Herd History

The Lents Hereford story is actually Chapters 3 & 4 of a Hereford saga now 141 years in the making, and is presented here in that format. The links to the chapters are below.

Chapter 1
Gudgell & Simpson

In 1876 Charles Gudgell and T.A. Simpson (G&S) first saw Hereford cattle on exhibit at the US Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, and according to Gudgell, "gained a vision of what might be accomplished on America's western ranges with cattle such as these". Following the exposition, they imported a bull, and eight females from Frederick W. Stone at Guelph, Ontario to their farm at Pleasant Hill, Missouri. A second Stone importation in 1877 consisted of "another stock bull, a good bunch of cows and heifers, and some young bulls to test the western range market for Herefords". G&S imported Herefords from England in 1880, 1881 and 1882. Anxiety 4th, the bull whose blood built the gene pool bearing his name, came in 1881. Included in their five importations were a total of about 225 females and a now unknown number of bulls sold to others.

 

As students of history G&S knew that all lasting improvement in all species of domestic livestock had come about through line-breeding, which mimics the process used in nature to develop and maintain prepotency for their characteristics in the various wild species. Prepotency, which is created and developed by following principles of natural law, is a powerful genetic force that not only makes possible, but actually ensures  that species identity is maintained in the natural realm. By line-breeding while using a consistent selection menu constantly applied over time, domestic animal breeders can mimic nature's uniformity and consistency in their stock. It's not possible to match this genetic strength using other breeding methodologies. In fact outcrossing is the first step to breaking down prepotency via genetic scattering, and cross breeding utterly destroys prepotency, leaving a breeder adrift and unable to effectively manage outcome of a population of stock. 

 

From the outset the G&S plan was to line breed to accumulate, develop and uniformly perpetuate in a single population, the characteristics, structure  and efficiency necessary in a properly functioning high-quality beef animal. Their success is a matter of historical record. The beef animal form and structure they developed is unmatched in American history. They were not showmen, but were known for the high-quality, efficient, rugged and enduring beef animal form resulting from the use of their bull genetics on all shapes, sizes, types and kinds of cows on the American landscape. Anxiety Hereford bulls as designed and built by G&S pushed bulls of other breeds out of America's pastures and off Her western ranges, and drove competing families of American Herefords to extinction. Of all the historical lines of American Herefords, many of them established on great bulls and backed by men of large means and wide influence, only the Anxiety 4th line established by G&S survived as a family. This is the reason Anxiety 4th 9904 is called "The Father of American Herefords".  

 

From about 1890 until the American beef industry yielded to commoditization in about 1970, up to 85% of American beef cattle at every production level were breed identified as Herefords. It's a feat unmatched anywhere in the world where beef cattle are grown. This is the legacy of G&S, and it rests firmly on the line bred Anxiety 4th gene pool of Herefords they developed. For decades American consumers enjoyed the highest quality beef in modern human history, and beef owned the center of America's dinner plates. Had G&S not correctly identified the proper form and function of a beef animal, and had they not ignored their critics and detractors, but instead chose to think and act independently, thereby turning their vision into a reality, this could not have occurred.

 

But it did occur, and not by chance, fortunate circumstance or a "big break" as claimed on the American Hereford Association website. Renowned American Hereford historian John M. Hazelton, who personally knew Charles Gudgell, recorded that "what Gudgell & Simpson accomplished was "the result of carefully thought out plans persistently carried into execution". The beef animal form and structure they envisioned and brought into being remains unequaled wherever beef cattle are grown.  

 

By 1916, the first chapter of this Hereford saga was complete. Simpson died in 1904, and Gudgell was in poor health. The herd was dispersed at auction June 28 & 29, 1916 and Gudgell died in September. The men were gone, but their lifework continued for the betterment of future generations of Americans. In 1939 John M. Hazelton wrote, "The story of Gudgell & Simpson, and their work as Hereford breeders presents the outstanding chapter in the annals of American domestic livestock production". One finds no parallel in that history.

Charles Gudgell

Thomas Alexander Simpson