Efficient Show Cattle
Bill Hamm and his wife, Sarah, grew up about 11 miles from each other on farms east of Fayetteville, Ark. They really did not know each other growing up, but a common interest would bring them together. Bill’s dad, Wayne Hamm, had commercial cattle in the 70s and bought his first registered Polled Hereford heifer in 1973. By 1976, the Hamm family only owned Polled Herefords.
Sarah’s dad, Stanley Swope, had been in the registered Polled Hereford business since the late 1940s. By the late 60s, Sarah’s family was showing cattle on the county, district and state level. In fact, Sarah had been showing at the Arkansas State Fair since 1968 and showed at the first 12 National Junior Polled Hereford shows.
Bill and Sarah had their first date at the 1981 Washington Country Fair, and as Bill said, “the rest was history.” The two married in July 1985. The families started working together to increase the quality of their herds, but retained the individuality of Circle S Farm and Hamm’s Polled Herefords.
The couple now lives in Sarah’s childhood home 6 miles north of Elkins, Ark., with their sons, James, 16, and Austin, 13. Everyone shares in the daily chores of feeding and checking the herd.
The family has about 45 registered Polled Hereford cows. Three herd bulls are shared in partnership with Wayne, who also owns about50 registered Polled Hereford cows. Until his death in 1993, Stanley was also a partner.
The Hamms sell most of their bulls and heifers private treaty. With the genetics of numerous bloodlines, most of them sired by National Grand Champions, incorporated in his herd, Bill said he offers seedstock, commercial and show cattle to producers across Arkansas and beyond, and he does it fairly.
“I wouldn’t sell an animal to anyone that I wouldn’t buy myself,” said Bill. “Each animal is priced according to its strengths because I want each customer feel good about his purchase.”
Bill said he believes in great customer service and word-of-mouth to promote Circle S Farm and Hamm’s Polled Herefords.
“When a producer buys an animal from me, it is registered, tattooed, vaccinated and ready to go,” Bill said. “We also make sure to deliver the animals to the buyers. If someone makes the effort to come out to my place to look at my animals, I want to make sure they are getting the best quality and the best deal possible, and hopefully that person will remember to mention our name to his friends.”
The family’s performance at local and state shows also adds credibility to the cattle. Sarah never stopped showing once she started and even attended her last Junior National Show only two weeks after she married Bill. James and Austin attended their first fairs as babies and started showing at the age of four. Both are active in the Elkins 4-H Club, and James is also active in the Elkins FFA. They have won numerous classes at the Washington County Fair and the Arkansas State Fair. As a team, the boys exhibited the Champion Cow/Calf Pair at the 2001 Arkansas State Fair. In 2005 the family exhibited the Reserve Grand Champion Bull at the Arkansas State Fair, and two years later, James showed the Fall Bull Calf Division Champion Bull at the show.
Bill said he does not breed for the show ring, even though most of the family’s cow herd consists of cows that have been shown at least once.
“There is little consistency when it comes to judges and their opinions these days. You can win a class with a calf one day and be near the bottom of the class the next; it just depends on what that specific judge is looking for,” Bill said.
Bill, who works full-time for the Fayetteville Fire Department, said he quit artificially inseminating his cows because his work schedule never seemed to match with the cows’ schedules. Instead, he said he relies on high quality bulls with the genetics to produce good milk and low birth weight EPDs to increase his herd.
“With my work schedule, the last thing we want is calving troubles, and we have had to pull very few calves in the past few years,” Bill said. “We aren’t trying to raise show or commercial cows; we are just trying to raise good quality Polled Herefords that will work all around, and we have a program that works for us.”