by Karl H. Kazaks
YANCEYVILLE, NC — Earlier this year, Bobby Aldridge was inducted into the North Carolina Angus Association Hall of Fame. The honor is reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the breed and to the association.
Aldridge describes being part of the Hall of Fame as “the biggest honor.”
Oakview Angus (Aldridge’s operation) was also one of nine herds nationwide recognized by the American Angus Association® in 2012 with an Historic Angus Herd Award — given to breeders who have produced registered Angus for 50 or more continuous years.
“I’ve seen a lot of breeds come and a lot of breeds go,” said Aldridge. “Angus has done pretty well. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it.”
Aldridge has been raising cattle since 1946, when his father Carlton — who started the Angus herd the year before — gave him a heifer as compensation for his previous year’s work. Since then, Aldridge has been working to grow and improve his herd.
Each year, Aldridge sells about 20 bulls — a few from test, and about 15 or 16 private treaty. He also sells a few cow-calf pairs at sales. This year he consigned a number of cow-calf pairs and a bred heifer to the NC Angus Spring Fever Sale (May 4th).
“I’ve never done much heifer selling,” Aldridge said. “I like to see if they’re productive before I sell them.”
Aldridge uses a similarly careful approach in choosing bulls. “I do a lot of research on any bull before I use him,” he said.
The genetic qualities Aldridge selects for include maternal traits, growth, and confirmation. He uses a lot of ABS semen but has bulls from other stud services as well. Select Sires’ New Day 454, for example, he calls “a right good bull.”
Recently Aldridge has been using In Focus (109) and New Design (878). “Those two bulls worked really well,” he said.
He also likes how Image Maker producers “really good” maternal characteristics, even if his progeny are “not as popular in sales.
“Overall,” he continued, “I’ve never used what I call a bad bull. Some have been better than others. I’ve been lucky.”
Among the many good bulls Aldridge has used, he said that Connealy Impression was probably the best of them all.
In the 1950s, Aldridge and his father succumbed to the preference for small-framed animals. “The toughest job we had was breeding out of those small-framed animals,” he recalled. Since then, he has eschewed fads and relied on his own criteria and judgment in developing his herd.
To great success. A longtime supporter of performance testing as a means to evaluate his animals and improve the breed, Aldridge has put bulls in at the tests stations in Butner and Salisbury as well as the forage test station in Clinton. He also took bulls to the Bennett’s test station in Red House, VA, when it was operating.
He has had the top selling or top indexing (or both) bulls many times, from as far back as 1990 to as recently as 2007-2008, when one of his bulls was the top indexing and top selling at the Butner test station.
During his teenage years, Aldridge showed cattle. In 1954, he showed the grand champion and won the showmanship award at the Piedmont Livestock Show in Greensboro.
In addition to raising beef, Aldridge also for many years raised about 26 acres of tobacco. He quit the leaf business in 1996, before converting his operation to mechanized planting or harvesting.
“One of the things that makes me proudest,” Aldridge said, “is that all the money in the cattle was earned on this farm.”
Aldridge mainly sells to cattlemen in North Carolina, but has sold to Virginia, West Virginia, even Indiana.
Aldridge, who has been married for 57 years to Kathleen (they have three sons), is active in community affairs. He was on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Angus Association and was a Caswell County Commissioner for 20 years, serving as both vice-chairman and chairman.
“The Lord has been good to me,” Aldridge said. “I’ve really done good in the Angus business. I’m gonna keep in them as long as I can walk.”