Heading northeast out of Marshfield, commuters may notice signs advertising different cattle for sale and a name, Bruce Bradley, the proud owner of Bradley Cattle. With over 46 years in the business, Bradley's experience and unique work with Charolais cattle made for a must-stop for the American-International Junior Charolais Foundation's (AIJCF) three-day trip across Missouri. This farm was one of very few farms that had the honor of being visited, showcasing different Charolais breeders.
The AIJCF and their world partners plan and select recipients to embark on the trek. The recipients of the trip come from various countries, including Ireland, Canada, and Mexico. Please make no mistake; it was intense for anyone who wanted to join the journey. AICA Foundation Administrator Kaitlyn Chism explains, "Each country that participated was allowed to choose two people on tour. Many of these kids had to apply to get here or compete. Those competitions could have been essay or judging contests. The winners are then sponsored and pay for these kids to come."
AIJCF was founded in 1973 when leaders of the AICF and other breeders wanted to start providing leadership and scholarship opportunities for the next generation of Charolais breeders. As the years went on, they expanded their operations and now offer scholarships nationwide. One other note of clarification, these juniors that participated in the trip were as old as 24. Chism explained, "There was a registered nurse in our group, some veterinarians, and an elementary school teacher too. Here in the US, our youth program goes up to 21. In other countries, their youth programs go up to 26."
The journey is aimed to be a learning experience, as the honorees learned how different Charolais farmers in Missouri handle their cattle. In addition, the trip educated the juniors on how things are similar and different in other countries. On Aug 3, the group visited Bradley's barn. The final stop on Day two of their three-day trip.
The group was greeted by Bradley, his wife Jana, and their veterinarian Emily Johnson. The juniors were treated to a gourmet meal courtesy of Domino's pizza and the finest refreshments.
As the group dined, they learned about Bradley's history, business, and how he treats all his cattle, "The last thing I want to do is send a bull out, and it cause problems," Bradley informed.
Those problems include Trich disease, eye problems, or warts. Johnson then educated on all the procedures she does to the bulls and cattle to ensure their health, not just for Bradley's sake but also for potential buyers and future generations of Charolais cattle. Next, Johnson performs what is known as a Breeding Soundness Program, an extensive but necessary process. "What I'm looking for when I do that is check the whole animal," Johnson says. She continues explaining what she looks at when dealing with the cattle. "We want to watch how it moves. Does it have one eye? Does the bull look like what you want in your pack? I try to guide my clients during the bull selection process and determine their end product. 'Are you looking for heifer retention or sell pounds of calf to the feed yard?' because that is going to direct you to different goals".
After a lengthy discussion that covered many topics, including herd health, business, and each country's struggles and successes, the group went to the field to check out Bradly's current bulls. Bradley continued to educate and learn from the group until they took their leave for one more day of traveling through Missouri, then finally home.
The trip was a treat for the AIJCF, but Bradley, too, "It was a neat opportunity to share with people from different geographical places. It was unbelievable. We got to share what we do with really intelligent young people and find out how they do things where they come from."
Though they may all come from different countries, their passion for Charolais Cattle is the same.
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