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Joe is a third-generation Angus breeder raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The Epperlys’ Angus herd, ADR Cattle Co. LLC, still occupies the same ground. He spent most of his youth exhibiting livestock, helping on the family farm and working at the family’s livestock market.
Growing up, he was active in 4-H and FFA, along with state and national Angus organizations. He was president of his 4-H club and FFA chapter and served as vice president of Virginia FFA. Joe spent many years on the board of the Virginia Junior Angus Association, and held the offices of treasurer, vice president and president before joining the National Junior Angus Board (NJAB).
He attended Virginia Tech with the intention of becoming a civil engineer. Three years and an internship later, he followed his heart back to animal science, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. While at Virginia Tech, Joe worked as a herdsman at the research farm for Bill Beal. He served as a teaching assistant and was on the judging team. Following college, Joe moved north to Murcielago Farms in Scottsville, Va., to work as a herdsman. During this time, he was approached by Bob Hough at the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) and offered its commercial marketing director position. It was a decision that would change the course of his life. Joe moved to their headquarters in Denver, but his position soon evolved into more responsibilities.
Joe quickly worked his way up to assistant executive director. This position afforded him the opportunity to monitor day-to-day performance inquiries and travel to speak on both commercial marketing and performance measures. He gained oversight to member services, association activities and performance programs. Joe also served as interim activities director and advisor to the junior board.
Among his many accomplishments in this position, Joe was instrumental in moving to SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) parentage, launching blended genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (EPDs), handling DNA in-house, changing registry systems, and moving to single-step genomic evaluation.
While at NALF, Joe served on the advisory board for the USDA Project for the Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle, the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Board of Directors, and the International Limousin Council Executive Board. He spoke to groups in more than 30 states and four foreign countries during his time there.
In fall of 2017 Joe accepted the position as director of genetics and sales at Wagonhammer Ranches in Albion, Neb. Wagonhammer is a 100-year-old operation in the Nebraska Sandhills owned by the Wolf family. Joe oversees and implements the genetic selection for the three ranches encompassing 1,000 registered and 1,600 commercial cows. He also works with the team at their 5,000-head feedlot, where they feed their own and customer cattle for programs such as CAB.
Wagonhammer markets around 250 bulls annually through their production sale in March and through private-treaty sales. The operation uses AI extensively in both its registered and commercial programs. Joe has expanded the ET and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, implanting more than 200 embryos annually.
Wagonhammer sells commercial and registered bred heifers annually through private-treaty sales, along with a select group of show heifer prospects and registered cows in their November female sale. They are involved as a seedstock partner in both Top Dollar Angus and Superior Progressive Genetics working for their commercial customers.
Joe continues to serve on multiple boards, including the Boone County 4-H Council, Nebraska Angus Association (NAA) and BIF. He says he would be honored to serve the Angus membership, and would appreciate your support.