November 29, 2023

4 Min Read

The success and longevity of a reliable pedigree requires two things – good cattle managed by good people. It’s always easier said than done, but John McCurry, recipient of the American Angus Association’s inaugural Young Breeder Award, might prefer the tougher more educational route.

"I can remember my dad; he was fed up." McCurry was in college at Kansas State University a few hours away from home. "We didn’t know where we were going, who was going to do the work," McCurry remembers. "We were fall calving, and he told me was going to turn Hereford bulls out on all those cows and just make the best baldies we could and go commercial."

With college graduation on the horizon, McCurry was torn between seeking employment outside the farm or returning home. When he heard his father’s new plan, he skipped a week of school plus Thanksgiving break to go home and get everything in order.

"I synchronized those cows and got them all artificially inseminated," McCurry says. "Then and there, I knew I was committed."

McCurry was recognized during the American Angus Association Awards Reception and Dinner in Orlando, Florida. This is the first time the Young Breeder Award was presented and is designed to highlight a young, registered Angus breeder for their leadership within the Angus breed, participation in Angus programs and innovation within their herd.

McCurry’s success as a young breeder was supported by a long Angus history in his family. Beginning their journey into farming and cattle in the early 1900s, the original McCurry Brothers paved their legacy with competitive wins in the showring across the country in the 1960s and 1970s.

"They had success anywhere they went across the Midwest. Multiple state fairs, and of course the bigger shows like Denver and [at that time] Arizona," John says. "Dad would be the oldest son and he left the operation in 1975 and was the only McCurry boy that did so. He made it about fifteen miles down the road before ultimately returning to Burrton after meeting his wife, my mom, Mary."

No stranger to the breed, Mary was the third generation on her family’s Tennessee farm to raise black-hided cattle. She was working toward her master’s degree in meat science from K-State when she met Andy, McCurry’s father.

Mary and Andy moved back to Burrton after marrying, bringing their two children, McCurry and his sister, Emily. Both were active in the National Junior Angus Association, and McCurry even went on to serve as a green coat on the National Junior Angus Association Board of Directors from 2001 to 2003.

During his time on the K-State Livestock Judging Team, McCurry met his wife, Melody, also a livestock judging competitor at Oklahoma State University. Today, they have three children, Aubree, Molly and Drew.

"All of them are very active in sports, and as we get going that will be difficult to balance, but their heart lies in the cattle industry," McCurry says.

The evolution of the McCurry operation is evident in their annual bull sale, marketing around 200 bulls and pioneering a commercial female sale. The latter, now in its ninth year, not only showcases the family’s commitment to their customers but also serves as a platform for community collaboration. The 1,500 head commercial female sale is a testament to their understanding of the industry’s dynamics and the importance of creating spaces for transactions within the Angus community.

"It’s a great place for our customers to trade and do business with each other," McCurry explains.

Amidst the success, he emphasizes the diversity within the Angus breed. The recognition that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to breeding underscores their inclusive mindset. McCurry advocates for unity, reminding Angus breeders that, despite differences, they are all on the same team with a shared goal of promoting and improving the breed.

"There are so many great people that breed great cattle regardless of their breeding focus," McCurry says. "You need to breed what you can market or sell or where that fan base is that follows you, and I’m a cheerleader for everybody and every avenue. It’s important for breeders to remember that we’re all on the same team. We can all sell different things to different people and have different breeding goals in mind.

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