Bent Tree Cattle Company has come a long way since its humble beginnings just over 20 years ago. Started with 20 Polled Herefords on a 60-acre cotton farm near Fort Payne, Alabama in 1980 by Teddy Gentry, the Bent Tree Cattle Company now owns over 1,500 mamma cows and owns or leases hundreds of acres in Alabama and Georgia. And judging by Bent Tree's current operation, the best is yet to come.
Beginning in 1985, the Bent Tree Cattle Company began incorporating practices that would eventually result in Bent Tree becoming one of the premier cattle breeding operations in the South and Southeast. The first decision was to keep only those cattle that were genetically adapted to thrive on grass. Then, in 1986, Bent Tree incorporated rotational grazing management practices that allowed them to keep more cows per acre.
Attention to detail and the meticulous keeping of data have allowed co-owners Teddy Gentry and Jim Frady to turn what was initially a hobby of Teddy's into a progressive breeding operation stressing fertility and longevity. With regular collection of ultrasound data, linear measurements and fertility data, they have one of the most complete data sets available on all the cattle in their operation. Experts are brought in for collection of data, including Rethal King of Designer Genes Technologies, LLC, Dr. Tommy Perkins of Southwest Missouri State University, Dr. Allen Williams of Mississippi State University, and Gerald Fry of Bovine Engineering and Consulting. The cattle that do not meet strict requirements are culled from the herd, keeping the integrity of herds intact, and ultimately strengthening the consistency of the South Poll breed.
“Progressive breeders such as Teddy Gentry and Bent Tree have done just a wonderful job. If the data can be measured, it can be evaluated,” says Dr. Tommy Perkins. “They've really done a great job of collecting that data and making sure the producer has that information available. Probably the most impressive thing about Teddy Gentry and Bent Tree to me is the fact that he takes that data, puts it into his data bank and really utilizes it in a fashion that is unique to most beef cattle breeders.”
In 1988, the Bent Tree Cattle Company (known then as Bent Tree Farms) began putting together the breeds of Bos Taurus maternal cattle needed for the South Poll composite. Polled Hereford, Barzona, Senepol, and Red Angus cattle were selected for traits desired in the South Poll. The first Red Angus were purchased from Roy Beeby, the Senepol were brought in from the Virgin Islands, and the Barzona were purchased from Frank Felton and Bob Crane to add to the existing Hereford base at Bent Tree Cattle Company.
Gentry first developed the F1 Barzona Hereford and F1 Red Angus Senepol in 1990, and the subsequent breeding of the F1 cattle resulted in the South Poll, which was registered in 1990. Continued breeding activity has built up the South Poll herd to what it is today, a herd containing consistent performing cattle that are well suited to hot and humid climates.
Jim Frady, Bent Tree's partner, came into the picture in 1997 when as a co-op breeder, he bought Neil Trask's Polled Herefords in 1997 for use in Bent Tree's program. With their moderate frame, easy keeping ability, and excellent fertility and longevity traits, these cattle brought the perfect ingredients into the South Poll mix.
Through their association with the co-op breeding program, Gentry and Frady's relationship, as well as their commitment to breeding the best cattle in the South, grew stronger, resulting in a formal alliance being developed in 1998.
With the business growing, and herd sizes increasing, Bent Tree was ready for the next step. In 1999, Gentry and Frady leased the Rollins Ranch, known as Mountain Cove Farm, in Chickamauga, Ga. Mountain Cove Farm is now home to the Bent Tree Cattle Company Southern Maternal Bull and Female Classic, held this year on October 10-12. A co-owned division of Bent Tree, known as Bent Tree Farms Mountain Cove Division, LLC, the site is utilized for ultrasound data collection, implanting embryos and collecting data on fertility and linear measurements.
One of the experts hired to collect data at Bent Tree, Dr. Allen Williams, is impressed with their operation. Williams, while on site at Mountain Cove, said, “I do believe that the principles established here in their selection criteria and the integrity that has been displayed by Teddy Gentry, Jim Frady, and the rest of the Bent Tree crew will go a long way in helping the beef industry be able to produce cattle that are economically feasible, reproductively efficient and that work in the feed yard and on the consumers' plate.”
In 2000, with their relationship already strong, Teddy Gentry and Jim Frady took the next step. Frady became a full partner in Bent Tree Farms and the company was reorganized under the name of Bent Tree Cattle Company.
Progress and expansion continues at Bent Tree today. In January of 2001, Bent Tree purchased the Hap Ramsey Barzona herd of just under 150 head. Having just completed the purchase of Frank Felton's Polled Hereford females, and entering into a joint venture on all of Felton's Polled Hereford herd bulls, Bent Tree now owns more than 1,500 mamma cows.
By stressing fertility and longevity, with special attention given to carcass quality, Bent Tree Cattle Company continues to meet their goal; to produce the most consistent seed stock for hot and humid climates. With a commitment to the producer and the consumer, and the expertise of Teddy Gentry and Jim Frady, the Bent Tree Cattle Company stands poised to be a leader in the cattle industry for years to come.
“I think he (Teddy) has the forethought to think ahead 10, 20, 30 years down the road,” says Dr. Perkins, “And he's trying to develop a product that meets our needs, not only the needs of the cattle producer, but also the (needs of) the consumer.”
For more information on the Bent Tree Cattle Company and the South Poll composite, contact Bent Tree Cattle Company at: 1270 County Road 256, Fort Payne, AL 35967. Ph: 256-845-3009; Fax: 256-845-0170. email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.benttreefarms.com