The Ranch

ABC's - the Cobb Family Tradition

Educated at Stanford as a geologist for his father's oil company, Alfred Burl jr. "Buddy" and Cecile Cobb moved to his family's ranch west of Augusta, Montana along the Rocky Mountain Front in 1952. They were absolutely new to cattle ranching, possessing the gift of ignorance with no prior traditions or prejudices to overcome. And when the price of cattle fell 50% that year, they realized they would soon go broke, unless they could somehow produce more pounds of beef within the limits of the environment in which they operated.

They purchased a 15/16 Charolais bull, "Snowball," based upon the bull's performance records, from Clint Ferris of Tie Siding, Wyoming for $900 in 1954. A friendship with M.G. "Maxy' Michaelis and later Max III and Sharon Michaelis, of Kyle, Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, brought linebred original Jean Pugibet Charolais stock, imported from France to Mexico in 1930-33, to the Cobb Ranch in Montana. Every Cobb animal traces his or her lineage back to this special foundation herd.

Buddy was trained to think analytically and methodically, and detailed records were part of his former scientific life.  A friendship with Dr. Ray Woodward of the renowned Ft. Keogh Livestock Experiment Station of Miles City, MT, originators of the famous "Line 1" Herefords, further cemented his resolve to use careful linebreeding and culling, supported by meticulous performance records, for greater progeny uniformity and consistency.  Using performance records as the basis for herd selection became part of a movement that grew into the Beef Improvement Federation. Buddy helped pioneer the founding of not only the BIF, but also the American International Charolais Association, and the Mexican and Canadian Associations as well.

John graduated from Montana State-Bozeman and U of M Law School, and Mike graduated from Univ. of Montana-Missoula.   After 24 years of continuous service in both the House and Senate of Montana's Legislature John was retired in 2009 due to term limits.  Buddy and Cecile passed away in 2002 and 2003.  Cheryl recently served 6 years as the Region 1 Director on the Charolais AICA Board of Directors for the northwest states.  John and Mike and their families, all living and working on the ranch for 35-plus years, continue their tradition of producing economic, functional Charolais. 


In addition to the performance data records beginning in 1956, we continue to add technological evaluations, such as ultrasound data and genetic testing, to provide us more data in the ongoing selection process for our own herd replacements, continuing to raise better cattle.  Sixty-plus years of continual inherd and linebred selection is reflected in the uniformity and consistency of these cattle and their resulting progeny.  We have utilized this selection method to constantly eliminate the lower-performing animals from our breeding program while retaining the top animals for replacements ("Keeping the best and culling the worst."--Buddy Cobb).  Our EPD's for Terminal Sire Selection are among the top in the Charolais breed in the nation, all backed up with complete performance data. 

A link to "Inbreeding in Cattle" by Dr. Sally Northcutt and colleagues of Oklahoma State explains the practice of using this linebreeding method thoughtfully:     oksa_ANSI-3165_2004-05.pdf   "All inbreeding does not result in disaster when the use of inbreeding centers on genetically superior individuals. Linebreeding is probably the best known use of inbreeding. Linebreeding is an attempt to maintain a high relationship to some outstanding ancestor while keeping inbreeding as low as possible." p.3165-4.  Linebred animals offer the most consistency for desirable traits, especially when used for crossbreeding or outcrossing.


      We wish to thank renowned Charolais breeders, from Montana's own         DeBruycker, Eaton, Franz, and Stipe families, to producers in such diverse   environments as Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, the   Dakotas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Texas, from   Quebec to Alberta, and back to northern Mexico, who have either begun with   or added Cobb Charolais genetics to their herds. You'll spot the "ABC" in the   extended pedigrees.