Pictured as a five year old in Alfalfa Lawn Farms Larned, Kansas.
Histories of cattle families - like those of men and nations - are filled with the fame of men and women whose judgement altered the course of events and the lives of those who followed.
Though none acted alone, uninfluenced by predecessors and contemporaries, to them go the plaudits of time.
So it is with the Victor Domino family of Polled Herefords. The fact that the Victor Dominos of today enjoy unprecedented popularity and demand results from the efforts of many knowledgeable dedicated cattlemen. Yet the fact that Victor domino himself became a great sire and the head of an influential family, which almost 50 years after his birth can still claim identity and a high degree of genetic "purity" rather than assimilation into the vast gene pool of our rapidly expanding breed, is due largely to the handful of breeders who will be mentioned in the following paragraphs.
Back in April, 1930, H.T. Miller of Danville, California purchased a set of bull from John M. Lewis and Son's Alfalfa Lawn Farms, Larned, Kansas, and returned six months later for more to resell as range bulls on the west coast. Since there weren't enough bull calves left at Alfalfa Lawn in the fall to make up a carload, John M took Mr. Miller to several neighboring herds to buy enough to finish filling the order.
According to Walter M. Lewis then a student in high school, the bulls were bunched at Alfalfa Lawn prior to shipment by rail west. "After coming home from school one evening. I was looking over the calves Mr. Miller had purchased. I told my father there was a calf in the group I wished we had, and he said he was sure Mr. Miller wouldn't mind if we took and replaced with another calf. This we did on Oct 10, 1930."
That is how close Victor Domino came to being just another range bull. For the calf that caught young Walter Lewis' eye that October evening was the MP Domino 1, whose name was subsequently changed to Victor Domino.
He came from Leslie Brannan's herd at Timken, Kansas and was of the MP (Mossy Plato) Domino sire line from which descended such notable families as the King Dominos, the DK Dominos, the Plato Dominos, the Numodes and Trumodes as well as the Victor Dominos. He was the first son of Mossy Plato 26, the great sire Les Brannan acquired in 1929 from Frank Brannan, Rozel, Kansas, and whose son's from daughters of the horned bull Prince Domino 148 ( a son of Prince Domino) put Brannan on the map in short order. His dam was Lady Domino, a daughter of the 148th out of a Donald Red 44 Dam. She was, according to Walter Lewis "an outstanding cow and a heavy milker. "
Calved March 5, 1930, Victor Domino was seven months old when acquired by the Lewises. "In my opinion." says Walter Lewis, "Victor Domino was a much better bull than the Mossy Plato family of cattle he took after his mother's side of the pedigree. That's why his name was changed to Victor Domino.
He weighed 2,100 pounds in the pasture condition and carried no waste fat. He was a very successful sire in our herd. We did have a white problem with him. It came from his mother's side as her sire had white over the loin. He was a thick muscled bull with much heavier bone than most Polled Herefords of his time. His daughters were good milkers.
"We used him most of his lifetime."recalls Lewis. "We recorded 160 bulls and 210 females by him , and that was before A.I. came into use. We sold him Nov. 17, 1941 to T.W. Cloney of Route 5 Sedalia, Missouri.
To describe Victor Domino as "a very successful sire" is rather understating the record. Had he done no more than sire Victor Domino 4, his fame would have been assured, for the 4th counted among his sons the family head Buster Domino as well as the great 1941 National Champion CMR Rollo Domino whose descendants took the industry by storm in the 1940's and "50's and brought unparalleled success to M.P. "Hot" Moore of CMR, Senatobia, Mississippi. CMR Rollo Domino 6, the famed "Sire of Sires" CMR Rollo Domino 12, 1945 National Champion and former world record priced bull CMR Rollo Domino 28, CMR Rollo Domino 40, CMR Rollo Domino 47 and CMR Rollo Domino Jr.
Yet another of Victor Domino's prominent breeding sons was Victor Domino 128 who, like Victor Domino 4, served in Sen. Cameron Morrison's herd at Charlotte, N.C. Through him came the Crail Victor Dominos, a well-known performing line developed by the late Frank O. Sherrill and Mack Patton at Crail Farms, Hendersonville, N.C. Descendants of this pair of half brothers established many good Victor Domino-bred herds on the eastern seaboard during the 1940's and '50s, some of them still in operation.
But perhaps his best known son, the one most responsible for perpetuating the Victor Domino family as we know it today, Victor Domino 126. Bred at Alfalfa Lawn, the 126th was sold as a calf to Maj, J.F. Crutcher of Hennin, Tenn., and was purchased early in 1944 along with the entire Crutcher herd by E.E. "Ed" Moore of Double E Ranch Senatobia, MS.
Though he died suddenly in the fall of 1945, the 126th's short service at Double E under manager Earl Purdy established him as one of the all-time greats, for his sons included the famed "Popeye" bull EER Victor Domino 12 (Sire of two National Champion females, the winning get groups at three National shows, a $14,000 former world record priced female, plus numerous show winners and sale toppers. The 126th also sired EER Victor Domino 22, Victor Domino return (from which came the Gatesford Victor Dominos) and 1943 National Champion Heifer D Victoria Domino 8.
L.J. "Dinty" Moore journeyed to Double E in 1945 and selected the 126th calf EER Victor Domino 2 to use in his new Holly Springs Farm herd at Covington, GA., where he subsequently established Holly Springs as a fountainhead for Victor Domino blood in the southeast. Among his sons were HSF Beau Victor 10, top sale bull in Denver purchased by W.M. Spidel and Son, Roundup, MT., and great-grandsire of Gold Trophy JS Spidel 260; HSF Beau Victor 9, whose blood is still strong in the Holly Springs herd; and HSF Beau Victor 15.
It was through his son HSF Beau Victor 14 that EER Victor Domino 2 made his most potent contribution to the family. Not only did the 14th sire one of the first U.S. Polled Hereford bulls exported to South America (Uruguay), he counted among his offspring the redoubtable Gary Hills Victor , who made a fine record at Gay Hills Ranch, Horn Lake, MS; HSF Prince Victor 14 foundation sire of W.L. Teeter's Will-Via Hereford Farm herd at Mooresville, N.C.; and HSF Prince Victor 11, one of the rocks upon which was built the greatest Victor Domino breeding program in history.
HSF Prince Victor 11, out of a straight Victor Domino-bred Dam, was purchased from Holly Springs on May 10, 1952, by R.W. (Walter) and Jean Sage Jones of RWJ Practical Polled Hereford Farm, Leslie, GA. Mr. and Mrs. Jones - who in 1944 had started their herd at Millstone River Farm in Somerset County, N.J., and had moved to Georgia in 1951. Used him on daughters of their first herd sire, HCF Real Domino 82, a bull purchased from Hop Creek Farm in 1946. (The 82nd, by the Alfalfa Lawn bred real Domino 5, traced to Victor Domino through his son Victor Domino 99. He was a large bull for his time, weighing 1,850 pounds when sold for beef at the end of his service life.) From these matings came a tremendous set of producing females as well as the Jones foundation sires MRF Vic Domino A14 and RWJ Pr Victor F97.
Fortunately, MRF Vic Domino A14 served in the right herd at the right time, for he was described as a genetic freak by Dr. W.C. McCormick of the Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, FA., weighing 2,305 pounds in pasture flesh compared to his sire's 1,600 pounds. And without fail he transmitted size and growthiness to his offspring, earning recognition by Performance Registry International as one of the few 5-Star Performance Sires among all breeds. Had the Joneses not believed so strongly in profitable performance for their commercial customers, A14 might not have achieved his potential, for he and his descendants were years ahead of their time in the purebred industry.
Firm believers in performance records, Mr. and Mrs. Jones enrolled their herd on the Georgia Beef Cattle Improvement Association program when it was initiated in 1956. They were among the first to performance test bulls (starting in 1958) at the Tifton Beef Bull Evaluation Center, always bringing home their top performer to use in the herd. They also were early participants in Performance Registry International. When the American Polled Hereford Association launched its Guide Lines Program in 1965, they integrated their extensive records into this central system.
Following their last major outside purchase, a group of heifers from Adams Hereford Center in 1955, the Joneses closed their herd to outside blood in 1962 and set their sights on developing a linebred Victor Domino herd that, based on official performance records, would produce animals profitable for commercial cattlemen. As Mrs. Jones said a few years following her husband's death in 1967. :We were not seeking extremes, but rather more better ones."
And those they got, as the following summary of Georgia BCIA weaning weights shows:
To review all of the performance records established by cattle from this herd would take volumes, for at test stations across the land, they set high performance marks with such regularity that they became the standard by which others were measured. In 1966, it was the Hones-bred bull RWJ Victor F18 K47 that sired the John Finch Victor K47 K1 that set al all-breeds record of 4.5 pounds ADG on official 140 day central station test. Then in 1972, 24 Jones bulls on adjusted 365 day weight of 1,174 pounds - highest ever recorded on APHA's Guide Lines Program. One bull in that group scored an impressive 1,429 pounds. second high officially recorded yearling weight in the breed's history. The following year, another group of Jones bulls broke the record, 24 of them averaging 1,190 pounds. An on and on....
Impressive as they were few Pure bred breeders took serious not of the performance records being made by the Jones cattle until the early 1970's, when the entire industry was awakened by competition from the large exotic breeds and the commercial cattlemen's demands for profitable performing cattle. The RWJ Victor Dominos then became the fountain of performance for the Polled Hereford breed not only in the US but abroad, and breeders from around the world flocked to the herd continued after R.W. Jones' death by his widow and son Vicktor. On APHA's most recently published Superior Sire Program lists ( May and July 1977), the first Gold Performance Sire is an RWJ Victor Domino as are two of the five Gold Standard Sires, 10 of the 28, Gold Seal Sires, 12 of the 56 Gold Trophy Sires and 12 of the 47 Gold Trophy Dams- ample testimony to their wide-spread acceptance and popularity today. ( All of the aforementioned bulls and females are second, third or fourth generation descendants of MRF Vic Domino A14, most of them through his son, RWJ Vic Domino F18.)
Among the handful of early recognize the Jones cattle's potential value to the purebred industry was Colorado Hereford breeder Jack A. Oleson, Avon, who in September, 1965, made headlines with the purchase of 130 cows (43of herd sire prospects and the great RWJ Vic Domino F18. The largest shipment of registered cattle ever to leave Georgia for the western range country, the largest single purchase ever made from the Jones herd, it was a portentous start for Oleson's new registered Polled Hereford operation.
Other's making large purchases of Jones cattle following Olesn's lead were Robert F. Crane of Rock Hollow Farm, Alachua, Florida, who in 1967 acquired 99 cows, 74 calves and several bulls; Pat Wilson of Frostproof, Florida who bought 50 cows in 1971; and Jacker Farmer of Antonio Mountain Ranches Petaluma, California, who in 1973 purchased 90 cows. And R.W. Jones' son Vicktor, who joined the family operation in 1960, retained one-third of the herd when the remainder of the cattle were dispersed in 1975 following his step-mother's death. At Oleson Ranches, another dimension was added to the family's growing appeal-show ring excellence, Though they'd won acclaim from coast to coast during the 1930s and '40s the short coupled compact cattle that became popular during the late '40s had virtually driven them from the tanbark, and no Victor Dominos of consequences had captured wide public acclaim for more than two decades until the Oleson cattle began appearing in major competition.
Within the decade following establishment of the herd, Oleson-bred Victor Dominos laid claim to four consecutive Denver carload championships (1971, '72,'73,'74); and Victorious K47 U81 became grand Champion of the 50th Anniversary National Show, subsequently siring the 1974 Reserve National Grand Champion Vindicator and becoming one of the breed's first Gold Standard Sires. The U81 bull was sired by RWJ Victor F18 K47, one of the two most influential sons of RWJ Vic Domino F18 and herd header at Oleson Ranches until his death in 1975.
Other breeders wasted no time following suit, and almost overnight Victor Dominos became the hottest commodity on the tanbark. A carload of mostly Victor Domino-bred bulls from Antonio Mountain Ranches, Pealuma, CA., topped the 1975 Denver carlaod show. Mis Finch Victra N42, by the Oleson-bred Gold Trophy Sire OR Mesa 337 N53, won grand champion female honors at the 51st National for Glen and Lilian Allen, HIllsboro, TX, and John S. Finch, Corsicana, TX. EDR Victoria J3 448, by RWJ Victor F18 J3 (who with K47 ranks as the most influential of the F18 sons) topped the 53rd National for Briar Creek Farms, Gibson City, ILL., The 50th, 52nd and 53rd National Reserve Grand Champion bulls were Victor Dominos.
Even in South America the family proved its mettle in the strongest competition for the Oleson-bred K47 son or Victor K47 R388 was named all-breeds Supreme Champion of Brazil's largest livestock show in 1974 within months after his importation by Carlos Antonio Brenner of Cabanha Vacacai, Sao Gabriel, Brazil, And the following year, R388's first calves won three of the four titles as well as supreme championship at the same show, establishing him as one of the most popular sires in that country.
Though space limitations preclude mention of all who contributed to the Victor Domino heritage, the industry owes a deep debt of gratitude to all. For they preserved and improved a blood-line that today is adding immeasurably to the value of the Polled Hereford breed.
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