The DaKitch Hereford story started from one 4-H heifer purchased by my parents, Roy and Luverne Kitchell, for my first year in 4-H. During school’s winter break about Dec. 28, 1959, I purchased a heifer from Orville Self Farm by Ada for $200. The heifer was a horned yearling sired by TR, (Turner Ranch) sire from Oklahoma. She was named TR Zato Heiress.
The reason I started with Herefords was because my cousin and I were about the same age and our parents would not let us have the same breed. He had an Angus heifer and I liked Herefords.
As the first picture shows I received a blue ribbon on my first heifer at the Norman County fair in July 1959.
The second picture shows a small steer calf. The heifer’s first calf that I showed at the 1961 Norman County fair receiving a red ribbon my third 4-H year. This calf was sired by David G. Johnson’s bull. David G. Johnson was a neighbor and registered Horned Hereford breeder.
The second year in 4-H I did not have an animal. So, with the advice of Ken Baker, my dad and I went to Oxley Hereford Ranch at Mahnomen MN. Bob Schafer was the manager. Here I purchased my first steer. This was a big-time ranch and quiet and experience for an eleven-year-old. Bob, my dad and I went out to look through the herd for good steers. Bob drove a single seat two-wheel drive Ford pickup with the saddled horse in the back end. The horse kept chewing Bob’s hat wanting to get out and chase cows. When we saw some good ones, Bob would unload the horse and round up the calves. The steer I purchased was a blue ribbon at the Norman County fair.
There were empty barns at home for me to expand my herd in. My dad did not have beef cattle. So I purchased more Herefords from Ken and Ronald Baker of Ada. At the time I graduated from high school in 1967, my herd numbered 36.
I was able to receive my MN State and American Farmer Degree in FFA due to this project. These cows helped pay for my college degree from University of Minnesota with little debt.
I became active in the MN Junior Hereford Assn. when it was first formed at the Lester Schafer farm in Buffalo Lake, MN in 1967. I was on the first Junior Board along with Mary Delaney, Allen Werk, John Baker, and Bob Werk. These people were new friends then and have lasted a lifetime. I served as MN Junior President in 1970 – 1971. I was master of ceremony at the Junior Field Day held at Oxley Herefords in July 1971. I truly enjoyed going to Kansas City to the annual meeting and junior activities to look at Hereford history.
In 1971 my farm name was changed to DaKitch Hereford Farms. This was an idea from an Angus breeder friend, to use DA from David and Kitch from Kitchell.
The weights of the calves were taken in 1968 under the help of Charles Christens, my college General Livestock coach and MN Junior Hereford advisor. I only had 4-10 cows but still liked to compare them on the printout. I started on TPR in 1977. I sent in records on all the calves at weaning from all the cows for years before it became required by all breeders. I was fortunate enough to own 4 Trait Leaders pasture bulls. They were L1 Big Storm as yearling weight trait leader, 77U, birth weight trait leader and Bar-E-L Emmeth & DaKitch Domino 52A total performance trait leader (SOD bull).
The APHA recognized cows that were Dam of Distinction for 7 years in a row. This was called Gold Benchmark cows. I had the most in the Nation with 3 cows in 1982. All 3 were AI’d for most of those 7 years.
After college graduation I taught Ag for two years and still maintained a small, registered Hereford herd. On Jan.1, 1973 I started full time ranching and farming. I purchased 25 cows, 20 calves and 1 herd bull from Tibbetts Ranch at Terry, Montana. My herd number was over 100 by that fall. Only Polled Hereford bulls were used on the cows since 1973 because 3 prominent Horned Hereford breeders were in my neighborhood. They were Ken Baker, Ronald Baker, and Oxley Herefords. My first pure Polled Hereford females I bought from ANL Polled Herefords at Steelman, Saskatchewan, Canada.
In 1979 I became the Secretary/Treasurer of the MN Polled Hereford Assn. I learned to work with new and old breeders with Hereford promotions. The first Go-Pher the Purple sale was in 1980. I assembled and mailed out the catalog to buyers. I consigned to the Gopher Sale for 25 years straight. I have served on the MPHA board and was president for 4 years over the last 30 years. I also served on the Gopher selection committee for 4 different years and served as chairman.
I showed a pen of bulls at the Black Hills Stock show in 1998. This was the first year they would allow polled bulls to enter. This pen placed reserve champion, behind the champion pen which also was the 1998 Denver Champion Pen. This gave me the encouragement to show in Denver.
I always wanted to show in the yards at Denver National Show, and in 1999 I decided to do it. I placed 4th that year with a pen of yearling bulls. Then in 2010 to celebrate 50 years in the Hereford business my family decided to show a pen of heifers and to participate in The National sale for our first time. Our pen of heifers won reserve of the show and we sold two of them in The National Sale. These cattle have done great for the new owners. In 2011 we also entered a pen of heifers and bulls in Denver and sold one bull and one heifer in The National Sale.
This couldn’t be done without my family. My wife, Lorie and sons Matthew, Michael and Mason. The sons we have raised have made this possible because of their love and dedication to the rural lifestyle. Matthew is the one that takes care of getting the cattle ready for show and sale and took them to the national shows.
Who would have thought that in 1958 that one 4-H Hereford would lead to over 50 years of raising Herefords on our ranch/farm.
It has been an honor and privilege to raise Herefords on this land and the life that we enjoy.
I didn’t get rich along the way with Herefords, but it depends on what you define as rich! Rich to me is raising good cattle, enjoying my life and meeting great people.
DaKitch Hereford Farms