Cattle Today

Cattle Today



The Livestock Marketeers — an informal fraternity of livestock fieldmen, auctioneers, sale managers and related livestock business leaders — held their 42th annual banquet in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO, on Jan. 13, 2007.

This year's honorees for the Livestock Marketeers "Hall of Fame" are auctioneer Jim Birdwell, Fletcher, OK, and livestock marketer and former American Hereford Association field representative Willard Wolf, Valleyford, WA.

Jim Birdwell
Auctioneer Jim Birdwell grew up in Southwestern Oklahoma, on a small livestock operation near Fletcher. After graduating from Fletcher High School in 1963, Birdwell entered Oklahoma State University majoring in agriculture education. He was a member of OSU's junior and senior livestock judging teams, earning awards as High Individual in beef cattle judging at the American Royal and High Individual in sheep judging at Fort Worth.

Following graduation in 1967 with a B.S. in agriculture education, Birdwell taught vo ag in Union City, OK, from 1967 through 1971.

The American Polled Hereford Association hired him as an area coordinator on Jan. 1, 1972, and put him to work traveling throughout Oklahoma and Kansas. Birdwell left APHA in 1975 to enter the sales management business with National Cattle Services. In July 1978, Birdwell made the next step forward in his livestock marketing career and became a full-time auctioneer.

Birdwell has sold livestock sales across the U.S. and in Canada, including all purebred livestock breeds, Quarter Horses and, mostly recently, Standardbred horse sales in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

He's been married to his wife, Jeanne, since 1969. She's a retired elementary school teacher and they have two children and four grandchildren. The Birdwells have a small ranching operation in Fletcher, raising registered Polled Herefords, Angus and Quarter Horses.

"I'm looking forward to many more years in the greatest business I could ask for — the purebred livestock auction business," Birdwell said.

Willard Wolf
Willard Wolf is a born and bred Hereford man, raised on a 300-head commercial Hereford cow-calf operation in Oklahoma that also included a wheat pasture program running 1,000 to 1,500 steers.

Wolf was a high school honor student at Elgin, OK, where he was named outstanding agricultural student and earned the Master Farmer's Degree. Along the way, he showed several champion steers and lambs at major shows in Oklahoma and Texas.

He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. degree in animal science and a minor in business law. While at college, he was a member of the Dean's Honor Roll and active in Block and Bridle Club, judging team, rodeo team and the Alpha Zeta honorary Scholastic fraternity. Wolf also found time to work for the Oklahoma Commission Co., buying and selling feeder and fat cattle on the Oklahoma City

Wolf graduated in 1963 and was hired by USDA as a livestock market news reporter working in Oklahoma City, San Francisco and Spokane, WA. He was transferred to Washington, DC, in 1965 to do the National Cattle Slaughter estimate and coordinate the national market news information for the cattle industry. In 1966, Wolf accepted a
position with the Foreign Agricultural Service and a private company exporting cattle, sheep, hogs and horses to foreign countries. During his tenure there, he exported over 5,000 head of Hereford cattle to Spain, Mexico, Portugal and Honduras.

In 1968, Wolf was hired as a field representative for the American Hereford Association and moved to the Northwest territory. For more than 30 years, Wolf assisted Hereford breeders with their buying and selling needs, as well as conducting research projects and breed promotion. He developed several special events, including the first International Satellite Sale, selling cattle throughout the U.S. and
to Mexico, Australia and Canada. The "Ladies of the Lobby" Sale sold Hereford cattle in major hotel lobbies in Spokane, WA; the "Ladies of the Board Walk" Sale was held from a barge and a floating stage on Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene. Wolf added special promotion to these events by flying heifers to the sale site by helicopter and through delivery via limousine.

Wolf bought over $12 million in Hereford bulls and females for ranchers who could not attend sales for 33 years with the American Hereford Association. He also served several hundred commercial cattlemen in their seedstock needs, as well as in marketing their replacement heifers and steers. Along the way, he mentored many young people and spent considerable time with junior Hereford members.

The biggest and best event in the West — The Western Nugget Show and Sale held in Reno, NV — was a highlight. Wolf directed and chaired "The Nugget" and developed many of the changes that made this the second largest Hereford event in the U.S.

Wolf was very involved in the development of the Certified Hereford Beef program and shipped several thousand head of feeder cattle to feedlots in the Midwest, as well as setting up the Yokes stores in Spokane for use of CHB.

After 33 years with the American Hereford Association, Willard Wolf  retired but did not leave the Hereford cattle and people. He still purchases bulls and females for commercial cattlemen and ships thousands of feeder cattle to feedlots for the CHB program, to the tune of over $10 million in the past four years.

"What's made him so good is that he really knows every aspect of this business," said Lovell Kuykendall, retired from the American Hereford Association. "His biggest attribute was his work and camaraderie with the commercial cattleman."

"He has a knack for asking the right questions," agreed auctioneer C.D. "Butch" Booker. "He'd make a bond with people and give them his word, and they trusted him."

A tribute to Stanley Stout
In addition to the traditional roast of Hall of Fame honorees, the Livestock Marketeers added a special memorial tribute to auctioneer Stanley Stout to this year's banquet. Stout, a long-time leader of the Livestock Marketeers, died in April 2006. In his honor, fellow Marketeer Gary McDonald, Franktown, CO, compiled an extensive list of  Stout's work at the National Western Stock Show and sales over more than 30 years. A plaque featuring a picture of Stanley Stout and listing those accomplishments (approximately $38,000,000 in sales) was presented to Pat Grant of the NWSS, to be hung in a place of honor in the National Western Club.


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