Little Fort Herefords had its beginning in the fall of 1943 when Gung Loy Jim (Loy Jim) purchased three Hereford heifers. This marked the beginning of a decades long quest for beef cattle improvement that now spans four generations of the Jim family, and multiple businesses in agriculture and other fields. While the Hereford cow herd was started in the 1940s, agriculture has been a big part of what the family has done since the early 1900s.
Loy Jim’s grandfather, Jim Young Fat emigrated from China to California in 1868 and initially worked as a labourer during the construction of the California Pacific Railway. In 1910 his son, Kam Kee Jim (Loy’s father), moved to Burnaby, and Jim Young Fat joined him and set up a sawmill business. Jim Fat and Kam Kee Jim moved to Lillooet in 1911 where they built a general store on the main street. They were also involved in a commercial tomato growing operation in Kamloops.
In 1919, the Jims moved to Little Fort in the North Thompson River valley and purchased a hotel that burned down only one year later. In its place Jim Man Lee Store was built. A 10 acre garden, and a dairy were also started to supply the store. In 1920, Gung Loy Jim was born in the back of the new general store. Loy Jim went on to accomplish many things in his life, the most important of which was marrying Mary (Marie) Peleshaty in 1956. Marie’s parents had immigrated to Canada from Romania, and also had a railroading history. Together they ran the family store, ranched, were involved in mining and construction, and operated Taweel Lake Fishing Camp. They had four sons (Kam, Kee, Kym and Kyn).
After registering his first Herefords in 1943, Loy Jim maintained a herd of 25 cows. He initially registered cattle with the prefix “Luckijim”. This prefix was chosen as an indication of the importance of “luck” in Chinese culture. In the 1970s the prefix was changed to “LFH” (Little Fort Herefords) when Loy renamed the ranch. Loy primarily focused on selling bulls to ranchers. Many of the families that he originally sold bulls to still purchase Little Fort Hereford bulls today (some for over 40 years).
Loy Jim started to show cattle in the early 1970s, and won the Reserve Grand Champion Bull at the Provincial Bull Sale in Kamloops in 1973. This was also the first “AI bull” to ever win a championship at a bull sale in British Columbia. In the early 1980s the herd was expanded to around 100 cows, and the family began to focus on promoting the herd by selling bulls at bull sales. This has led to multiple grand champion, reserve champion, group championships, and high sellers over the years at both the Provincial Bull Sale in Kamloops, and the Williams Lake Bull Sale in Williams Lake. The bulls have been successful across a broad range environments in British Columbia and Western Canada. The members of the Jim family pride themselves on their 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee with their bulls, and the productivity of their cow herd.
The Jim family’s philosophy when breeding cattle has evolved over the years. They have always stressed the importance of structure and soundness, longevity, mothering, docility and performance. In more recent times they been trying to strike a balance between performance and calving ease, and have been working hard to improve the udders on our females. They have also been long time believers in EPDs (expected progeny differences) and the value of whole herd reporting, ultrasound, and actual carcass testing. More recently they have been doing “efficiency testing” (RFI) on their entire calf crop (males and females) and working with the Canadian Hereford Association to submit data for creation of the 50K Genotype Panel, and an EPD for RFI.
Loy Jim passed away in 1995. He left Little Fort Herefords with a strong foundation on which to build. Change is constant, and the quest to breed the best possible cattle that balance practical traits while taking advantage of new scientific tools goes on.