Rivercrest Angus has no signs of slowing down any time soon.
With seed stock cattle from the established fourth-generation ranch reaching as far as Scotland, Mexico, Russia, Japan and the US, as well as Canada, the family is strong in their continued genetics and breeding program.
Located along the Battle River near Alliance, Alta. the Spady family has an impressive pedigree involving both the Angus breed and 4-H.
It all began in 1937 when Jack Spady purchased two purebred Angus cows and a bull from a drover passing through.
He paid three and a half cents a pound for the bull who weighed 2,400 pounds and two cents a pound for the cows which weighed 1,400 and 1,600 pounds.
Those old Pride cows gave him his start in the purebred business with many descendants forming the backbone of the Angus breed back then.
Tom Spady, his son, got his start at a young age by purchasing four of the famous Valleymere Pride females from Jack back in 1955 and then went on to register the Rivercrest name in 1963.
Tom and wife Marg’s homestead is located in the Battle River Valley which led them to come up with the name Rivercrest.
Tom and his brothers held production sales from 1975 to 1983 at the Rivercrest Ranch.
They also sold bulls at the Calgary Bull Sale for several years through the 1950’s to late 1990’s.
They now host their own bull sale with Tom, son Craig, Craig’s nephew Cody Innocent, Craig’s cousins Travis and Brian, and his children Cayden and Jamie-Lee since 2003 at the ranch.
“It’s quite special to us to have the whole family involved in our sales extending now into its fourth generation,” said Craig.
The family is decorated with many banners and buckles from the showing world, a highlight being in 1971; Tom won Reserve Grand Champion Bull at the Calgary Spring Show.
In 1976, Tom’s daughter Sherri won the Canadian National Junior Angus Reserve Champion Heifer.
Tom also won the Grand Champion Bull at the Lethbridge Angus Show that same year.
In 1979, daughter Debby won the Canadian National Junior Angus Grand Champion Heifer and in 2001, Tom won Grand Champion Bull at the Lacombe Bull Sale.
Father, Tom Spady and grandfather, Jack Spady, taught Craig about cattle and breeding quality genetics with his own love for purebreds beginning by the age of nine when he joined 4-H as a junior member.
This was where Craig began his herd.
“I have been fortunate enough to have been raised around Angus cattle my whole life,” said Craig.
His children also love the cattle and have already started their own herds. “I am proud of the bulls and females we raise. I spend many hours researching genetics to complement our program and artificially inseminate a portion of my own herd to some high powered bulls in the industry,” he said.
In 2009, they had topped the Calgary Bull Sale, selling a bull for $25,000. Following up in 2016, Rivercrest was the honoured recipient of the Alberta Angus Hall of Fame “Contemporary Breeder” Award.
“We are consistently striving for genetic improvement which is exciting and a challenge,” said Craig Spady.
“Our breeding program focuses on calving ease and weight gain. We also strive hard to keep the essential traits that make the Angus breed rise to the top, such as eye appeal, fleshing ability, phenotype, maternal traits and structure from the ground up.”
Rivercrest Eston 30A was a great bull Tom raised out of a famous Pride cow (also mother to the “Great Northern” bull born and raised at Rivercrest who was a genetic giant of his time) who he sold in the 70’s to the renowned Eastfield herd in Scotland.
Sons of 30A were also sold to China and the Argentine.
Outside the show ring
Outside of the show ring, the family enjoys helping neighbours with brandings and visiting with their customers while ‘listening to some great afterhour stories’.
Craig and Jody and the family have grown up in 4-H winning many awards.
Since replacing 4-H with rodeo, Cayden, now 21, and Jamie-Lee, now 18, have been enjoying competing in college rodeo and are team roping partners.