February 20, 2017
Frank Felton (1940-2003) was an internationally acclaimed Hereford breeder and a pioneer in the use of performance testing data and genetics. He spent his life promoting the Hereford breed, traveling throughout the world speaking on livestock issues and serving as president of numerous agriculture-related organizations.
Felton was proud to be a fourth-generation Missouri farmer and cattleman. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to conserve and improve the land on which he and his family made their living. Felton was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Lynn, centered their operation in Maryville. There, they raised two sons, Jay and Matthew, and two daughters, Allison and Katherine.
Throughout his career, Felton received numerous awards, including the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Seedstock Producer of the Year Award and Pioneer Award as well as Missouri Polled Hereford Breeder of the Year Award.
Felton was a pro-performance breeder known for precise and exhaustive record keeping. He was one of the first cattlemen in the nation to begin collecting weaning weights in 1962. Later, in the mid 1960s, Felton took some of the first scrotal circumference measurements on yearling bulls. Birth weight measurement began in 1965 followed by pelvic measurements in 1970. All of these measurements served as tools for Felton in judging the efficiency and productivity of his cattle.
Always conscious of the end product, he worked with commercial cattlemen to improve their herds and utilized carcass data to evaluate his cattle’s usefulness in feedlots. He was equally dedicated to helping other purebred producers as they sought to improve the Hereford breed.
The Felton Hereford herd was sold private treaty to Bent Tree Farms in 2001, with Felton serving as a herd consultant. Following his death on April 16, 2003, Bent Tree Farms decided to disperse the herd. Felton had long maintained a policy of not selling females from his herd. On Oct. 30, 2003, buyers from more than 30 states and Canada came seeking Felton genetics, especially Felton females, to add to their individual breeding programs. The genetics developed by Frank Felton had a great impact on the Hereford breed.