Neiman Cattle Company: Neimans focus on high-quality bulls, positive relationships in seedstock business
Hulett – In 2013, Ryan and Sonnie Neiman took what they call a leap of faith, purchased the registered cattle from his family’s Neiman 77 Ranch and started his own operation – Neiman Cattle Company, LLC.
Starting as Neiman 77 Ranch and later continuing as Neiman Cattle, they held their first bull sale in 2007 and have continued building their operation as a well-recognized and highly respected operation.
Today, Ryan, his wife Sonnie and daughters Kaycie, 2, and Sutton, 4 months, live and work at the ranch and strive to continue to build their family-focused operation.
Love for cattle
Ryan’s love for cattle started when he was very young.
“When I was nine years old, I started my own herd from a futurity heifer selected by my uncle at the 77 ranch,” he says. “I had those cows through high school and college.”
After college, he continued to pursue a hands-on education by working for Sinclair Cattle Company and Cow Country Genetics.
“I moved home in 2006 and started managing my family’s ranch, the Neiman 77 Ranch,” he says. “In 2004, my family bought some registered Angus from Ohlde Cattle Company in Kansas, and we started selling bulls with the Pannell Ranch. When they sold their ranch, we kept building.”
Sonnie’s passion for the industry was also developed in her youth.
“I was raised north of Hanna in the Elk Mountain area,” she says. “My parents, Casey and Nellie Palm, ran commercial cattle. I grew up working on the ranch.”
When she was in high school, Sonnie’s mother recommended she earn a college degree not related to the ag industry.
“Mom told me I could always come back to the ranch if I wanted to. I’ve always loved the healthcare industry, so I went into athletic training,” Sonnie explains. “After I graduated, I got my first job in Hulett. I said I was going to live in Hulett for one year, and then I met Ryan.”
The couple was married in September 2013, and they run Neiman Cattle Company north of Hulett together.
Working with families
After they were married, Sonnie’s parents moved to Hulett from Hanna.
“When they got here, we decided that, if we were going to work with both families, we needed to have our own operation,” Ryan says. “We needed to be able to be completely open with everyone, so we bought out the Neiman 77 Ranch Angus herd of about 100 cows, and we leased another 150.”
Today, they have grown to a herd of nearly 300 owned and leased cows.
They begin calving in April, and Ryan explains they keep nearly all their heifer calves.
The bulls are sold as two-year-olds and developed on a ration that contains absolutely no starch, Ryan emphasizes.
They strive to produce bulls with moderate birthweight, moderate size and easy fleshing ability.
“On the maternal side, they’ve got to be protective enough to keep their calves alive but gentle enough to handle,” Ryan says. “We like to keep all of our heifers and calve them once to find out how they are going to work out as mothers.”
Everything is weaned in the fall and held over through the winter.
“Then, we decide what we’re going to keep as far as the bulls. The rest are fed out, and carcass data is collected as often as possible,” Ryan says.
Working for the customer
Ryan’s passion for the registered cattle business starts with livestock, but he also enjoys working with the people.
“For me, a lot of the reason why I wanted to be involved in the registered business is for the people,” he says. “I like people and helping to solve their problems.”
He continues, “We’re not selling bulls. Really, we’re servicing cows. I enjoy the problem-solving end of finding a bull that works for the commercial producer.”
Ryan also sees value in looking back at what made producers both registered and commercial successful in the past and using similar strategies.
“Sometimes I think cattle genetics can move forward too quickly. I think it’s easy to forget that what really matters is the cow,” he explains. “The success of our customers is what matters. Our customers need to be solvent by producing cows that breed, raise calves, breed back and do it again with the lowest input cost possible.”
The satisfaction of ownership is also a big part of why the couple has stayed in the cattle business.
“Right now, we’re hopefully building something for our kids,” Ryan says. “We’re going to continue building efficiency and improving our uniformity throughout the cowherd. We’re continuing to build our genetics and we’re going to continue to improve.”
Records and data
To provide the best quality, Ryan says, “We think that collecting relevant data and information is really important.”
This year, they sent a set of bulls to Lingle to the University of Wyoming’s bull test station for forage efficiency testing.
“This is the first year we’ve efficiency tested our bulls,” Ryan says. “We thought it was a good opportunity to see if we can learn something more. We’re not looking for a magic bullet, but we’re looking to find a line of cattle that is superior to the rest and move ahead with those.”
The Neimans have also begun to collect additional data from their bulls at Sonnie’s parent’s ranch.
“Sonnie’s parents have allowed us to test our genetics on their commercial cows, and this is the first set of calves that was 100 percent sired by our bulls,” Ryan says. “We run their cattle as if they were our registered cattle, so we individually identify and take individual weaning weights on everything. Later we hope to extend the data collection to the feed yard and slaughter.”
They will DNA test the calves to determine sire and then use all the information they collect to make sure the cattle provide a profit for the commercial cattle businessman.
Working for the future
As Ryan and Sonnie look out over the next several decades, they see continued development in their future.
“Hopefully in 20 years we’ll own a little bit of land, in addition to the cattle,” Ryan says. “We lease everything now. We don’t need to own a bunch of land, but we’d like to have enough to have a home place.”
He also notes they will continue to work to improve cattle going forward.
“Every year we want to make our cattle a little better, so our customers can put more money in their pockets. That’s what matters,” Ryan says. “I don’t have any grand delusions that we’re going to make the perfect cow. We’re not trying to change the world. We’re here to raise the best cattle we can and raise a family while doing it.”
Visit Neiman Cattle Company online at neimancattle.com for more information. This year, their bull sale will be held on Feb. 15, 2018 in Belle Fourche, S.D.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.