Herbst receives Ag Citizen of the Year Award
By Virginia Wakefield
1999 Wyoming State Fair Edition
Lois Herbst is one of two recipients of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup’s 1999 Wyoming Ag Citizen of the Year award. Herbst and her son, Frank, co-manage the Herbst Lazy TY Cattle Company near Shoshoni. Lois is an outspoken advocate for agriculture and ranching. For a number of years, Herbst has divided her time between working on the ranch and focusing on western land management issues.
Lois says her interest in ag advocacy was piqued when Bob Budd, who was at that time Executive Vice President of Wyoming Stock Growers Association, held a meeting in Fremont County to discuss the Yellowstone Vision document and how to address the impact to agriculture. She has been speaking to groups and attending forums, meeting and conferences ever since.
Lois and Frank began managing the family ranch in 1990 after Lois’ husband, Bill Herbst, passed away from leukemia. In 1996, the Herbst Lazy TY Cattle Company was selected as WBCIA Commercial Producer of the Year. The ranch raises black baldly cattle, combining scientific practices of innovative herd genetic improvement with common-sense, conservative management that has enabled the ranch to grow and thrive for ninety years.
The Lazy TY Ranch was stared in 1906 when Frank Herbst filed to draw a homestead when a portion of the Wind River Indian Reservation was opened for settlement. Frank was born in Ebental, Austria, now a part of Slovenia. In 1916, he married Maria Melz of Gottschee, Austria, who had immigrated to New York in 1912. This hard-working couple raised three children on a n island ranch on the Wind River near Shoshoni, Wyoming. William (Bill) Herbst, their only son, ranched with his father until 1948, when Frank died of tick fever. That was the same year the river lands were condemned for Boysen Reservoir. Bill started establishing a new land base for continuing the ranch.
Lois grew up on a farm in Ohio. While working and attending night school at the University of Denver, she visited her sister, Mary Fender, in Shoshoni, where she met Bill Herbst. Lois and Bill were married in 1958.
Their twin daughters, Daren and Linda, were born in 1959. In 1962, the year their son Frank was born, the family moved to an irrigated farm ten miles west of Shoshoni. The years passed quickly as Lois assumed the duties of a ranch wife. She said, “I kept plenty busy, feeding cows and chasing kids.”
Lois familiarized herself with all the cattle and gradually assumed the ranch’s record-keeping duties, computerizing the accounting records in 1988 and later, the cattle records. The biggest change in the ranch’s management occurred in 1971 when they started using Black Angus bulls on the Hereford cows. Sever years later brought another change: “Bad winter conditions necessitated our placing the herd in local feed yards for maintenance feeding. It brought the advantage of better facilities for handling the cattle, so we could enlarge the vaccination program and gain better nutrition. Both factors improved conception and weaning weights.”
The ranch raises its own replacement heifers and age-brands the cows. The ranch has adopted major innovation within the past decade, including a computerized health program, pregnancy testing, cow tagging and use of EPD’s to select herd bulls. Lois said, “We follow the Cargill Beef Works program, but we are not in an alliance. We also meet the Beef Quality Assurance requirements for certification.”
This past January, Monfort purchased 420 head of calves and shared the feeding and carcass data with the ranch under a program involving the ranch’s providing information on the health records and sires used to produce the calves.
“We can determine from this information that we are achieving the goals of producing calves that are healthy and grade a t a premium. We primarily use three seedstock producers at this time. My favorite reading material is the Angus Sire Summary. Now we can type parameters for bull selection into a program and bring up all sires meeting the EPDs of our program. We buy bulls from herd we know have the maternal qualities we want to maintain – calving ease, good mothering ability and good disposition.”
Herbst credits the dedication of her family in maintaining the ranch. She said, “The good management, as well as the understanding, of my son, frank, and his wife, Jean, enables me to get away to attend meetings. My daughters, Karen and Linda, worked hard here until they graduated from college and moved on. They are proud of their Wyoming ranching heritage. My grandchildren, Emma and Bill, are the job of my life, as well as my inspiration to continue working for their futures.”
E-mail enables Herbst to share the issues so important to her with family and friends throughout the Unites State and the world. She maintains a strong interest in the history of Wyoming.
“Last year, I shared my knowledge of Wyoming history with three students who were being home-schooled. I am in the process of developing better-structured programs to share with groups. During the past twenty years of interviewing pioneers, being involved in photography, and of collecting materials from many sources, I have gained a wealth of knowledge. With history, the more you share, the more you have returned to you.”
This philosophy also applies to her involvement in a variety of industry-related activities. She emphasized, “All our agricultural organizations have a goal of achieving greater cooperation and unity on issues.” Herbst is active in the following:
– Wyoming Stock Growers Association (Region 5 Second Vice President);
– Wyoming Beef Council (reappointed for a second term by Governor Geringer);
– Wyoming State Grazing Board, Lander District (re-elected to a second term);
– National Cattlemen’s Association (member since 1992, serves on the Live Animal Marketing Committee and Information Committee);
– Wyoming Wool Growers;
– Wyoming Cattlemen.
Regarding her immersion in agricultural issues, she stated, “I keep saying it takes ‘passion’ for the job. Many can be hired, but only those with the passion for the life we know will work for our issues.” Through her own passionate advocacy of agriculture and her practice of sound and innovative ranch management, Lois Herbst continually strives toward her goal of maintaining the ranch and its way of life for her grandchildren and future generations.