The Historic Angus Herd Award is presented to Angus breeders or immediate families who have been in continuous production of registered Angus cattle for 50 years or more. The American Angus Association is honored this year to recognize William and Nancy Byars of Fortuna, Mo., with a Historic Angus Herd Award.
William Byars always dreamed of raising Angus cattle. He spent three years training in the military for electronic service, and continued to look forward to one day purchasing cattle of his own. In April 1956, when he was 21-years-old, his dream became a reality. With his initial $400 investment in three head of Angus cattle, a legacy began that still continues today.
In 1962, the newlywed couple moved to the Kansas City, Mo., area where William took a job for IBM. During that time, the cattle stayed behind in Mexico, Mo. But in 1968, the Byars purchased their acreage in Fortuna and moved back to the farm five years later.
Throughout the years, the cattle industry changed significantly. To meet the needs of modern production practices, the Byars knew they needed to turn their herd in a new direction. In 2008, they purchased a bull from Keeney Angus of Nancy, Ky., which helped bring about increased herd production, fertility, efficiency and consistency.
To William Byars, there is nothing better than living on a farm with family close by. In 2005, their son, Chris, and daughter-in-law, Pam, bought the farm and continue to expand their operation, while living next door to William and Nancy.
"My wife and I are proud to have a herd to pass along to our children," says William, who mentioned that the family's 70-head herd still has cattle that link back to the first three ancestors he purchased 56 years ago.
Although, the herd is not the only part of the operation that is expanding. Six grandchildren now enjoy spending time on the Byarsfamily farm. One granddaughter, Jessica Marie, has a special story about her connection with the cattle. Jessica was born with cystic fibrosis, and William believes her life has been blessed by living on the farm. She is 14-years-old and caught her first calf last month.
"She enjoys every minute of the farm, and because of the farm environment her condition improves every single day," William says.
Producing Angus cattle is certainly a family affair for the Byars, and the same holds true for many others across the country. The story of this Historic Angus Herd, and those like it, is what will continue to keep the breed strong.
Visit www.angus.org for more information on the Historic Angus Herd Award or to view a list of awarded members since the program began in 1988.