Bill Sweet grew up raising cows on his family’s Elk River ranch, near Langlois, Ore., so he jumped at the chance when offered a job in 1937 as tester for the Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
Sweet became a student of the people and the land, learning everything he could from owners of the best herds. When he realized that milk and cream production depended on the quality of the bull and the cow plus proper feed, he improved clover forage and grain mixtures.
One day, his father brought home the most perfect cow he had ever seen. Sweet recognized an opportunity and bred her to a neighbor’s trophy bull. The offspring became one of the top Jersey bulls of all time, named Tristram Lord Basil. By 1960, Sweet’s herd ranked second in the nation and earned the distinction of being the highest milk producer in the world.
When Sweet held an auction to disperse his prize-winning herd, an estimated 600 people attended the barbeque and sale, including buyers from all over the country primed to pay top-dollar for breeding stock.
Sources: Schroeder, Walt. Characters, Legends and Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon. Gold Beach, OR, Curry County Historical Society, 2007, pp. 273-276