For the Kriese family at Spring Pond Farms, raising beef cattle is an indelible part of their history. John Kriese, the current owner of Spring Pond Farm II, has been raising Herefords on his own since his grandfather gave him one as a gift back in 1970. His daughter, Kate, is established in the beef showing world in New York State, winning multiple Grand Champion 4-H awards for her Hereford heifers.
The Kriese family has been raising Hereford beef cattle in New York State for more than 50 years and was officially recognized for this accomplishment by the American Hereford Association in 2009. John’s parents, Ted and Marge Kriese, operate Spring Pond Farm out of Cato, NY and John and Anita operate the Spring Pond Farm II out of Branchport, NY.
“Our father instilled the passion for beef cattle into us,” said John. That passion for raising cattle is what turned the Spring Pond Farms from a simple hobby farm into a full-fledged purebred operation, specializing in high-quality Hereford, Black Angus, and Red Angus bulls.
At first, the Kriese family only raised Hereford cattle and grew a few crops.
“We didn’t come from a big farm. We didn’t come from a well established family,” John explained. However, what they lacked in history they made up for with persistence and research. This led to producing better Herefords that would go on to do well in state fairs and competitions, with Kate showing them for 4-H.
Spring Pond Farms have been participating in the New York State Fair since 1969. They choose to show only their own born and bred cattle, raised right in Branchport for the shows.
“We haven’t always won, we’ve been beat down throughout those years,” John said of the 46 years they have been showing, “But we’ve been blessed with multiple awards and champions as well.”
Herefords remained the main product of the farms until Angus cows became the darling of the beef market. That was when the family decided to diversify. “If you can’t beat them, join them,” John said.
This meant becoming more aggressive in the mathematical aspect of the herd, studying EPDs and measuring as many characteristics as they could. Their son Clayton helps organize the results of the testing to keep them moving forward.
John and his farm formed a partnership with Dr. Timothy J. Dennis and together started three registered herds of Black and Red Angus cattle.
Together, John and Dennis are working towards the same goal. “We have a vision to create the best cattle that we possibly can,” John said.
Part of that vision involves sending bulls from all three breeds to the Pennsylvania and the Midland Bull Tests. John sees this as the strongest test for their animals.
“We invest in those Montana-based genetics,” he said. “If our cattle can go to Montana, survive and flourish, they are going to do well anywhere.”
Now, along with the cattle raising, John works to inspire other future farmers by being the Agricultural teacher at Penn Yan Academy in Penn Yan, New York. He works to make his curriculum diverse, but still focused on production agriculture.
“Many of my students are not farmers,” John said, “but I think we need to continually teach our students where our food comes from and the factors affecting food production.”
From breeding generations of top performing bulls to teaching a generation about agricultural, the family of Spring Pond Farms not only keeps their legacy alive but also the passion of beef farming alive as well.