March 11, 2020
Mark Cooper was raised on his family’s cattle ranch in southwestern Montana and spent his formative years digging in the soil, stretching wire and learning the true art of growing crops and breeding cattle from his father and uncles. Mark was very fortunate to “learn by doing” and has worked alongside some truly amazing gentlemen, including his father, Jack Cooper, and uncles, Les Holden, Dr. Ray Woodward and Dr. Scott Cooper. Each of these men was instrumental in shaping Mark’s life. Their guidance and wisdom undoubtedly contributed to Mark’s success as a rancher and farmer.
Mark’s love of ranching influenced him to attend Montana State University where he focused his studies on animal science and agronomy. He returned home to the ranch in 1977 and settled into the day-to-day operation alongside his father and mentor, Jack Cooper. For more than 30 years, the two worked side by side to expand their farming operation, settled in 1914, and to grow their registered Hereford operation, which Jack and his wife, Phyllis, started in 1946.
The Cooper Hereford Ranch has been a pioneer in the beef industry since its inception. As charter members of both the Montana Beef Performance Association and the AHA’s Whole Herd Total Performance Records, both Jack and Mark recognized the importance of integrating new tools and tests set forth by the breed associations and cattle industry at large. With more than 70 years in the seedstock business, the operation remains a go-to source for premium Hereford genetics.
In March of 2020, Mark and his wife, Cristy, will host the operation’s 54th annual production sale. “The Cooper Hereford Ranch production sale has been and continues to be a benchmark sale for the breed,” says Mark St. Pierre and Gino Pedretti of Pedretti Ranches. “The Coopers have produced bulls and females that have impacted the Hereford breed since the ’70s.”
Over the years, Mark has contributed greatly to the Hereford breed on a state, national and international level. He does his best to break down walls between breeds and to encourage collaboration for the betterment of the beef industry as a whole, which has earned him great respect from the agricultural community of Montana and has led to his participation on numerous boards. Many young and seasoned producers alike turn to Mark for guidance as he is always giving of his time and humble in his mentorship.
“His high level of commitment to all pursuits, his passion for the agriculture industry as a whole and his personal qualities make him a model breeder,” says Kenneth Coleman with Coleman Herefords. “It is my pleasure to have him as not only a friend, but he has become someone I admire for his immense leadership in our Association.”