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Our family began raising cattle in the rolling hills of southern Iowa as soon as our ancestors arrived by covered wagon in 1854. Our path to accelerated genetic improvement and seedstock production began with Charlie Drake, Larry Drake’s father. Born in 1896, Charlie’s mother died when he was young and his father worked the coal mines to pay the bills while Charlie finished the eighth grade in school. From these humble beginnings, Charlie took the required test to become licensed as a teacher and taught in a one room school house on land now owned by Larry. Charlie then served America on the front line in France during World War I and was in a French hospital recovering from a German gas attack when the Armistice was signed.
Charlie returned home and attended Iowa State University on the early version of the GI bill and studied agriculture. There he learned of the new Polled Hereford breed and our path to seedstock production began. Drake Polled Herefords, with Charlie and Larry as stewards, became a decorated seedstock operation and established a broad base of commercial bull and seedstock buyers. As Larry became the primary driving force behind the operation he became one of the very early breeders to introduce Simmental genetics into the herd when he began AIing cows to the new breed in 1970 and in 1972 purchased the second three-quarter blood Simmental bull ever sold in the state of Iowa from the famous Garst Company. Larry was issued American Simmental Association member #2653. The farm became known for quality and practical genetics. Then, with the additions of breed icons Red Top and Avalanche to the bull battery , Drake cattle also began to excel in the show ring. From 1992 to 2003 Drake Simmental herds produced 40 state fair grand and reserve champions (from California to Texas to New Jersey and states in between), 8 National Western Open or Junior Show Grand and Reserve champions, 19 National Western Division champions or reserves, 9 Regional Classic champions or reserves, 20 division champions or reserves in major shows such as the Royal, Louisville, Fort Worth etc. and 12 state level expo or futurity grand or reserve grand champions. At a National Classic four of the top twenty heifers were sired by four different Drake herd bulls as was the number four percentage heifer and second place cow calf. Drake Simmentals was named the Premier Breeder at the National Western Livestock Show in Denver in 2003, 2005 and 2006. In addition, Larry purchased one of the early black Simmental bulls, Black Shadow, to sell in America. He also sold the first black polled purebred Simmental bull ever sold at the Iowa Beef Expo, a bull that later sired the Grand Champion Female at the American Royal. In 2012 Larry and Carol Drake were honored as Iowa’s Seedstock Producers of the Year.
While raising show cattle is entertaining, our focus has remained on the real beef industry, providing superior genetics to the commercial and seedstock industries through bull and female sales. For production farms and ranches, cattle cannot be coddled but rather must be made up of the genetics to thrive on minimal inputs and for this reason our herds are run like yours-our calves are not fed creep feed and the cows maintain on pasture, hay and crop residue almost exclusively. The cows must breed every year, be docile and produce a calf that weans off at a substantial percentage of the mother’s body weight, all on minimal inputs. The bulls and females you purchase form us are backed by nearly a 100 years of genetic selection for these traits. We invite you to study our herds and the bulls and females available for sale and are happy to answer any questions you may have about our program.