John McKnight has extensive experience in a few different sectors of the beef cattle industry. He first began his ranching career more than 60 years ago in the commercial and registered Hereford business and kept thorough performance records on his herd. His knowledge of and experience reporting performance data would eventually prove beneficial in advancing the Brangus breed.
McKnight had his first hands-on experience with Brangus cattle when Spring Creek Ranch, a registered Brangus operation, moved their herd to Searcy, Ark., on some land neighboring McKnight’s. He said he was impressed with the breed’s adaptability and performance, and he started paying closer attention.
“I had always run commercial cattle with some Brahman influence and was familiar with Bos indicus cattle,” McKnight said. “I don’t think any breed does as well in the south and southeast as the Brangus breed.”
McKnight credits Joe Reznicek for getting him involved in the Brangus breed because of their similar opinions and perspectives on breeding cattle. McKnight bought his first registered Brangus bull from Reznicek after Reznicek began working at Cow Creek Ranch.
“We had similar views on cattle,” McKnight said, “and Joe was focused on producing cattle that could work good on forage, and before long, Brangus bulls were all I was using on my commercial cattle.”
McKnight said Bos indicus cattle have many advantageous qualities to provide to the beef cattle industry. He particularly emphasizes the Brangus female’s mothering ability and said when cattlemen begin to rebuild their herds, the Brangus cow will be desirable and in high demand.
“The Brangus commercial female will out perform any other breed with the beneficial mothering ability, longevity and parasite-resistance,” McKnight said. “The Brangus female fits our country and will out perform any other.”
After McKnight joined the IBBA membership in 1983, he served on a few committees and was instrumental in compiling and producing the first Sire Summary in which his experience with performance records proved beneficial. He was elected to the Board of Directors and served a term as the IBBA President in 1993-1994 while Neal Orth was IBBA’s Executive Vice President.
McKnight is well known for his support of the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association (IJBBA). He has dedicated his time and efforts to ensuring the youth’s success.
“It has always been a really good program and been a strongpoint for the Brangus breed,” McKnight said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have good leaders in the Junior association, and it has always been one of the best Junior programs of any breed association.”
McKnight said involvement in a youth program like the Junior association, allows students to develop a multitude of beneficial and necessary life skills. Participation in such organizations builds leadership, character and many other traits they will use throughout their careers, even if they choose to seek ventures outside the beef cattle industry.
Over the last 15 years, McKnight has focused primarily on raising Brangus commercial replacement heifers to supply to commercial cattlemen. He was recognized by the IBBA in 1996 as Breeder of the Year for his success in the seedstock industry, and in 2009, he was awarded the Commercial Producer of the Year award for his accomplished breeding program.