Past IJBBA President Spotlight: Stacy Hayes

The Past President Spotlight is a column featured in the bi-monthly publication, the Brangus Journal. We hope you learn from these great leaders who have extensive experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Stacy Sproul Hayes
IJBBA President 2000-2001

Like many juniors who grow up in the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association (IJBBA), Stacy Sproul Hayes has extensive experience in the Brangus breed having been involved in her family’s registered Brangus operation in Isabella, Okla. Hayes was initially involved in the Oklahoma Junior Brangus Association, which led to her involvement at the national level, and she served as the IJBBA President on the Board of Directors in 2000-2001.

Sproul Brangus was a partnership between Hayes’ dad, Ron, and his brother, Wally. She traveled, hauled, showed with and competed against her brothers, Scott and Clint, and her cousins, Andy and Emily. The operation truly was a family affair, and they shared in each other’s accomplishments and big wins.

“Between five kids and one herd, I was just as excited when my cousins or brothers won as when I won,” Hayes said. “I was very fortunate that we didn’t have to go out and buy a lot of show cattle. We bred and raised them on our own operation, and that was a true blessing, I feel, for a ranch to support five kids showing very competitively where so many lessons were learned.”

In 1996, Hayes won Supreme Champion at the National Junior Brangus Show (NJBS) in Kansas City after winning her division and the Grand Champion Owned Female. The female was one that she and her family bred and raised. She also won Reserve Champion Senior Calf in the Owned Show in Lake Charles in 2000. But, the family was involved in more than just the show ring.

“I was as involved as one possibly could be,” Hayes recalled. “I was on the board for a long time, and I really enjoyed every minute of it. My first National Junior Brangus Show was in 1990 in Wichita, Kan., and I didn’t miss a national show until after my last one in 2002.”

Hayes was crowned the IBBA Queen in 1998-1999 and served on the Board of Directors in numerous capacities from 1997 to 2002. She participated in almost every contest she could including the poster contest, quiz bowl and salesmanship in which she was most competitive. Hayes said she gained so many opportunities and learned many life lessons while serving on the junior board.

“I feel like it helped me be a more outgoing person, and now I can walk into a situation and meet people,” Hayes said. “I moved from Oklahoma to Louisiana, and being involved in the IJBBA has helped me feel more comfortable being exposed to new and different situations. I even learned about the small things; the board taught me how to host meetings, travel as a group, navigate yourself around new places and how to be independent.”

Hayes obtained a degree in Elementary Education from Oklahoma State University in 2005. She now lives in Kinder, La., with her husband, Cody, and two young boys, Guy (six) and Gage (three), where she teaches fifth grade reading. The Hayes family lives on Cody’s family’s rice farm and is involved in showing pigs at the national level. Guy also has a steer he will show at Southern University in the spring after he turns seven.

“My goal was to be a positive role model for the kids I was setting an example for,” Hayes said. “Get involved and meet people both inside and outside your state because those people will remain contacts, and you just don’t know who you might need one day. Step out of your comfort zones and try new things because you never know what great experiences you might have.”

For more information about IBBA’s past presidents, visit

Past President Spotlight- Ludwig Brand

The Past President Spotlight is a column we feature in our bi-monthly publication, the Brangus Journal. We hope you learn from these great leaders who have extensive experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Ludwig Brand
IBBA President 1980-1981

An article in the August 1983 issue of the Brangus Journal uses three words to describe Ludwig Brand- dedication, determination and enthusiasm.

This past IBBA president was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1933. His family moved to Poland where they were in the business of selling and exporting hides having offices in Houston and in Europe. Brand’s father was in the United States on business when World War II erupted. After weathering the war in Poland, Brand and his mother were able to join his father and move to the U.S. in 1949.

When Brand enrolled in the University of Houston at age 16, he took a full load of college courses during the day and studied and learned to speak English at night. Just after five years of living in the U.S., Brand received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry in 1954. Brand then served two years of active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard before returning to Houston to join the family’s cattle hide business, Southwestern Trading Company. In 1965, he bought the present ranch in Round Top, Texas, where Brand and his wife, Judy, continue to raise Brangus cattle.

Brand began using Brangus genetics after he purchased four Brangus bulls from Diamond M Ranch to breed his Hereford cows and has since been a devoted leader and avid supporter of the breed and the IBBA. Brand started his registered herd with a group of 25 heifers bred by Bud Adams Ranches and gradually grew his herd count and obtained more land. Brand and Judy hosted annual sales for approximately 12 years. They use proven genetics derived from their own breeding program and introduced new bloodlines from time to time. While concentrating on increasing weights at weaning and yearling, Brand said his goal is to produce a very consistent calf crop year after year.

Perhaps Brand’s biggest contribution to the breed was his integral role in organizing and leading the three fundraisers essential for establishing the IBBA headquarters building and preventing the association from incurring any debt. The Building Fund Drive and the Art Fund Drive alone generated $900,000 from Brangus breeders. Many breeders and IBBA members remember The Crowning Event in which Brand and Judy were instrumental in organizing that completely paid off the new building located on 5750 Epsilon in San Antonio, Texas. Ground breaking for the new building started April 11, 1985.

“People were willing to give something of themselves and wanted to further the breed,” said Brand in an article recorded in the August 1999 issue of the Brangus Journal. “IBBA members truly built this building. We had members in all phases who had expertise, and they gave their knowledge and time freely.”

Brand became an IBBA member in 1967 and has since fervently served the association, its members and the Brangus breed. He served on too many committees to mention and served as president of the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA). He was recognized as IBBA’s Breeder of the Year in 1983 and received the Pioneer Award in 2011. Brand was also an inductee into the Brangus Breeder Hall of Fame sponsored by the Heart of America Brangus Breeders Association.

With his longevity and experience in the industry, he recognizes the opportunity cattle producers are being provided and encourages Brangus breeders take initiative

“The future of the entire beef industry looks brighter than ever,” Brand said. “We have a rare situation when the inventory is the lowest it has been in some fifty years and the domestic demand and exports are increasing.”

He said the Brangus breed needs a unified effort, one voice and unselfish dedication to this great breed to make advancements in the industry.

Past President Spotlight: Dale Kirkham

Dale KirkhamPresident 2009-2010

Dale Kirkham
President 2009-2010

It was not until 1989 this past president first started registering Brangus cattle and became a member of the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA). But once he had the opportunity, Dale Kirkham, who served as the 2009-2010 IBBA President, was eager to learn more about the breed and quickly became involved in the industry.

A Kansas native growing up on a diversified crop and livestock farm, Kirkham had little exposure to purebred cattle during his childhood. He worked in a sale barn and helped the neighbors with their cattle during his college days. However, it was not until 1984 that Kirkham gained familiarity with Brangus cattle.

Kirkham attended college at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kans., and after obtaining graduate degrees at the University of Wyoming and University of Missouri, he taught at small colleges in Indiana and southwest Missouri. After six years of teaching, Kirkham made a big decision to change careers and moved back to Kansas to begin working for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). After working at three other locations, he moved to Eureka in 1983.  A year later, an operation called Brinks Brangus started leasing the ranch where Kirkham was living at the time. With the help of other Brangus breeders, Kirkham launched his own Brangus operation.

“I wanted to get into the cattle business, and I bought my first cows in 1985 at a sale in Manhattan with the intention of running a commercial operation,” Kirkham said. “Fellow Brangus breeders Ray Thompson and Ken Hughes encouraged me to get started with Brangus and helped me implement AI techniques.”

Beginning in 1990, Vern Suhn, former manager of Brinks Brangus, assisted Kirkham with genetic breeding decisions and offered advice on purchasing cattle. Kirkham said he used AI techniques and heifer synchronization to manage his small herd and implemented intensive grazing management practices.

“It’s important to maintain cattle on forages that are already available instead of relying on supplemental feeds and feedstuffs,” Kirkham said. “There are too many cattle that are pampered and can’t hold their own when they go out to the commercial man.”

After Kirkham started his own operation, he joined his dad and brother in stocker and feeder cattle operations for several years from 1985 to the early 2000’s. He said this gave him a different perspective on other segments of the beef industry, allowing him to better understand his customers’ needs. In order to gain more knowledge about the breed, Kirkham said everyone should have diverse experiences and seek out opportunities beyond their own surroundings. Kirkham suggests visiting with other breeders about what they are doing on their operations to gain inspiration, new ideas, and more insight of the beef industry.

The IBBA hosts the largest gathering of Brangus producers and IBBA members in February at the Annual Convention and Global Brangus Roundup, in which Kirkham is a frequent participant. Kirkham said the convention provides breeders the opportunity to have an active role in the association and allows for better communication among members.

“Convention gives you a perspective of how the association operates,” Kirkham said. “I never walked away without gaining more enthusiasm about what I was doing on my own operation. Everybody out there, breeders both large and small, has different ideas, and you never know what idea will be the one that moves the breed and association forward.”

Kirkham said the biggest thing he learned from serving on the Board of Directors was the versatility of the IBBA membership because members came from all over the country with different needs and desires. He advises leaders to look at the big picture and see how decisions affect everyone.

“What the guy from Georgia wants is different from what the guy from Kansas wants,” Kirkham said. “It’s a challenge to make sure everybody is communicating and keeping everyone informed about what’s going on. Firsthand participation in open discussions is a good path to effective communication. The convention provides a great way to communicate with others in the breed and with the staff. I think we underestimate the value of face-to-face communication.”

Kirkham currently serves on the IBBA’s commercial marketing committee and is actively involved in both the Oklahoma Brangus Breeders Association and the Heart of America Brangus Breeders Association. You can find Kirkham at the upcoming IBBA Convention in February.


Note: It’s not too late to register for the 2013 IBBA Annual Convention. Visit to download a registration form and a schedule of events

Past President Spotlight: Tommie Rogers

IBBA President

Like many producers, Tommie Rogers of The Branch Ranch located in North Louisiana near Mansfield, started out in the beef industry raising commercial cattle. He bought into the seedstock industry with just six registered cows and one registered bull in the early 1980’s. Shortly after, his daughters were interested in showing Brangus cattle, and Rogers quickly got more involved in the Brangus breed.

Rogers knows a thing or two about successful marketing and promotion. Once he had obtained a line of quality genetics, Rogers established his own successful breeding program called the rough and ready program. He thought the industry needed to focus more on serving the commercial producer, and Rogers found his niche by providing tough, rugged bulls that would work for that sector. Rogers said having integrity is most important and makes the difference between just making a sale and being successful in the industry.

“It takes a combination of getting established and building integrity,” Rogers said. “Once you’ve been established, build integrity and stand behind the product you market.”

Rogers established the rough and ready program when he realized he needed to market a herd bull that would work hard at two years old and survive in tough conditions. He also knew seedstock producers needed to start providing bulls that would withstand the toughest environments, perform for commercial cattlemen and fit the needs of their breeding programs.

“I implement a fence-line weaning process then we grade our bulls and bring them into a controlled environment until they’re yearling age to gather data. Then I kick them out on rough country where the natural culling process begins,” Rogers said. “I am then able to market hardy bulls that are ready to go to work.”

Rogers said he culled stringently to increase the quality of his herd, keeping in mind the long-term goals he set for the program. The Branch Ranch has been able to sell bulls under the rough and ready program for about 10 years. He said it took some time for customers to realize the kind of product they were buying, but once the program was established, the number of repeat customers confirmed the program was working.

“Our Brangus breed is a hardy breed and has many advantages qualities,” Rogers said, ”but I’ve got to raise him and train him to live a hardy lifestyle. I can stand behind my product and not worry about anything because I know my bulls will work.”

Rogers knows the value of Brangus bulls, but he also reminds breeders of the value of the Brangus female. The BrangusGold tagging program offered by the IBBA ensures buyers they are getting quality, verified Brangus genetics. Especially during this drought period, Rogers said seedstock producers need to promote the commercial man’s need for quality replacement females.

“Our breed is here today because of the females the commercial cattlemen can retain in their herds and will perform,” Rogers said. “The calves produced out of that herd can produce quality carcass traits that will grade on the rail, but our females carry the maternal traits the commercial man is looking for. The Brangus cow is what brought us to the dance.”

Rogers served on several committees while serving on the IBBA Board of Directors from 1995-2003 and has since been a strong proponent of the Brangus breed. Rogers said adaptability, endurance and the value of the Brangus female are three strengths that set the breed apart from all others. Promoting those advantages to the commercial producer and keeping long-term goals in sight will ensure the future success of the Brangus breed.

Past President Spotlight: Eddie Blazek

The Past President Spotlight is a column we feature in our bi-monthly publication, the Brangus Journal. We hope you learn from these great leaders who have extensive experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Eddie Blazek
IBBA President 2004-2005

Having served the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) as a former president in 2004-2005, Eddie Blazek, owner of Mound Creek Ranch, has a positive outlook for the future of the breed and particularly for further developing international relations. Blazek and his team at Mound Creek near Leona, Texas, have developed successful working relationships with seedstock Brangus breeders and commercial producers from all over the world.

Mound Creek Ranch has an ongoing successful business relationship with Juan and Santiago Debernardi, some of the most reputable agribusiness leaders in Argentina and South America. When it comes to international markets, Blazek said Genex/CRI and the Debernardi family have been very instrumental in opening doors. Their understanding of protocols and procedures to meet export requirements is essential. Blazek emphasized having patience, courtesy and knowledge about your product is critical when developing international relationships.

“We go in with the mindset to build relationships first and marketing second,” Blazek said. “It’s fun to build familiarity with their customs and their needs. The interest and desire to increase quality in their beef cattle has grown exponentially.”

Blazek was involved in the cattle business at a young age with his father’s commercial cattle herd in Teague, Texas, which had very little Bos indicus influence. After he graduated with an agriculture business degree from Sam Houston State University in 1975, Blazek started out on his own business venture. He sought to purchase the best commercial cows he could find for the best price available. He purchased some commercial females from a herd liquidation sale; half of that herd was pedigreed Brangus females. Once he bred them to a registered Brangus bull he purchased from Harold Gore, the results were unbeatable.

“These Brangus females consistently outperformed and produced the best product,” Blazek said. “Bottom line they made more money.”

Impressed by the results that were produced by the Brangus breed, Blazek invested in the seedstock industry and purchased his first registered females in 1987 at the Genetic Connection sale hosted by Pete Raines and Ray Blair in Hunstville, Texas. Mound Creek now hosts some of the top averaging sales in the country. With the valuable experience and insight he has gained as a Brangus producer and effective leader in the seedstock industry, Blazek said the future of the breed remains positive and prosperous.

“As breeders, as members and as an association, the future of the breed is in our hands,” Blazek said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Brangus has more future and promise than any other beef breed, and it’s up to us to move it forward.”

Blazek’s foresight is supported by years of experience and involvement in the Brangus breed. His emphasis on implementing the latest technologies and highest quality genetics makes Mound Creek an innovative leader in the seedstock industry domestically and internationally. Mound Creek Ranch initiated a complete new genetics program in the mid ‘90s that is now their hallmark of quality Brangus genetics. Also, the Mound Creek program has a zero tolerance policy in the economically important areas of fertility, skeletal soundness, udder quality, and female accountability.

Not only did Blazek serve as president for the IBBA, but he has served as president for the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA) and several other regional associations as well. During his term as president, Blazek believed in effective leadership and made it a priority to unite the members of the association. In 2001, he was recognized by his peers as the IBBA Breeder of the Year. Outside of his involvement in the industry, Blazek participates in church missions and activities, and he helps develop programs that assist underprivileged youth.

Past President Spotlight: Gary Bruns

The Past President Spotlight is a column we feature in our bi-monthly publication, the Brangus Journal. We hope you learn from these great leaders who have extensive experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Gary Bruns
IBBA President 1994-1996

ImageIn his many years of involvement with the Brangus breed, Gary Bruns has served the industry and the association in several capacities. His knowledge and expertise now make him one of the best marketers in the business at Advance Solutions Network.

Bruns initially gained valuable experience working with cattle growing up in Madison, S.D. Upon returning from Vietnam in 1970, Bruns worked for an Angus cattle operation in Ohio where he bought several Brangus bulls because of the breed’s ability to adapt to different climates.

“Brangus did well in the North even in the cold weather, and I saw firsthand how well Brangus perform,” Bruns said. “In Texas, Brangus handle the heat and humidity better as compared to other breeds from my experience.” 

In 1973, Bruns was employed as manager of Willow Springs Ranch of Burton, Texas, a premier Brangus operation. After six years with Willow Springs, Gary and his wife, Gwen, moved to Fort Stockton, Texas, where he was given a general manager position with Williams Brangus, owned by Clayton and Modesta Williams. When the operation moved to Floresville, Texas, in 1983, Gary and Gwen were made partners in the cattle ranch. Bruns’ years of involvement and experience in the industry have given him knowledge and insight about the Brangus breed.

“Brangus females are in high demand right now,” Bruns said, “and we have more demand than product for good quality bulls.” He adds, “It is important to improve disposition not just in Brangus, but in all breeds as well.

Bruns served his country as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, his industry as a seedstock producer, and the Brangus breed in numerous ways. Bruns is a longtime member of the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA) and a past President of the Hill Country Brangus Breeders Association (HCBBA). In 1992, the HCBBA honored Bruns with the Member of the Year award. He was also an elected member on the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) Board of Directors, serving as President from 1995-1996. Bruns was awarded the IBBA’s Breeder of the Year award at the 1993 Annual Convention in Houston for his dedication to the improvement of the breed. Bruns’ years of involvement and experience make him an accomplished, knowledgeable and respected leader in the beef industry and among seedstock producers.