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Focused on growth, Carter Family Angus strives for growth, performance in Angus cattle

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Arthur, Neb. – In 1964, Sam Carter’s parents realized he had an affinity for cattle and the cattle business. As a result, they bought him a registered Angus heifer. 

“Carter Family Angus started as a 4-H project,” Carter comments. “I was raised in Indiana on a diversified farming operation where we had cattle and hogs, and at one time, we even had a dairy operation.”

While the dairy farm was dispersed before Carter was old enough to milk cows, he said his favorite part of the family farm was always the commercial cattle herd. 

“I was involved in 4-H and FFA growing up and livestock judging in college,” Carter explains. 

After he graduated, Carter worked off the farm and ranch for many years for American Commodities. 

While gaining experience, Carter was looking for the opportunity to get back into the cattle business.

“Then, a little over 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to start buying land where I grew up near Upland, Ind.,” he says. “My youngest daughter, who was nine years old, showed a lot of interested in livestock, so we started to rebuild our Angus program.”

After several moves, Carter Family Angus settled just east of Arthur, Neb.

Inside the ranch

Carter Family Angus is a 100 percent seedstock operation. They run between 200 and 250 mother cows, which includes the base cowherd and approximately 50 recipient cows used in the embryo transfer program.

“We breed and develop bulls for the commercial cattleman, blending science and technology with cowboy ethics and values,” Carter states.

Looking at their genetics, Carter says they focus on maternal strength with more growth than is common in bulls marketed nearby. 

“We really believe our customers sell their calves by the pound, so they need genetics that will promote calves with higher weaning weights,” Carter says. “We stress weaning weights in our cattle.” 

They also utilize the index values provided by the American Angus Association. In 2018, their sale boasts 12 bulls in the top one percent for the Angus breed in terms of weaned calf value, which is described by the $W index. Additionally, 66 of their bulls fall in the top 20 percent of the Angus breed for $W.

“We believe $W is a extremely important factor for ranchers in the Sandhills or Wyoming because ranchers sell their calves shortly after they are weaned,” he explains.

“Over the last three years, our bulls have averaged more than 15 inches of ribeye in our ultrasound data,” Carter comments. “This year, our bulls have an average ribeye of 14.7 inches.”

Bull sale

The Carter Family Angus bull sale is held on the second Monday in February. 

“This will be our seventh sale on our own,” Carter explains. “In Indiana, we started selling bulls in a partnership with people from North Platte in 1999.” 

He adds, “We have been supplying bulls to the Sandhills, western Nebraska and Wyoming for close to 20 years now.”

The bulls are born in January and February.

“They’re branded in late March or early April and receive a round of vaccinations, and by the middle of May, our pairs go out on summer range,” Carter explains. “By the end of July or first part of August, the bull calves are weaned.” 

The calves are weaned, vaccinated and weighed. The bull calves are developed in an 80-acre grow lot. 

“The bulls are developed based on a high-fiber and very low mega-calorie diet. There is very little corn in our feed,” Carter says.

He continues, “We can still get very good average daily gain – on average about four pounds per day, and our cattle develop the way we want. The key is we feed about 20 percent fiber.”

In addition, the bulls are provided with free-choice grass hay. 

“We feel like our nutrition program plays a big role in the bulls we sell,” Carter adds.


“My mother says my love for cattle is a curse I was born with,” Carter jokes. “I always enjoyed raising cattle through 4-H. Even when I was four and five, when we had bucket calves, I liked being with the calves.”

Carter also enjoys the people in the seedstock business. 

“I had a number of mentors who really guided me in the business quite a bit,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from the seedstock people I have interacted with.” 

The operation continues to be a family ranch, though Carter’s daughters, Lindsey and Ashlyn both live in Indianapolis, Ind.

“My daughter Ashlyn, her husband Andy and my grandson Cole are all very interested in the program we have here,” Carter comments. “Ashlyn grew up showing cattle, and she’s involved in our marketing.” 

Additionally, Mike Pilakowski has been involved in the operation for many years. 

“Mike serves in the role as herdsman, and he does a phenomenal job,” Carter says. “He also has some cows and sells a few bulls in our sale. Mike is an integral part of Carter Family Angus.”

“At its core, this is a family business, and it has been a family business from the very beginning,” Carter emphasizes. “We’re fortunate our cows have adapted to several significant moves in their lives, and we’re proud of the fact they have adapted and continued to perform well over the last 20 years.”

Learn more about Carter Family Angus at

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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