Minnesota breeder always in the hunt at Mile High

Delaney Herefords will put their stand-out bulls on the Hereford sale at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

The Delaney Herefords family say they’ve been blessed with success at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. This year, they’ll submit a 2019 bull, “Standout,” for the Hereford Mile High sale in January. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

LAKE BENTON, Minn. — Delaney Herefords will put their stand-out bulls on the Hereford sale at the National Western Stock Show in Denver in mid-January.

They take their top 10 bulls to Denver, as they do every year, Jerry Delaney says. In 2015, the Delaneys won the so-called “carload” category and often place as reserve champion.

“We make ’em sweat, put it that way,” Jerry says, smiling with relish.

The purebred Hereford operation started with Jerry’s father, Jack, with a 4-H project in 1936. The Delaneys started conducting their own sales in 1969.


The Delaney Herefords at Lake Benton, Minn., is run by, from left, Nick Delaney, 25, and his parents, Shelly and Jerry Delaney. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

Today’s partners are Jerry and his wife, Michelle “Shelly.” Their son, Nick, 25, joined the operation full-time after graduating from South Dakota State University in late 2017.

The Delaneys hold two sales a year.

Bull sale Jan. 27

Their online sale, was held Oct. 21 for their 10 heifer calves and 10 embryo lots. They have a bull sale Jan. 27, with online bidding as well. This year, they have 40 bulls and about 25 registered bred heifers and another 15 black commercial bred heifers.

The Delaneys used to bring the animals through a ring, but now have three televisions monitors available for spectators at the show, and the animals stay outside. Attendance can range from 20 to 200, depending on conditions. Customers come from the Mexico border into Canada.

“We try to raise and sell 50 Hereford bulls and some bred females,” Nick says. “The bulls gotta be easy-fleshing, got some doability to them. Softness. Loose-hided. In times like this, they’ve got to be able to withstand the winter.”


The bulls have to deal with the mud and still have enough condition to go out and breed cows. “Their daughters they make also have to also have that condition so they can be bred as females,” Nick says. “Ultimately, it’s about keeping up enough weight so they can keep growing, and maintain a level so they can be high-producing females for wherever they go.”

Mile High sale

They sell a bull on the Mile High National Hereford Sale in Denver — the best of the best sales for the breed, where breeders meet to discuss trends. “We’ve been blessed to have some success out in Denver,” Nick says, “It’s something we put a lot of work and effort into.

“Herefords are really popular now, and it’s for a good reason. Especially in weather like this, times like this, they have a hardiness that is useful when crossbred to Angus cows. They have some docility that is necessary.”

The Delaneys’ entry in the national bull sale, named “Standout,” has a high quality set of “expected progeny differences.” The EPD predicts how future progeny might perform relative to other animals in the database.

Born Jan. 27, Standout weaned at a healthy 946 pounds.

Standout has “heavy pigment,” meaning has dark coloring around his eyes, a trend in the breed that bodes well for eye health and increases the percentage of the desirable dark hide, when bred with black cows.

“He’s soft and rugged in his appearance,” Nick says. “He’s sound, in terms of his feet and legs. He’s got a deep eye-set, a good hood over his eyes.” Simply put, he’ll represent Delaney Herefords well.


Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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