EAGLE POINT, Ore. — For nearly two decades a Southern Oregon family has raised high quality Angus cattle by breeding for the best genetics. They are at the beginning of the process which may end with a steak on your plate.
It doesn’t happen very often; in fact, it’s never happened to anyone from Oregon until 15-year-old Ashley Cox took the Grand Champion for Angus Female at the National Western Stock Show. That grand champion may be a little less muddy, a little more spoiled and all around showier than these hefers, but make no mistake, the Cox kids are learning valuable lessons from both.
“I’ve just done it all my life ever since I was little,” said Ashley Cox.
Between Jackson and Klamath Counties, three generations have 1,100 head of cattle, almost all female, spread over 8,000 acres.
“We do provide all natural beef, which means no hormones,” explained Brad Cox. “A lot of our cattle go through a qualify for certified Angus beef. So, that’s the steaks that’s the hamburger that’s everything in the restaurant.”
“Our mainstay is the bulls, raising these bulls to about 18 months or two years of age, and then selling them on into breeding programs,” said Buckley Cox.
The Cox family says to ensure high quality breeding bulls, they give the animals plenty of space and are careful not to over-graze.
“Taking care of the land like it’s your own even if it’s not, because if you don’t it’s not going to take care of you,” said Brad.
“It’s also the fencing,” explained Buckley, “the maintenance of the fencing, the maintenance of the ditches for irrigation.”
They believe by doing this, they allow the land to be sustainable for generations to come.
“There is a lot of stuff that goes into the land that makes it useful and keeps it up to quo,” said Buckley.
Traynham Ranch does vaccinate the animals twice a year, but limits the antibiotics to need only.
“If you keep your animals healthy, you don’t have to use antibiotics,” said Brad.
On top of living conditions and healthcare, the cattle are also very well fed.
“We don’t have to buy any outside hay so everything our cattle eat is grown right here on the property with exception of the grain which we buy locally,” said Brad.
This limits the need for trucking it in, cutting the carbon footprint. Besides the bread and butter of the bull breeding program, the Cox’s also sell live animals privately that can be processed locally and feed local families for months.
“We get good raves on the meat, it’s a quality piece of meat. They are very happy it’s tasty,” explained Buckley. “We also sell a lot of project steers to F-H and FFA members.”
Which brings us back to the grand champion heffer, which has won Ashley so many honors and taught her so many lessons.
“I do hope to have a heard of my own someday, when I am old enough and stable to do it,” Ashley said.
“It’s not forced or pushed, but it’s a way of life that they see as beneficial to themselves. It makes you proud,” Buckley said.
The majority of the young bulls will be sold to breeding programs that are in Eastern Oregon as well as Washington and California.