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Marty Wooldridge Sucess with Cow Creek Ranch Bulls

Cow Creek Ranch, LLC, is recognized as the 21st largest seedstock cattle operation in the country.

Rooted in the Land

Marty Wooldridge
Marty Wooldridge, left, and Joe Reznicek of Cow Creek Ranch. Marty was honored by Cow Creek Ranch as its Mark of Excellence Commercial Cattle Producer.

He's well spoken. He's intelligent. He's educated. He's driven. He could execute with the best in a highly competitive corporate company. Yet, 29 year-old Marty Wooldridge chose a well-worn path shaped by three generations of ancestors: The cattle business.

Many considered Marty a prime candidate for law school. Others thought he might enter the oil business. But Marty's heart was somewhere else. By the time Marty entered college at Texas A&M University, Texarkana, where he later earned a degree, he'd decided he wanted to make a go in agriculture.

"I can't imagine anything better than the cattle business. It's romantic. It's the love of the land. It's the love of the cattle. It's a lifestyle. You don't get rich but you have your freedom and the independence of being your own boss. I'm the one that has to make it work," says Marty.

For most there is never an "ahaah" moment when you intuitively know you want to spend the rest of your life in production agriculture. It's more like a courtship. It takes time. Marty's courtship began at just five years of age when his grandfather gave him his first red Brahman cow. Puppy love. In 1984 Marty's family bought a herd of registered Brangus females. His first kiss. Yet Marty still had lingering thoughts of going to law school. But in the end, it was the wide open, green pastures that finally won his heart.

Surprised that production agriculture wooed a capable, talented young man away from the corporate world? You should be. There is a tendency from those of us in production agriculture to point out its evils. Long hours. Not enough rain. Not enough money. Too much rain. Too capital intensive. Not enough rain. Even Al Gore, then our country's vice president, advised future farmers at the National FFA Convention to be prepared to find other careers as production agriculture was moving outside the United States. So why should we expect young people to leap mountains to enter production agriculture? We've scared them to death. Keeping young cattlemen like Marty Wooldridge engaged in agriculture is critical and is becoming one of our industry's biggest challenges.

Marty's ambitious mind was set in motion in 1998 while still in college. His family cowherd consisted of heavily influenced Brahman based females (which were being bred to Angus bulls) along with a small registered Brangus herd. In an effort to upgrade his registered Brangus herd, Marty traveled to Cow Creek Ranch in Alabama to purchase registered females.

ÒPrior to my visit to Cow Creek Ranch, I had read about Cow Creek's Ultrablack bulls but didn't know that much about them. After visiting with Joe (Reznicek) and hearing him talk, I made a split second decision to buy an Ultrablack bull that literally 'changed our program'."

With his Ultrablack bull in tow, Marty arrived back at his family's northwest Louisiana ranch and immediately began sorting his cowherd and developing a plan. A decision that would eventually became the catalyst for his entire philosophy. Marty bred cows with the most Brahman influence to his new Ultrablack bull. The remainder of the cows were bred to Angus bulls.

The Ultrablack sired calves outperformed their Angus sired contemporaries by 100 pounds. "We gave up 100 pounds on our Angus sired calves," Marty vividly recalls. He also observed that in June and July his Angus bulls just couldn't work. They just couldn't handle the heat. With a clear eyed realization of what Cow Creek genetics could do for his program, Marty returned to Cow Creek Ranch the following year and purchased five more Ultrablack bulls.

Marty never looked back. Currently he runs 350 mama cows but will grow that number to 500 cows with 1,600 acres of newly acquired river bottom lease land. He eventually expects to reach capacity at 750 to 800 mama cows. Marty exclusively uses Cow Creek Ranch Brangus and Ultrablack bulls. In his words, "I'm committed to the Cow Creek Ranch program." His fundamental breeding philosophy still centers on breeding cows with more ear or color to Ultrablack bulls. "We breed our moderate eared cows with little navel to Brangus bulls. That gets us pretty close to 5/8 Angus, 3/8 Brahman calves. The quality of cattle speaks for themselves. We retain 10 to 15 percent of our heifers as replacement females and the remainder bring a hefty premium price," says Marty.

Marty attributes that hefty premium to the exposure and networking with Cow Creek Ranch and its customers. "Using Cow Creek Ranch bulls has opened many doors for us. Cow Creek Ranch offers superior genetics and at the same time has created an extended family for us. They open their home to us. It's the whole experience," says Marty. Marty even credits Joe for his guidance with breeding seasons and herd vaccination program. "I distinctly remember having breakfast with Joe in 1999 and telling him our family's breeding program was a year around breeding season. I told him I would buck my family if I changed it to a defined season. Joe immediately told me I needed to change and having a two 60-day breeding seasons, fall and spring, would solve my problems. I took his advice and it's the best thing I've ever done," Marty says.

"We've found Cow Creek Ranch genetics far surpass other genetics we've used. Joe's bulls do what he says they'll do. Our Cow Creek sired calves have more thickness and more vigor. The calves are up and running in no time. With our Ultrablack breeding program we've bred out our off colored cattle without sacrificing Brahman influence or pounds. Ultrablacks and Brangus just fit our climate and operation. They are a great balance. We breed the best genetics we can," says Marty. His breeding program has progressed to the point of breeding genetics and not just breeds. For example, all the first calf heifers get bred to Sleep Easy sons and grandsons.

Marty markets his calves right out of the pasture. He's developed such a positive reputation for the producing quality calves that many of his potential buyers never even see the calves before they bid on them. In addition to calf quality, buyers know his calves will be vaccinated to protocol and the steers will be castrated. "On the ranch marketing allows me to know what I'm getting for my calves before they leave the ranch and it's a straight price with no commission," says Marty.

Tackling a career in the cattle business was guided by Marty's heart. Now, he's taken it upon himself to educate and attract other young people to production agriculture. The number of individuals with no understanding of or appreciation for agriculture will continue to grow, as each successive generation is farther and farther removed from the land. Marty understands this and it is why he's become exceptionally active in Young Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that was virtually nonexistent in his area as a youth. He's activated the organization in his parish with the purpose of creating a high retention rate of youth in agriculture. He's one of 12 district committee members for the organization. Marty is the voice for eight parishes. "I want to help develop young leaders in our community and state. I want them to have more skills and more experience in agriculture than I had, " Marty says.

Spending time with 4-H and FFA youth has become a priority for Marty. He works with youth at parish and district cattle shows. He's also an advocate of putting good Brangus heifers in the hands area youth. Marty bred the champion Brangus heifer at a recent show in Monroe, Louisiana. "I've retained a few, select Brangus females, mostly Pathfinder sired, to have some calves for local 4-Her's as well as for my nieces and nephews. Kids come to the ranch and pick a heifer. For me it's the connection with kids. Showing is family oriented. I love the thought that my replacement heifers are good enough compete in the show ring," says Marty.

Marty has become an extraordinary leader himself. Marty was one of 25 who were nominated, interviewed and ultimately chosen to complete a two year Agricultural Leadership Development Program for Louisiana. The group traveled to Washington D.C., visited the Chicago Board of Trade and just returned from a 12 day trip to China. They explored all aspects of agriculture from politics to government to the environment. In addition, Marty's honed his discussion skills by winning the state Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. He competed with winners from 40 states at the national competition in Nashville. "Being involved is great exposure. It allows me to network, get new ideas and meet new people," says Marty.

Not many 28 year olds appreciate the significance of living off the land, the value of hard work, family life, neighbor helping neighbor, and personal responsibility. Marty's approach to preserving these traditions while creating profitable opportunities will not only help assure his success, but success of future generations as well.


The Joseph J. Reznicek Family
1170 Cow Creek Road, Aliceville, Alabama 35442
205/373-2269 office • 205/367-7859 Joe-mobile • 205/373-6686 fax

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