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David Sparks Ph.d A Cattle Family
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: December 20, 2018

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In A Cattle Family, Dr. Jim Males tells the story of four generations of the Purdy family and their impact on the beef cattle industry through breeding cattle, training the next generation of cattlemen, and research. Starting with Grant and Sherman Purdy in the late 1800’s, and their Purdy Brothers Shorthorns, through the current generation, which Dr. Males represents, it is a safe statement that no family has had more impact on seedstock cattle. Special attention is given to Herman Purdy; the most famous livestock judge in history. The book is written in meticulous detail that is the obvious result of extensive research by Males.


Each generation of Purdys were people of their time, and excelled at the norms of their day. In this way, A Cattle Family does an outstanding job of chronicling ideal cattle types and selection practices over time. It also foretells where the industry was heading, and how a family anticipated and led in these changes. This starts with the transition the industry took from the dual-purpose to beef type Shorthorns in the late 1800’s, and then the move towards ever earlier maturing cattle until the 1960’s. It then covers the move to the current performance testing principles and objective selection used today.


A microcosm of the industry changes and the ideal cattle type is represented in the many champion steers shown by the family that are chronicled in the book.

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