Cherry Knoll Farm is a name synonymous with quality. The Black Angus cattle operation, located just outside of Philadelphia, PA, defies the law of averages. It operates with only 50 head of cattle, yet accumulates winning titles across the nation against contenders who have ten times the number of cattle.
In 1989, Margaret and Bob Duprey moved Cherry Knoll Farm to its current location in West Grove, Pa. At that time, Margaret’s passion was focused on high performance dressage horses; nevertheless, fate has a wonderful way of fulfilling wishes. Margaret’s childhood dream was to own a farm and Brian Fitzgerald joined the team as the Cherry Knoll Farm manager. In 1993, Margaret’s focus expanded to include Angus cattle.
“She always wanted to be like Old MacDonald,” husband, Bob laughed. “Margaret’s passion is evident in everything she does, and with the Black Angus cattle, it is no different.”
Brian, Margaret and Bob began to cultivate the herd and, shortly, Cherry Knoll owned a nationally respected herd that turned heads in the livestock industry. Following a nine-year tenure, Brian passed the baton to his brother, Tim Fitzgerald, who currently curates the prize-winning herd and manages all the cattle breeding and operations of Cherry Knoll Farm.
The Fitzgerald’s roots run deep in the Angus breed. Tim was raised in western Nebraska in an Angus family on a nationally prominent Angus ranch. He came up through the ranks of the renowned National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) program, and holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University where he was a member of the 1989 National Champion intercollegiate livestock judging team. During his career, Tim has judged numerous beef cattle shows of almost every breed at all levels of competition.
Margaret recalled the conversation with Tim that would become the foundation for Cherry Knoll Farm’s cattle operation for the next two decades. “I explained to Tim that we only had this much land which prevented us from accommodating the large herd that he’d been used to while working in West Virginia. We had to keep the herd manageable — so we should focus on quality not quantity. This is how we developed the cattle we have.” Cherry Knoll Farm is operated on that philosophy, and the personal attention to detail is the secret to the great success it enjoys in its breeding Angus cattle that are competitive on the national level.
Cherry Knoll cattle are bred to fit a variety of programs, with a primary focus on high profile genetics, proven cow families, and the elite sires of the breed. Cherry Knoll Farm’s clientele include Angus breeders, National Junior Angus Association (NJAA), 4-H and FFA exhibitors, as well as commercial producers seeking the added benefits of utilizing advanced, contemporary Angus genetics. The Cherry Knoll breeding program strives to exceed the goals of its customers and is recognized for its unique ability to raise cattle appropriate to all of these markets.
The Dupreys are passionate supporters of the NJAA. The Dupreys sponsor various Angus events, as well as sell their cattle to many of the juniors during their annual Fall Sale. “We support the NJAA because the children are the future of the Angus industry, the future of America and the future of the world,” Margaret said. It is the exemplary breeding program that made Cherry Knoll Farm the winning choice for the NJAA Leaders Engaged in Angus Development (LEAD) Conference venue. The LEAD field trip to Cherry Knoll Farm included more than 150 juniors from across the country and Canada.
In addition to touring the farm, the juniors were able to spend time with the Dupreys, Tim and the cattle during the 2014 LEAD Conference, themed Forefathers & Farmers: Cultivating Angus Youth. The participants took careful notes and read the tags of the calves, asking questions and preparing for the October sale.
Tim shared his vast knowledge with the participants. He described the day-to-day operations of Cherry Knoll Farm, their breeding philosophy and strategy, as well as the rising concerns the economy forces breeders to confront. He acknowledged that Cherry Knoll Farm is an exceptional facility and credited the success of the operation to Margaret and Bob’s philosophy, vision and generosity.
“I really wanted to show the kids that you can work for beautiful people, in a beautiful place and give back to the community,” Tim said. “Cherry Knoll Farm is a special place, and we were thrilled to host the NJAA. We have the greatest set of babies ever raised, and it is our philosophy of quality over quantity that has allowed us to succeed. It was important for these kids to understand that bigger isn’t always better. The truth is ‘better is better’. So, you don’t need 3,000 head of cattle to compete against the big guys.”
Tim continued, “I think it was wonderful for the kids to meet Margaret and Bob. Probably some of the kids were surprised about how approachable and real Margaret and Bob are. Margaret is so much more than an owner… she is a supporter, she is a mentor, she is there at the in-gate, and she even helps to breed animals that get this close to perfect.”
The annual event provides an open line of communication for members of different associations to share ideas, exchange plans and establish goals. Each year, the participating juniors collectively choose a highlight location to visit, and Cherry Knoll Farm was at the top of the list for 2014.
“Although we do not have children of our own, Bob and I feel it is vitally important to support younger generations. We know education plays a very important part in the future, and we do what we can to help out as much as possible,” Margaret said.
In 2007, Cherry Knoll Farm clinched the Grand Champion Heifer and Grand Champion Bull during the National Western Stock Show, a nearly impossible feat. Many of the winning heifers and bulls are offspring from the Cherry Knoll stock, including some of the greatest made females to ever enter a show ring, such as Cherry Knoll LSC Rosebud, Cherry Knoll Elsa and Freys Arkpride of Cherry Knoll.
Cherry Knoll Farm is currently a leading force in taking genetic breeding to the next level. Tim explained his breeding methods in determining what pairing will produce the best offspring. “You are never going to have the ‘perfect’ cow, but you can sure get close. When breeding an animal, my main objective is to have that cow produce a better animal than what she is. It’s a game. There is not just one bull out there that will fix everything; it is all trial and error. We try to breed that perfect one, that is what you try to do, and our results show just how close we get.”
Although Cherry Knoll Farm is not set amongst hills with cherry trees, the name encompasses the history of Margaret’s extensive roots in the equestrian industry. The original Cherry Knoll Farm was located in Newtown Square, and rivaled President Madison’s home, Montpelier, where owner Mrs. Jean Liseter Austin duPont’s husband, William, had grown up. The house duplicated everything about Montpelier, down to the woodwork on the interior. Cherry Knoll Farm became well known for their cattle and horses. Much later, Margaret rode at the farm and fell in love with its atmosphere and name.
Mrs. duPont’s sister, Miss Anna A. Austin, allowed Margaret to keep the name when she began her own facility in the West Grove location. Mrs. duPont was a dedicated horsewoman who rode, showed and bred horses for most of her life—she was a fixture at horse shows across the country.
Similar to Mrs. duPont, Margaret’s equestrian interests were nurtured early in life. She was a little girl who fell in love with a pony, and her passion only grew. She owns some of the most competitive high performance Grand Prix dressage and show jumpers in the world. Margaret, herself, trains with International Dressage rider, Todd Flettrich, in pursuit of her dreams of one day competing on an international scale, as both an owner and rider.
Flettrich earned a spot as the alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team only two years after competing at the prestigious World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky. Margaret admitted that she sees much of herself in Flettrich—filled with a competitive and ambitious spirit. Flettrich has ridden Amadeus and Otto at international dressage competitions, going head-to-head with the best in the world.
Margaret’s famous show jumper, Cedric, ridden by Olympic Champion Laura Kraut, qualified for the 2008 Olympics, and helped bring home the Team Gold for the United States of America. Cedric continues to prove himself a superior equine athlete in show rings around the world, capturing four prestigious Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) Grand Prix wins and finishing in the third place for the 2013 GCT Leading Rider Championship. Kraut believes he is one of the “best athletes in the world.” Margaret is also a shareholder in the Stars and Stripes syndicate that owns Andretti S, one of Kraut’s most competitive mounts. He was unveiled in 2014 during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., and will one day fill Cedric’s position as her top international competitor.
Her dedication to the equestrian disciplines extends much farther than dressage and show jumping. Duprey is also a significant proponent of para-dressage, a growing sport in the United States. Paralympian Rebecca Hart and her own Schroeters Romani, owned in conjunction with Cherry Knoll Farm, quickly became an unstoppable partnership since the fall. They led the Grade II para-dressage ranks in the United States, and closed out the para-dressage competition during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 with solid scores and an outstanding freestyle debut, which Margaret was on-site to watch.
Cherry Knoll Farm continues to standout as the best, in every show ring they enter. The team at Cherry Knoll Farm works diligently to provide the best, always striving to be the finest in the world because they focus on ‘quality not quantity’. For more information on Cherry Knoll Farm, please visit www.cherryknollfarminc.com. ▪