Author Archives: BlackInkNicole

Raised in the Strawberry Mountains of Eastern Oregon, I’m a fan of wide open spaces and rural life. I didn't grow up in the beef industry, but I got here as fast as I could. My love for great stories, a well marbled steak and black cattle led me to Ohio where I consider myself blessed to blend my many passions into a "job" at CAB.
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Smiles, Success

By the end of the day, my cheeks hurt from laughing.

Normally it’s my feet that hurt after a ranch visit, not my face. I didn’t know what to expect on my first visit to a Canadian ranch. I sure didn’t expect to smile so much and leave with a sunburn.

What I did find was that the Bolduc family loves big, laughs hard and their passion for Angus is difficult to beat.

Their story is one that’s been told so many times, it might soon become legend. But no matter how many times I hear it, I always learn something new.

You could say Cudlobe Angus began on a whim. You might even call it teenage spontaneity or a desire to go against the grain. Dyce, the son of Shorthorn breeders wasn’t even twenty years old when he bought his first Angus cows in the 1967. Back then, black cattle sold at a discount.

But Dyce and his brother David saw potential where others only saw lost profits. This mindset difference set in motion an adventure 50 years ago that today is carried on by their children.

Cudlobe genetics and their program make them unique – but it’s the people and their vision that make it something special.

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“We’re trying to service a whole industry that begins with us,” Dyce says. “We realize consumers have to have a quality product that they want to pay good money for, and that starts here.”

The journey from three Angus cows purchased at a sale barn to a more than 600 head seedstock operation that hosts two sales a year took decades of learning and investment risk. As soon as a new technology became available, the brothers implemented it, including expected progeny differences, ultrasound, DNA testing, carcass data and more. Now, they are heat checking from high frequency ear tag technology that connects to an iPad. If it allows them to gather more data, you bet they’re going to try it.

“I really enjoy the science part of our industry,” David says. “We have technology that if we make use of it, we can make a difference in our cattle. Seeing that science produce results, like actually seeing a client’s data where their cattle grade 16% Prime, that’s my favorite.”


Results matter to these cattlemen because they know it helps more than just their operation.

“We have to use the best technology available to us to generate a product that can be raised sustainably, efficiently, relative to the environmental inputs and be accepted by the consumer at a level that drives demand for our whole industry,” David says.

It’s that pull-through demand the pair always understood. It drove their emphasis on carcass quality.

Many might have called them crazy to care about carcass genetics since beef quality grading didn’t launch in Canada until the ’90s.

“When Cargill first opened in Alberta and they had several producer meetings with their cattle buyers,” David says grinning at the memory. “I’ll never forget sitting in that room and smiling when I heard one of them say, ‘We’ll be looking to source a lot more British cattle… and I’m not talking about Herefords.’”

They set their sights on raising bulls whose progeny would make it into the Certified Angus Beef program. Inspired by the vision set by its early founders, they considered the brand a mark of success.

“Who wouldn’t want to be aligned with an organization that has that much vision and that much ability to impact the industry?” David asks rhetorically.

But it’s never been just about their own accomplishment.


“It doesn’t matter the amount of success we have here at Cudlobe, if the folks we provide genetics to don’t capture some of that success,” Dyce says.

It shows in how they’ve worked to pay it forward. Beyond both brothers’ extensive lists of service to the beef industry on boards ranging from the Canadian Angus Association to the Beef Improvement Federation, they are always focused on how to make their customers more profitable.

Their first feeder calf sale marketed 2,500 Cudlobe sired calves that sold for a $50 premium to the rest of the market on that day.

They walk their commercial customers through retained ownership, too. One reported a $143 greater return per-head by marketing those cattle on a quality-based grid. They encourage commercial partners to collect the data and take the time to explain the cutout sheets. A 2018 group of 180 Cudlobe-sired feeder cattle graded 99% AAA or better, with 73% qualifying for CAB including 26% Prime.

On June 9, 2018 they were presented the inaugural Certified Angus Beef Canadian Commitment to Excellence Award at the Canadian Angus Convention.

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Matt, David’s son manages the day to day operations of their herd, allowing David to give more time back to the industry, serving on the Canadian Beef Grading Agency Boards, as a member of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council and more.


It’s their pay it forward attitude that’s earned them business success and recognition. It’s an understanding that making it better for the next person in line, isn’t just about making things better now, it’s about leaving a legacy.

“It’s a mindset to work as a family,” David says. “It’s quite simple, treat everyone like you want to be treated yourself.”

The journey to success isn’t worth much if you don’t enjoy,  it’s important to have the right partners by your side. It’s doing something they love with the people that matter most.

“We’re really happy. It’s been great to raise these cattle alongside our children and now to see them grow, go on and come back to the farm,” David says.



With a smile on his face, Dyce respond, “Cudlobe is going to exist long into the future.”

That, they both say, is their greatest success.

Until next time,


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Put it to the test

“Nicole, I think you have cancer,” the doctor told me.

That stopped me in my tracks, as it would anyone. Unbelievable. I’m young, a picture of health — there’s no way this was happening to me.

But there I was, 25 years old, sitting in a doctor’s office, hearing the data points that suggested otherwise.

We would have to dig deeper, run more tests.


There’s nothing like a crisis to shift perspective. Suddenly, everything that’s actually important snaps into vivid focus. Changes that didn’t seem necessary become crystal clear, urgent.

In agriculture it’s often the same. It takes a calving season wreck to realize a selection mistake, a “drought of the century” to remember how vital are your abundant water sources, a market crash to shed light on the type of cattle that pay the bills in both good times and bad. It takes a disaster to reprioritize the things we always knew were significant, but thought could wait until tomorrow.

Live and learn, right? Unless you don’t survive the lesson, not to be morbid.

In life and business, we can get caught up in the day-to-day whirlwind and miss time for analysis and planning for dramatically better outcomes with less risk. We always intend to, but there just never seems to be enough time.

These decisions are often hard, requiring time for research, investment in knowing and sometimes  adjusting the status quo. Change isn’t easy until it’s necessary. But it’s a whole lot better to evaluate and make some hard adjustments now, before adversity is staring you in the face.

The trick is knowing what you’re up against.


You’ve got to run the tests, analyze the results, then make the changes.

The process might uncover a disaster waiting to happen. It could also reveal an opportunity for improved profits, for a better life.

Recently I sat across a rancher’s dinner table looking through carcass data. As we flipped through the pages we talked about what certain things meant, whether this number or that was good or bad.

It was good; really good: 37% Prime good.

There are few things that give us honest feedback like data from well-proven science. It doesn’t think, doesn’t lie, only tells what is, what could be and what isn’t. It can expose weakness and point us in the right direction, if only we take time to test, reflect and then do the hard part—act.


Like the rancher, I got lucky and my final tests came back cancer-free. Tests that I originally thought were a total waste of time and money. Instead, I gained a different perspective, priorities and course of action going forward.

Is there a part of your business that’s overdue for a checkup? Maybe it’s time to put it to the test.

Until next time,


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On the ranch, On the road

Tall Tales and High Standards

I’ve always been a big fan of good stories – tales of great adventure and overcoming adversity. The type of stories with characters who throw out the rulebook and make one of their own.

Minnie Lou and daughter Mary Lou Bradley, along with Mary Lou’s husband James Henderson are those type of people. By creating their own standards of success for doing business, they changed the beef industry for the better.

When I turned down the dirt road that leads to Bradley 3 Ranch, I knew I was in for a good story. I didn’t realize I would hear jaw-dropping sagas including characters like Beyoncé or Bonnie and Clyde. All true, all almost unbelievable, all worthy of repeating, but the most moving stories were about those sitting right in front of me.

It might just look like a hole in the ground, but it's name is 'Black Hand Cave'. When up close a black handprint can be seen marking this old hideout of the famed criminal duo, Bonnie and Clyde. It's just one of the treasures hidden in the B3R pastures.

It might just look like a hole in the ground, but it’s name is “Black Hand Cave.” When up close a black hand print can be seen marking this old hideout of the famed criminal duo, Bonnie and Clyde. It’s just one of the treasures hidden in the B3R pastures.

When people doubted that the rough Texas panhandle in the middle of a drought was a good place to start an Angus seedstock operation in the 1950’s, Minnie Lou proved them wrong. By being a ‘grass person first,’ shipping any cow that doesn’t produce a calf and breeding Angus genetics that have to work for the cattleman she built a legacy.

When most producers stayed close to the ranch, Minnie Lou spent hours in grocery stores, standing at the meat case and asking consumers questions — seeking to understand what they were truly looking for when shopping for beef.  She then took those experiences to the board room where she became the first woman to Chair the American Angus Association board of directors.

“You can do what you want to do, if you want it bad enough,” Minnie Lou says. “You’re going to be challenged, you’re going to work hard and not everything is going to come together like you want it to. But I guarantee, if your heart is there and your head is there and you have integrity, are focused in one direction and if you are honest with yourself and everyone else — there is always a way.”

It’s a mindset she passed on to her daughter.

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Mary Lou and James Henderson have both worked on the ranch and meat side of the beef business. The new painting on the side of their barn is something special to each of them, as it’s a brand they strive for every day with their cattle, one they own and help lead and the logo that they’ve proudly helped make better through the years.

While others shrugged Natural beef off as a ‘consumer phase’ and said there was no way a small packer could survive, Mary Lou dug in her heels. At 25 years old she built her own packing plant and launched B3R Country Meats. She flew to New York to visit the meat packing district and elbowed her way into the market there. In 2004 it was her plant that became the first packer licensed to produce Certified Angus Beef ® Natural.

Value-added products were a risky line extension for Certified Angus Beef in the 1980s, but James knew they could work. He helped create the first Certified Angus Beef ® corned beef product before he joined B3R in the early ‘90s. Currently, he serves on the CAB board of directors and manages the Bradley cowherd.

A fierce determination to create what the market and consumers demand helped them create history — a history that’s deeply intertwined with our brand. From conception to consumption and everything in between, this family understands what it takes to make great beef.

“I’ve been around cattle my whole life and I always thought I understood it,” Minnie Lou says. “But until you see your own cattle hanging on a rail and see how they perform in a feedlot…it changes your perspective.”

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The Bradley Ranch Logo includes a nod to the family’s meat packing days. Although no longer in the packing business, they still focus on making sure their cattle perform on the rail, too. Family friend Faith (left) drew a special sign for the painting celebration.


I see in them what I’m sure is the same grit those who launched our brand in 1978 had and the vision that’s kept us going for 40 years. It just wouldn’t be right to have a 40th Anniversary celebratory campaign without including Bradley 3 Ranch. Their barn will go down in history as #10 on our tour.

The logo on the side of their barn is a mark of quality, but it’s also the beginning of a story. When someone points to the mural and asks “why?” each family member has their own tale to tell of what the symbol means to them and their role in making it mean something valuable to the consumer.

“The main thing I think has helped the Certified Angus Beef ® brand be successful all these years is setting their standards so high and living with them,” Minnie Lou says.

I would argue the same is true about her own success.

It’s said that the greatest legends are those rooted deeply in truth. They inspire us and create stories that span generations because the individuals and their feats are worth repeating. Over the generations, the details get fuzzy, but the core lessons remain. Not to disagree with the esteemed cattlewoman, but I think the real key to this brand’s success is Angus breeders who live stories like these. The kind that I’ll never tire of telling and that 40 years from now will be looked back on as catalysts for moving our industry forward in the quest for better beef.

Until next time,


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On the ranch

Time and Data Will Tell

My red Ford Focus looked out of place at the Richmond, Kentucky auction barn. Surrounded by pickups and trailers, my Ohio tags were a long way from home and looked it. But when I walked through the doors of the salebarn restaurant, I was greeted like family.

It was clear I wasn’t a regular, but Billy and Scott Turpin waved me over to their table. They insisted we order lunch before we talking cattle over a checkered tablecloth in the hometown haunt.

Scott (left) and his father Billy (right) have always enjoyed their commercial Angus herd. However, it wasn't until they both retired from careers as agriculture teachers and FFA advisors that they were able to transition the focus of their herd to producing high quality beef.

Scott (left) and his father Billy (right) have always enjoyed their commercial Angus herd. However, it wasn’t until they both retired from careers as agriculture teachers and FFA advisors that they were able to transition the focus of their herd to producing high-quality beef.

The father and son can only be described as good ‘ol Kentucky boys. Passionate about their farm and family, they are commercial cattlemen with deep tobacco farming roots. On the drive from Richmond to what they call their ‘main farm’ they pointed out where they had gone to school, told stories of their grandfathers and memories of what the farm had been before today.

The Angus cowherd, once secondary to the cash crop and their vocational ag teaching careers, have now become Billy and Scott’s sole focus.  Pulling into the drive, I saw a familiar sight for the state of Kentucky — a traditional big black tobacco barn. Today it serves as their headquarters. Inside hang pictures of their successful land judging teams, Billy judging at the North American as well as relics from the time when they regularly harvested tobacco. Though you can see what it once was, they’ve added updates to better serve its new purpose. Next to where the tobacco plants once hung to dry is a warming room that serves as a haven on days when a newborn calf needs to be sheltered from Mother Nature.

Like most in the cattle business, they sell by the pound, but have always focused on ways to provide added value. Their goal is to be a supplier of a premium product, with their sights set on the Certified Angus Beef® brand.

There is a place for commodity cattle,” Billy says. “But there’s a place for upper-end cattle too.”

Scott explains, “We’d rather be on the premium end than the commodity end.”

However, feeding cattle and getting carcass data has never been in the cards from a cash-flow perspective. The father and son have worked on choices that pay off at the ranch level, including an emphasis on selecting for Angus bulls with optimum Angus Dollar Value indexes including $B and $W, investing in developing quality forages and health programs.

But so far, they’ve only been able to hope that it’s working for the consumer, too.

“If you’re going to invest in good, high-quality genetics, you should be able to get some of that value,” says Scott. “I know there’s a lot of value in these cattle that we never see.”

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Scott and Billy have always wanted to feed out their own calves to see how they perform beyond their Kentucky pastures and decided it was time to see how their calf crop would grade.

Cattle buyers sent signals that always seemed positive, but this year they retained ownership on a few, wanting the data to tell them the truth. Partnering with other local Angus producers, they sent a partial load to Pratt Feeders in Kansas and soon hope to discover the results.

“We want to be able to capture the true value of the genetics we’ve invested in,” Billy says. “And to do that, we need to hang them on the rail and see what they’re worth.”

On the Turpin farm, time tells a story. It’s one where the family hasn’t been afraid to make changes to do what makes sense for profitability. Time will tell what decisions are working and which aren’t, but they know the numbers will indicate what needs to happen next.

Until Next Time,


P.S. For more of the Turpin family story, check out future editions of the Angus Journal and Angus Beef Bulletin

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Certified Angus Beef corporate office
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What happens in Wooster?

It’s a question we hear often, “So what DO y’all do up there in Wooster?”

Anyone on our team is proud to answer, but it’s not something that’s easily summed up in a few words. In fact, it’s something we all could write, talk, tweet about, photograph and capture on video for years. We have and continue to do so.

The kicker is, nothing beats seeing it for yourself.

We have lots of cattlemen groups visit over the course of a year, but not everyone gets the opportunity to walk through the doors of our Culinary Center, meet the staff who work passionately every day to build demand for high-quality beef (and in turn, registered Angus cattle) and taste the beef innovation.

I’ve always been a “show me, don’t tell me” type of person, so I think the next best thing to being here in person, is for us to show what it is we’re doing up here in the Buckeye State. To do just that, we teamed up with the American Angus Association communications folks to produce an episode of the RFD-TV show, The Angus Report, focused on what’s happening at Certified Angus Beef LLC headquarters.

Aired on March 12th, the show takes you behind the scenes of our brand.

We walk you through the doors of our offices and share our history.

Then tell the story of how we track pounds, sales, cattle and where the brand is used.

We share how our chefs are leading and collaborating with the culinary community.

And last, but not least, bring viewers into the meat lab where we teach about our 10 science-based specifications.

Watch the entire episode over on YouTube or The Angus Report website.

These special segments just scratched the surface of what all the team in Wooster is doing on behalf of Angus cattlemen. There’s a lot more we’d love to show and tell you about, which is why we hope we’ll see you in here during the National Angus Convention, when we’ll be a stop on the National Angus Tour and host an open house.

Visit and experience the brand for yourself — I promise, it’s better in person. And keep those questions coming — we love providing the answers.

Until next time,


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