SPUR RANCH ...
A Focused Breeding Program
by A.J. Smith, Editor, Oklahoma Cowman
Nearly a dozen years ago, I wrote a producer profile article featuring Spur Ranch...and it mentioned the Jot Hartley family including wife, Renee, and sons Travis who was 11 and Jimmy who was 8 during 1990. This visit parallels my first visit to Spur Ranch during the mid 1960s as Jot, Clay and Bobby would have been about the same age. I've known Jot Hartley most of his life. The Spur Ranch breeding program of the 1960s was based upon performance testing and featured the Emulous bloodline. The breeding program was focused on the profitable traits and remains true today as a Volume Source for Angus Genetics for commercial and purebred producers.
The Jot Hartley Family
Here is the Spur Ranch story: Nearly five decades have passed since Bob Hartley introduced the first registered Angus to Spur Ranch. The purpose of Angus genetics was to serve as a base for improved beef production for the Spur Ranch product marketed through the commercial sector. The excitement for quality Angus grew and a registered Angus seedstock breeding program was developed with special emphasis on performance testing, selection and breeding decisions based upon performance facts.
Weaning weight, yearling weight, average daily gain and weight per day of age were the first performance measurements taken from post weaning through a 140-day official feedlot test. The Spur Ranch performance program helped pioneer the performance rules used by today's breed associations through their early involvement and Charter
Membership in Performance Registry International.
The early day Spur Ranch philosophy was to raise the most choice beef during the shortest period of time for the least possible cost. Not a bad idea, and this philosophy continues today through the expanded use of actual and adjusted performance figures, ancestral EPDs, carcass EPDs and ultrasound information which provides reliable carcass quality and muscling information. The desire to produce a superior product has always been the focal point of the Spur Ranch breeding program.
Much could be written and in chapter form about Spur Ranch, the Hartley family and their many accomplishments. To quickly summarize their time devoted to beef cattle production, I would like to share comments about the Master Breeders Award presented at the 1999 Oklahoma State University Animal Science Banquet.
1999 Master Breeder Award
The Spur brand originated in western Craig County Oklahoma during the late 1930s with the Hartley Brothers Hereford Ranch operated by Thomas Herschel "Jot" Hartley and Fred Hartley. Robert I. "Bob" Hartley, son of Thomas Herschel "Jot" Hartley, (and Bob's wife, Jane) converted the operation to the Angus breed in the late 1950s utilizing the family brand under the Spur Ranch banner. Under the guidance of Bob Hartley (1950s through 1980s), his son Clay Hartley (1980s) and his son Jot Hartley with his wife Renee (1990s), Spur Ranch has seen its operation grow to cover more than 15,000 acres in Craig and Nowata Counties in Northeastern Oklahoma's Green Country. Spur Ranch presently operates a 400 cow registered Angus herd, a 600 cow commercial Angus herd and a 2,000 head custom stocker operation.
Spur Ranch and the Bob Hartley family have long been recognized as innovative cattle breeders and a primary source of performance genetics within the Angus breed. Bob was an early proponent of performance testing as a means of herd improvement and was one of the founding members of Performance Registry International. Through their breeding efforts, Spur Ranch became one of the nation's leading performance breeders, producing numerous Certified Meat Sires. With the industry's increased emphasis on growth and performance in the 1960s and 1970s, Spur Ranch genetics also had success in the show ring, highlighted by the naming of Spur Emulous Master as the 1971 International Grand Champion Bull.
In 1972, Bob was a founding member of Oklahoma Beef Incorporated and a signatory on its articles of incorporation. Over the last 27 years, Spur Ranch has continued to emphasize performance in their production of registered Angus bulls for the commercial cattle industry. Spur Ranch produced the first Angus bull to gain more than six pounds per day at OBI and has produced three of five Angus bulls to gain more than six pounds at OBI. In five of the last seven years, Spur Ranch has produced the high-indexing Angus bull in at least one OBI test group, including their current popular herd sire, Spur Travel Master, who achieved an adjusted weaning weight of 785 pounds and an adjusted yearling weight of 1,524 with a birth weight of only 75 pounds. Spur Ranch annually holds one of the top Angus bull and Angus commercial female sales in the United States - the World Series Sale, where cattlemen from throughout the United States attend to purchase Angus herd sires and top-notch bred commercial Angus females produced by Spur Ranch performance genetics.
Spur Ranch has also had a history of innovation in the importation and exportation of cattle. From early importation of Charolais and Limousin cattle from France to the establishment of an on-farm export station for use in exporting hybrid Wagyu X Angus cross cattle produced at Spur Ranch for export to Tokyo, Japan for Ito-Ham Foods, the second leading food purveyor in Japan, Spur Ranch has been a leader in the beef industry.
The families of Bob, Clay and Jot Hartley continue to promote the use of Angus genetics in today's beef industry and strive to produce a predictable product based upon years of performance testing for today's value-based marketing programs. Jot was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Angus Association and also serves on the Board of Directors of Oklahoma Beef Incorporated. The Hartley family and Spur Ranch genetics have been instrumental in the development of the cattle industry in Oklahoma and the United States.
Reprinted from the 1990 OSU Animal Science Banquet Program
The Master Breeder Award was established in 1971 to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the genetic improvement of a breed of livestock.
The Spur Ranch Employees Larry Stookey, Teresa Ayres-Bruce and Dennis May