How many women do you know that would start up a cow-calf operation on their own?
Odds are that most folks in Estherville know at least one – Connie Greig.
As the guest speaker at the Estherville Rotary Club Thursday, Greig told how she took it upon herself to start a cow-calf operation in 1968 with 20 head.
Greig’s husband, John, and his brother, Hugh, were already involved in feeding cattle. But Connie said she thought having a cow-calf operation would be more “fun.”
“I decided if anybody’s going to do it, it’s going to be me,” she said.
Greig bought her first performance-tested cattle in 1968, choosing red herefords and black angus breeds. She paid $250 for cattle 12-13 years old because they were proven breeders. She figured if she got two calves per cow it was a payoff.
In time, she expanded to 180-200 cows and since starting she estimates she’s had 7,000 calves born.
She exceeded her goal of a 100 percent calf crop since the Simmental breed has a propensity for twins. She diligently kept records of both cows and calves and sent records to the Simmental Association in Bozeman, Mont. She still has the records today.
Through time, Greig grew from a limited understanding of cattle birthing to having a thorough knowledge of genetic selection and performance testing. She’s even experimented with embryo transfer.
Greig sees as one future challenge to the industry mandatory identification. While she already does that, she notes strong opposition within the National Cattlemen’s Association to mandatory identification.
In 1993 Greig was honored by the NCA with its Humanitarian Award. The Greig family was also honored with the NCA regional Land Stewardship Award, a distinction given to two other Emmet County families, the Whites and the Guges.
What was perhaps Greig’s greatest claim to fame came when she went on Oprah Winfrey to defend the beef cattle industry with son Joe and daughter-in-law Jodie.
Later that night, they went out to a seafood restaurant. The waitress recognized Greig from her appearance on Oprah.
“Please don’t tell anyone you saw us eating seafood,” Greig pleaded.