Born in 1935, Lawrence Duncan was raised on the family farm in Montgomery County, Indiana, where his parents raised registered Duroc hogs and draft horses. At the age of 10, Lawrence began showing Hereford heifers and steers in 4-H at the county and state fairs. After graduating from high school in 1954, he attended Purdue University, majoring in animal husbandry. He married his wife, Petzi, and they honeymooned at the Fort Worth Stock Show, during his senior year of college. Following graduation from Purdue, the newlyweds moved into his parents’ house and began farming.
In order to buy a place for him and his new bride, Lawrence held his first Hereford sale in 1958. The high-seller went for $1,200. From the beginning, he found the most difficult part of hosting sales came down to organization, particularly organizing help and all of the cattle. Lawrence learned it was necessary to improve the cattle handling equipment and facilities to make it all work. Even after 48 sales, Lawrence was still learning and improving.
Lawrence’s dad, Harvey, always said, “If you’re able to farm, you should pursue it.” While waiting in line for stalls, it occurred to Harvey that nearly everything was done alphabetically. If their name started with an ‘A,’ it would be listed first. The name Able Acres fit both criteria, so their prefix was ‘AA’ from then on. Today, Able Acres consists of 140-150 cows, along with 2,200 acres of row crops and hay. Not only has the farm expanded — so has the Duncan family. Through the years, Lawrence and Petzi welcomed five children: four sons, Lary, Gary, David and Andy; and one daughter, Caril. All five children own Hereford cattle and take pride in their involvement in the industry. There are eight grandchildren who also have connections to Lawrence’s legacy of owning and raising Hereford cattle.
Lawrence credited his longevity in the Hereford industry to two things: quality genetics and quality relationships. The Duncans have continually adopted new technologies through the years, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET). Lawrence was an innovator in the Hereford breed. His peers, Ray Ramsey, Bruce Everhart and Rick Davis, credit his efforts to getting more youth involved and educated in the cattle industry. By providing opportunities to work alongside him and get involved in their program, anyone willing to listen was welcomed by Lawrence. He is remembered for doing it the right way, treating people the right way and setting the standard for others to follow. Able Acres utilizes all the tools available to provide reliable, honest and quality genetics that have been sold to buyers throughout the United States.
Lawrence and his family were early adopters of collecting performance data and have been dedicated supporters of the American Hereford Association’s (AHA) Whole Herd Total Performance Records (TPR.) program. In addition, Able Acres has been performance testing bulls through the Indiana Bull Evaluation Program (IBEP) for many years. The IBEP has provided valuable data and has helped the Lawrence family continually improve their operation through the years.
Lawrence passed in April 2020 and is being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame. Lawrence was a dedicated grain and livestock farmer whose passion was breeding Hereford cattle. His farm, Able Acres, received six Golden Bull Awards from the AHA. Lawrence was selected by his peers to receive the Robert C. Peterson Lynnwood Farm Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. In 2019 Lawrence was inducted into the Indiana Livestock Breeders Hall of Fame.