Bull Hall of Fame- Ildeno

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
This was written by Knabe. He did a great job with some of his comments & information!

My Vote this week for bull hall of fame is, and to quote, too many
livestock auctioneer's, but not in this case, the immorrrrtal, ILDENO.
Other's hopefully will ad to the following.  Chianina's were one of the
later imorted european breeds due to quarantine space limitations when the
craze for leaner and growthier beef hit the 70's. 

Ildeno was one of these
imported bulls by Tim Ohlde (don't know if that's true).  His Semen
was $30.00 a straw (accuracy?)  When crossed on angus, maine anjou and
amerifax cattle, they sold like hotcakes in the show steer arena for
$2-5000 on up in the 80's.  Calves were sold all over including a sale
every year at Cal Poly where college students with no experience learned
to gentle cattle and gain show experience.  Most of the students who
supervised these projects were excellent show jocks, were on the judging
team that won a lot. 

Ildeno stood out as a sire of show steers.  During
this time, black hair coats finally gained traction as a standard for
carcass quality, so breeders went looking for that next Ildeno, as long as
he was black.  There was an endless play on words indicating black,
as well as %chi to take out some of the growth.  I thought Ildeno was
a somewhat moderate growth bull compared to some of the other chi's
available.  Steer divisions had to be changed to allow for larger animals.
Carload after carload of steers won at Denver. 

Of course there was a few
problems.  Chi's could jump higher than hunter jumpers, some were spooky,
especially the curly haired ones, birth weights were an issue, I pulled a
few over 150 pounds, resulting in a lot of labor expense.  I feel the
attitude issue was a little overblown, i've known a few angus i wouldn't
get near, and i'm sure everyone has their own special noted exceptions.
one time I was feeding a curly haired steer tied to a donkey and he jumped
on me.  All I saw was his belly.  Knocked me out cold, tore my favourite
shirt and bruised my ego.  Many a chi steer jumped over the wash rack.
Ildeno created a buzz in the steer jock game, the likes haven't been seen

A few bulls have come along since with similar success such as
sugar Ray, but none with their original coat of paint.  If you couldn't
pick out an Ildeno butt or head, you didn't have any cred.  A lot of his
steers had a mole on their right cheek, just like a movie star, which most
knew they were.  Alas, it all ended.  Ildeno lived to a ripe old age back
at Ohlde's place after serving for years at stud.  Rank to the last, you
couldn't go in his pen, but he would curl up side the fence and beg you to
scratch the fly scabs. 

I thought it was a strange time in the 80's for
cattle.  There was a big debate about portion size, and how too big a
ribeye was bad because people couldn't eat it anymore.  Chi's to me had a
moderate top line, in spite of showing definition, they were not that big.
Cal Poly had a steer futurity every year where they fed out groups of five
of many breeds.  Chi's were somewhere middle of the road.  I took pictures
for 3 years when the steers came in to the feedlot, 3-5 days before
slaughter and a picture of every ribeye.  They had decent marbling and
seemed to average in the 13-14" range, which didn't translate based on
their weight by formula which indicated something higher in the range of
15 or so. 

All in all, Ildeno was the Tiger of his day, and in my book,
has never been equaled for impact on the show industry, his ability to get
kids to raise their standards giving reasons, fitting, feeding etc.  Many
a competitor who didn't have an Iledno steer could be heard cussing under
their breath.  A true legend.

Picture is of an ildeno steer pic of two city girls amazed you could pet a


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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
More from Knabe:

"gerald callaghan at the LA county fair mussing up my hair, looked at the palm of his hand for anything that rubbed off.  we had painted Wojo grey, and didn't use any spray, unlike most of the other exhibitors.  I was proud to reach for my comb and straigten it back out, looking him in the eye."


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Well-known member
Jan 29, 2007
knabe - real interesting - was this when you were at Cal Poly?

A friend of mine recommended the book "The Ranch - a modern history of the North American cattle industry" by Sherm Ewing - it does a real good job of explaining how things were in the industry "back then" in terms of imports, regulations, the new technique of AI  etc - it is a good read.

I was always under the impression that the Chi's in Italy were big and docile because they were used for draft and lived closely with humans - Harlan Ritchie commented once that one thing that the Chi's in the US did not focus enough on was temperament - ws it the trip to NA? the color black or the fact that just like buying a German Shepherd in Germany you ain't getting the best of the best - or something else - what do you think?


Well-known member
Feb 7, 2007
Hollister, CA
Yes, Cal Poly SLO around 87/88

Jarold callahan (correct spelling), the judge for the show at the LA county fair used to teach at OSU, i think now he is involved with the angus breed.

interesting article about judging and ethics


at poly, an army of students gentled the breeding stock of poly for a showmanship show at the Poly Royal, kind of an exhibition for parents and the community for all departments.  huge.  some projects were taking bulls to the fomosa sale and one at red bluff.  the big one, was the project to gentle the 50-100 steers for the annual sale with animals from various breeders.  in 3 years, i only remeber one steer, who never made it through the sale for temperment reasons, the one that jumped on me.  many other students tried to tame that steer to no avail.  the one black steer in the above photo was a real prick, like a horse with it's ears always pinned.

after a little exposure at ohldes with chi's working there on an internship, i was only scared by one cow.  she got the herdsman pinned to the ground, and i beat her off with a 2x4, and it took a while.  course we were weighing her calf etc. but that *^%$#@ could sure hang.  what probably happened is that there wasn't enough of them around and almost no selection was based on temperament, unlike other cattle, so it got propogated.  i think it was man's fault, not the chi's.  they had that hip look you couldn't resist, they were clean, goosy, trim, nice spacing between their legs, nice bone, of course this is why angus used them to improve the breed for a while.  you could tell the chi blood in angus by the mustache around their muzzle and other ways.  they supposedly even used chi's in charolais, because one line used to throw a birth mark on the flank like clockwork.  probably not true.  did i say that?  when i dug out the pictures above, i looked through some old angus ads, people talk about the no butted angus today, good grief, other than the obvious legends like lovana, there were some pretty no butted, um chi looking angus back then.


Well-known member
Jul 5, 2006
western kansas
I sampled Ildeno in the early 80's. The few calves I got out of red cows went on to win county fairs. They calved allright and had a smooth shape to them. I didn't think the calves were to bad on disposition either. It was amazing that in one cross you had a champion everytime.

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