The bitter temperatures broke and the day dawned clear for the 22nd Annual Ranch Tour held on Saturday, January 21. Just over 170 people toured the four diverse family ranches and one Thedford business. The first tour host was the Dailey Angus Ranch, where tour participants assembled in the garage before learning about the Dailey’s operation and inspecting their facilities.
Lemoyne and Rhonda Dailey have a Registered Angus cow-calf and seedstock operation along with a commercial Angus cow-calf herd. They calve in May and June. Bulls are sold as coming 2-year-olds at a production sale held each January. Daileys are currently using seedstock bulls from Diamond D Angus in Valier, Montana and WYE Angus in Queenstown, Maryland.
Pastures are rotationally grazed with larger herds of cattle moved frequently. Calves are weaned on grass in the pasture and remain on grass in the pasture through the first winter with a protein supplement. The cows receive no hay, although the weaned calves will get some if the grass is snowed under. The hills on the ranch are rough and offer winter protection for livestock. Dailey Angus Ranch has no hay ground and puts up no hay. All of the 80-100 bales fed each year are purchased.
Lemoyne and Rhonda purchased the ranch near Thedford in 2006 and moved from Brown County at that time. They still own land in Brown County.
Rhonda is a registered nurse who works in Ainsworth and Mullen. Son Matthew (8), keeps them busy with school activities and sports. They like to camp and fish when they make time. Son Kaman Dailey, and his wife, Klara, live in Stapleton, and he helps out on the ranch when needed. Jeremiah Dailey and wife, Crystal, live in Johnstown. Daughter Emily and her husband, Jim Stacy, are in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Son Seth lives in Ainsworth and son Andrew is in Tryon.
The tour moved a short distance down the road to the second stop: Flying A Cattle Company. The Flying A operation has been in the Anderson family for four generations. It is currently overseen by Gerald Anderson and Ann Bennett. Locations include the Flying A Cattle Company ranch at Thedford and the Dumb Bell Ranch at Hyannis, Nebraska, along with a farm and feedlot in Red Oak, Iowa.
Flying A Cattle Company is a cow-calf-yearling to feedlot enterprise. Cows are bred exclusively to Angus bulls. A rotational grazing system with three or four pastures is used.
Ranch employees are Curt and Linda Brown, Jess and Lesley Houbek and Kurt and Peg Fosdick. Gordon Anderson lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and is not involved in the day-to-day ranch operations.
Those who came to the ranch tour got a behind the scenes look at how cattle handling equipment is manufactured when the tour visited Pearson’s Livestock Equipment Company. Bud Pearson built his first automatic headgate in 1962 and then began Pearson’s Inc., in 1963 on his ranch south of Thedford. Bud built the first part of the factory in Thedford in 1967. The company made the first straight sided squeeze chute in 1973 and the first straight sided adjustable alley in 1983. Jack Johnston went to work for Bud in January 1971. Jack and his wife, Gail, purchased the business in 1990. The overseas markets have been developed since that time. Pearson’s Livestock Equipment Company does business in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Russia, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy. Pearson’s employs sixteen full time employees and three part time.
Having grown up on a ranch, Jack’s interest is in livestock, specifically livestock handling. His main interest is in designing improved livestock handling equipment, including a full line of bison handling equipment. Jack and Gail have six children: Jennifer, David, Teresa, Darrel, Mary and Patrick.
Lunch was served in the newly constructed sale facility at the Hoffman Ranch. The Hoffman Ranch has been in the purebred Hereford business for over 50 years. They relocated to the Nebraska Sandhills in the fall of 2008. They have sold purebred cattle nationally and internationally, but the main focus is selling commercial range bulls primarily to the Sandhills. Hoffmans calve in the spring and fall with 80% of the cows calving in the spring. They market over 100 bulls annually. In 2012 they will put 40 bulls in the Rishel Angus sale in late March and the rest will be sold private treaty. Hoffmans do guarantee their bulls. Their interests are focused on producing structurally sound, easy fleshing cattle with excellent udders. Their bulls are stout, rugged and sound. Their annual female sale is the last Sunday in September and Hoffmans will begin holding an annual bull sale at the ranch in 2013.
The tour wrapped up at the Reed Hamilton Ranch. Dave and Loretta Hamilton are the fourth generation to live on the ranch, which was homesteaded in 1898. It is a cow-calf operation with some yearlings grazed and occasionally some yearlings finished. The breeding program consists of Angus–Simmental Hybrids. Half-blood bulls are used on half-blood cows. The grazing program utilizes a ten pasture rotation during the growing season with a seven pasture rotation during the dormant season. There are 300 pivot acres on the Reed Hamilton Ranch. Two hundred are leased to a corn grower and 100 are put in alfalfa production.
Dave and Loretta have also managed Antelope Valley Outfitters LLC, for the past nine years. They accommodate deer hunting for bow hunters, muzzle loaders and rifle hunters. Dave is a member of the Sandhills Cattle Association and the Society for Range Management, and a past member of the Nebraska Beef Council and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. He is active in the Nebraska Cattlemen and NCBA. Loretta is the chairman of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Research & Education Foundation and vice-chairman of the Thedford Area Service Club & Community Development. They are active in St. Thomas Catholic Church in Thedford.
The tour was made possible by the generous donations of these sponsors: Security 1st Bank of Thedford, Valentine and Cody; Cow Country Sales & Service, Hyannis; Emerson Equipment, Whitman; Farm Credit Services of America; Great Western Bank of North Platte; Harsh Mercantile, Purdum; Hodges Conoco, Thedford; Roadside Inn, Thedford; Sandhill Oil, Thedford; and Vitalix, Inc. We appreciate the support of these sponsors and the hospitality of the tour hosts.