The Andras Stock Farm Story
In the 1830s, our ancestors moved to West-Central Illinois to a village commonly known as "Burnt Haystacks Springs". This town acquired the title as settlers would make hay during the summer months, before continuing Westward, so that the next group of settlers would have hay enough to make it through the Illinois Winter. This became a prime target for the local Indian tribe to express their feelings toward the settlers. They would ride through and torch the numerous haystacks, hence the name, "Burnt Haystacks Springs". Once John Cennick Andras saw the beauty of this area and decided to settle here in 1837, he helped incorporate the town and renamed it after his hometown of Manchester, England. Steve and Will represent the fifth and sixth generations, respectively, of the Andras family in this town.
Although our family already had cattle, our involvement in the purebred industry began in 1898 with the purchase of 2 "well-bred" heifers and a bull from Scott & Marsh, Belton, MO. J.C. Andras, then almost 13 years old, paid $600 for the three head with money saved from selling seed corn. These few animals started a legacy that few have achieved. This legacy became known as Daylesford Farms. The Andras Hereford operation grew by leaps and bounds. By the 1920s, our family had annual production sales and became a force at national-level exhibitions. The railroad company would drop off a rail car in Manchester, onto which, the show cattle, tack, feed, food, crew and hay were loaded. Usually riding in the boxcar with the cattle, the Andras boys would settle in for a train ride, often of several days in duration. They were regular exhibitors at Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Worth and Denver.
The fruit of many years of breeding and promoting came in 1935 when they were the first to have a Hereford bull win all three major shows. Don Axtell the 16th (pictured) quickly became a phenomenon. This 2200# "package of beef" was soon to be dubbed "King of the Whitefaces". Daylesford Farms promoted these Hereford genetics for years, annual production sales continued clear up through the late 1940s, with cattle selling from coast to coast.
Still operating on the home farm in Manchester, today, the Andras family is still actively involved in the purebred cattle business. Through the years, the Andras heirs have gone different directions to pursue their dreams. Though owning fewer acres, the legacy lives on in Manchester. Since the 1940s, we have continued to raise Hereford and Polled Hereford cattle (and probably always will). As shifts in marketability took place, we took an extreme fondness to the Red Angus breed.
Billy Andras, Steven's father, said that if he ever left the Hereford breed, he would probably raise Red Angus. Years after his passing, this mind stuck with Steven. While visiting the Iowa Beef Expo in 1985, during a break in our schedule, we (Steven and Will - then 10 years old) decided to sit in on the Red Angus sale that was already underway. We were immediately struck by the beautiful hair coats, calm dispositions, and consistently attractive phenotypes represented. We were actually there to find an affordable Polled Hereford heifer in which Will could invest his 4-H steer money.
We watched as Rex and Joann James brought several very nicely made yearling heifers through the ring, each selling somewhere between $800 and $1000...far beyond the reach of Will's 4-H savings. Kyle Gilchrist, the auctioneer, made an announcement regarding the next heifer to enter the ring, something to do with extra white on her underline, but, as Hereford breeders, we didn't recognize this as a flaw. This very nice heifer then entered the ring, and the bidding began. To our surprise, she reached a plateau at $450. Steve leaned down and asked Will if he liked her, he loved her. Steve allowed Will to bid on her if he wanted her. For a single bid of $485, we entered the Red Angus business.
Within the next few years, we purchased a small herd out of Ohio, as well as cattle from Iowa and Montana. In 1989, Will received a certificate that his $485 pride and joy (namely, RC JAMES 911) ranked #19 in the nation for TM EPD. Incidentally, 911 was never bred naturally during the first seven years of her life, and never AI'd more than once a year, always raised our top calf. We had her flushed twice, and at the age of 16, she had the highest MPPA in our herd (108.6). Near the end of 2003, just short of her 19th birthday, 911 met her demise.
We have been extremely blessed in the Red Angus breed. We have exhibited one National Champion Bull, One Reserve National Champion Bull, Two Grand Champion Bulls at the NAILE, One Grand Champion Female at the NAILE, one Champion Pen of 3 Heifers at the NWSS, as well as numerous division and progeny champions at such notable Red Angus shows as the Iowa State Fair, Louisville (NAILE), Denver (NWSS), and Fort Worth (SWLE).
Still having a handful of Polled Hereford cows, as well as a small registered Angus herd, the vast majority of our cow herd is Red Angus. We currently calve about 180 cows at home as well as another 80 via cooperator herds. We utilize extensive AI and ET (do our own embryo work on farm).
We want to give all thanks and praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the privilege to raise His cattle on His land (Psalm 50:10). We hope that our lives and our business bring glory to His name.