Harrell, Baker City, Ore.; and Dale Micheli, Fort Bridger, Wyo., were inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame Oct. 23 in Kansas City, Mo., during the American Hereford Association (AHA) Annual Meeting and Conference. 

The Hall of Fame honor annually recognizes breeders who have dynamically influenced the direction and advancement of the Hereford breed.

“We congratulate these four men for the impact they have made on the Hereford breed,” Jack Ward, AHA chief executive officer, said. “Their dedication to the breed is inspiring, and I am honored to induct them into the Hereford Hall of Fame.”

Jim Courtney

In 1916, Jim’s father homesteaded the land in southeastern Montana that is now Courtney Herefords. Eventually, his father purchased adjoining land in 1929 right before the GreatDepression. Despite the hard times, Jim’s parents raised sheep and kept the ranch together through the 1930s. Jim graduated from Carter County High School, where he met his future wife, Hazel. He was the 1950 Carter County class salutatorian, but did not go to college. Instead, he returned home to help his parents run the ranch. He continued to build his knowledge and gain insight to the livestock industry by attending many Extension classes related to sheep and cattle breeding. However, Jim credits most of his knowledge to direct experience on the ranch. When Jim and Hazel married in 1953, there was not a cow or bull on the place — just 1,000-1,500 head of sheep. 

In 1957, Jim’s friendship with neighbor, Walt Crago, led to the beginning of Courtney Herefords. Walt raised registered Herefords and offered to lease 40 heifers to Jim. All were half-sisters making a solid genetic foundation for the start of the future Courtney herd. Jim leased the Hereford females for three years, retained the heifer calves and sent the bull calves to Walt. The semi-arid, Badlands grassland and limited water resources where the Courtneys reside was considered traditional sheep country since the early days of open range and early settlement. Yet, through diligent stewardship of land and water, Jim established a registered Hereford cow herd and built one of the breed’s most respected seedstock programs in this challenging environment. In both the cattle and sheep industries, the Courtney brand is recognized for outstanding quality and functional, efficient stock that fit their climate — the result of a good stockman’s eye and a continued quest to improve performance with each generation.

With more than 50 years dedicated to its breeding program, Courtney Herefords became one of the most unique gene pools in the American Hereford breed. Founded upon the Real Prince Domino bloodlines from Canada’s premier herds, Jim built his program on structured line-breeding and outcrossing based on time-proven genetics. Courtney’s range country environment and the needs of their bull customers strictly dictate the direction of their breeding plan. This is a true grass and cake outfit featuring a factory of great, problem-free, efficient mother cows that hustled, calved on the range and grazed out year round.

The Courtney brand is recognized for powerful, traditional Hereford cattle — multitrait Herefords that accentuated the breed’s long-proven strengths for soundness, fleshing ability, fertility and longevity. Loaded with quality, they were backed by the impressive Britisher, Ardmore and Standard Lad sires in North America. Courtney has a complete and thorough knowledge of Canadian Hereford genetics. He knows the cow herds across Alberta as well as any in North America, evaluating them through the eyes of an American cowman, which benefits his program and customers. Jim became the American Hereford Association (AHA) president in 1999 at a time when the Hereford breed needed him most. Jim was a fighter for his industry. Serving several turns as an officer of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and on the board of directors of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Jim is known as a man of integrity who will fight for the betterment of the industry. His no-nonsense style and straight-to-the-point attitude is, and has always been, about taking the side of the cattlemen. Deep down, Jim always knows that you have to fight to sustain an economic and political environment for ranchers. His family has depended on it. As it relates to the Hereford breed, Jim helped drive the AHA to focus on the needs of the commercial cow-calf industry.

 

Lawrence Duncan 

Born in 1935, Lawrence Duncan was raised on the family farm in Montgomery County, Indiana, where his parents raised registered Duroc hogs and draft horses. At the age of 10, Lawrence began showing Hereford heifers and steers in 4-H at the county and state fairs. After graduating from high school in 1954, he attended Purdue University, majoring in animal husbandry. He married his wife, Petzi, and they honeymooned at the Fort Worth Stock Show, during his senior year of college. Following graduation from Purdue, the newlyweds moved into his parents’ house and began farming. 

In order to buy a place for him and his new bride, Lawrence held his first Hereford sale in 1958. The high-seller went for $1,200. From the beginning, he found the most difficult part of hosting sales came down to organization, particularly organizing help and all of the cattle. Lawrence learned it was necessary to improve the cattle handling equipment and facilities to make it all work. Even after 48 sales, Lawrence was still learning and improving. 

Lawrence’s dad, Harvey, always said, “If you’re able to farm, you should pursue it.” While waiting in line for stalls, it occurred to Harvey that nearly everything was done alphabetically. If their name started with an ‘A,’ it would be listed first. The name Able Acres fit both criteria, so their prefix was ‘AA’ from then on. Today, Able Acres consists of 140-150 cows, along with 2,200 acres of row crops and hay. Not only has the farm expanded — so has the Duncan family. Through the years, Lawrence and Petzi welcomed five children: four sons, Lary, Gary, David and Andy; and one daughter, Caril. All five children own Hereford cattle and take pride in their involvement in the industry. There are eight grandchildren who also have connections to Lawrence’s legacy of owning and raising Hereford cattle. 

Lawrence credited his longevity in the Hereford industry to two things: quality genetics and quality relationships. The Duncans have continually adopted new technologies through the years, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET). Lawrence was an innovator in the Hereford breed. His peers, Ray Ramsey, Bruce Everhart and Rick Davis, credit his efforts to getting more youth involved and educated in the cattle industry. By providing opportunities to work alongside him and get involved in their program, anyone willing to listen was welcomed by Lawrence. He is remembered for doing it the right way, treating people the right way and setting the standard for others to follow. Able Acres utilizes all the tools available to provide reliable, honest and quality genetics that have been sold to buyers throughout the United States. 

Lawrence and his family were early adopters of collecting performance data and have been dedicated supporters of the American Hereford Association’s (AHA) Whole Herd Total Performance Records (TPR.) program. In addition, Able Acres has been performance testing bulls through the Indiana Bull Evaluation Program (IBEP) for many years. The IBEP has provided valuable data and has helped the Lawrence family continually improve their operation through the years. 

Lawrence passed in April 2020 and is being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame. Lawrence was a dedicated grain and livestock farmer whose passion was breeding Hereford cattle. His farm, Able Acres, received six Golden Bull Awards from the AHA. Lawrence was selected by his peers to receive the Robert C. Peterson Lynnwood Farm Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. In 2019 Lawrence was inducted into the Indiana Livestock Breeders Hall of Fame

 

Bob Harrell

In 1870 the ancestors of Bob Harrell, Jr., traveled in a covered wagon across the historic Oregon Trail to Baker City, Ore. His parents, Bob and Edna Harrell, established Harrell Hereford Ranch along the foothills of Baker Valley, in the high-country of Eastern Oregon, three generations later. Today, Harrell Hereford Ranch is a family run operation, managed by the fifth and sixth generation of Harrells, consisting of Bob Jr.; his wife, Becky; and daughter, Lexie. Bob was raised in Baker City and graduated from Baker High School. After graduation, he attended Oregon State University for two years, and then transferred to Kansas State University (K-State). At K-State, Bob competed on the livestock judging team and earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science.

The cattle ranch originated in 1970 with 80 acres and 100 head of Hereford cows purchased from Harold Thompson’s TT Herefords in Connell, Wash. Under Bob’s management, the ranch has grown to six ranches and currently consists of 400 registered Hereford cows, 400 black baldy commercial cows, a 1,000-head backgrounding feedlot and 25 Quarter Horse broodmares. The cattle run on 8,000 acres of high-desert, native range. With the help of six employees, the Harrells also manage 3,000 irrigated, tillable acres of alfalfa and meadow hay, pasture, corn silage, earlage and small grains. The Harrell herd has been enrolled in performance testing since its inception in 1970, and for more than 51 years, the goal has been to produce performance cattle that work under a variety of management systems and branded beef programs.

Bob was on the American Hereford Association Board of Directors from 2006 to 2010. The success of those years was largely driven by a strategic planning effort in 2005, which Bob helped lead. During that time, while chairing the Marketing Committee, he was at the center of the technology revolution, which included the explosive influence of the internet. AHA led the industry, delivering new online tools for producer data exchange. These years also brought about the advent of breeding system economic selection indexes and novel, economically relevant maternal traits.

The discovery and disclosure of genetic abnormalities evolved during this time, as well as the very beginnings of genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (EPDs), which changed the game in terms of selection accuracy of younger seedstock prospects.

For years, Bob and his family at Harrell Hereford Ranch worked with industry partners to co-host cattlemen from across the western U.S. at their annual “Cattlemen Workshop.” He has been a leader willing to educate himself and share with others ways to remain economically successful and fundamentally sustainable in an ever changing business environment. All these leadership qualities are what made Harrell Hereford Ranch a cornerstone Hereford seedstock operation in the western states. The genetic influence of the Harrell Hereford Ranch has been felt in commercial cowherds across the country. Bob’s contribution to the industry drove Harrell Hereford Ranch’s recognition as the 2009 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Seedstock Producer of the Year — one of the most prestigious recognitions bestowed upon a seedstock operation.

 

Dale Micheli 

Rolling grasslands punctuated with sagebrush and the Uinta Mountains serve as the backdrop to Micheli Hereford Ranch in southwestern Wyoming. In 1917, Joseph Micheli bought the family’s first Hereford cattle. Dale Micheli learned to love the Hereford breed from his grandfather, Joseph. As a little boy, Dale accompanied his grandfather each day and watched as Joseph painstakingly fed each bull a “little handful” of grain. Dale never forgot the effort and care his grandfather gave to his treasured bulls.

For many years, the Micheli Family hauled their prized bulls to consignment sales. When Dale came home from college, he was determined to increase herd numbers and dramatically upgrade the genetics of the registered Herefords. He wanted to honor his grandfather by making the purebred cattle a major business on the ranch. Dale began to study pedigrees and work on adding dynamic females to the herd. He invested in prominent sires and implemented artificial insemination (AI) and then added an embryo transfer (ET) program. In 1989, the ranch held its first production sale. Thirty years later, Dale and his brother, Ron, and their sons, Kyle and Tony, who are the fifth generation, have been successfully selling up to 50 Hereford bulls each year. 

Dale graduated with honors from the University of Wyoming, where he was successful in both livestock and meat judging. He has continued to judge livestock throughout the years and has had the privilege of judging national Hereford shows at Fort Worth, Reno, The Cow Palace, San Antonio and the National Western Stock Show. For more than 25 years, Dale coached 4-H and FFA livestock and meat judging teams. His state champion teams consistently placed in the top tier nationally. Whether it is coaching state champion teams or helping a kid with a heifer project, Dale always focuses his efforts on the next generation of farmers and ranchers. 

Beyond working with youth, Dale put in countless hours supporting the Hereford industry in Wyoming. Dale has always been engaged in promoting the Hereford breed and working with other breeders to promote the beef industry. He has been instrumental in hosting Hereford Field Days at his ranch, building the Hereford show at the Wyoming State Fair and finding ways to be active in all aspects of the Wyoming Hereford Association.

A major highlight in Dale’s life was serving on the American Hereford Association Board of Directors. It was an honor and privilege to visit ranches across the country and see the diversity and ingenuity of many great Hereford breeders. For three years, he served as chairman of Certified Hereford Beef, giving his leadership to impact the future.

Dale is a deeply religious man and volunteers and serves extensively in his church. The most important thing in Dale’s life is his family. Dale and his wife, Terry, are the proud parents of six children — Mandy, Kyle, Audrey, Nikki, Amber and Cami — and the grandparents of 13 grandchildren. Dale is rarely without the company of his grandkids in the tractor, where they sing songs and make frequent stops for treats.