Growing and blossoming, Arrow Crown Angus is centered around quality and family
Morrill, Neb. – For the last 25 years, Bryan Rice and his family have carried on the process of buying light calves and turning them into robust yearlings at Arrow Crown Angus.
“Basically, we buy the light calves people don’t intend to raise and put them in our grow yard until they’re yearlings,” states Rice.
Growing up, Rice was raised on Rice Livestock, which his parents Galen and Bonnie started in the 1950s.
“My dad was born in 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. When he was 12, he started raising rabbits and selling them in Cheyenne to make a little money,” Rice recalls.
“As a teenager and into his early 20s, my dad trained horses,” he says. “When he was 19, my dad lost his father while training for the Korean War, so he was honorably discharged from the Army.”
Rice continues, “By his mid-20s, he leased a ranch and started buying light calves and feeding them, like we do today.”
After high school, Rice went to the University of Wyoming and earned a degree in accounting and then worked as a certified public accountant, among other jobs, until 1990, when he and his wife Donna went back to work for Rice Livestock.
“I worked for my dad for three more years until 1993, when Donna and I started our own cattle feeding business, Arrow Crown Cattle Company,” Rice explains.
“By 1997, my dad retired and split the Rice Livestock land between his three children – Larry, Sherri and I,” Rice says. “Essentially, we lease the land from my parents and use it in for Arrow Crown Angus.”
In 2008, after buying a few registered Angus cows, Arrow Crown Cattle Company started their registered Angus operation, Arrow Crown Angus.
Currently, Arrow Crown Angus employs three full-time employees, including Rice’s daughter Laura Green and her husband Aaron Green.
Arrow Crown Angus has been in the feeder cattle business since Bryan and Donna Rice started the ranch, but about 10 years ago, the family decided to get started in the registered Angus business, as well.
“We started the registered Angus herd by buying 43 registered cows from a dispersal from Snake Creek Ranch. Three years later, we purchased an additional 50 registered cows from the Flag Ranch dispersal,” he says.
Since then, their registered Angus herd has grown to 200 registered cows, Rice mentions.
“Basically, Arrow Crown Angus works at opposite ends of the cattle industry. On one hand, we take light calves that are of good quality but need special attention, and we grow them into yearlings. Then, we also have what we believe to be some of the best Angus cattle and breed the cows to the best bulls available to produce cutting edge genetics,” Rice states.
To help manage the Angus herd and feeder cattle, Border Collies are used daily, along with four-wheelers, motorcycles and horses, according to Rice.
“At any given time, we have roughly 1,500 feeder cattle and 200 registered Angus cows to manage,” he mentions, noting 300 to 600 of the feeder cattle are on full feed in a partnership with another good friend and cattle feeder.
“Arrow Crown Angus is blessed with the opportunity to sell cattle year-round instead of once or twice a year, like many family-sized operations,” Rice states. “Cattle markets can be volatile, and selling only occasionally can put producers in a bad spot if the market turns against them.”
The ranch also owns 300 acres of irrigated corn where the feeder calves and registered cowherd graze during the winter.
Arrow Crown Angus sells their registered Angus bulls in February by private treaty, with an online sale for the top 25 bulls scheduled for the second Monday of February each year. The bulls are usually delivered in late March or early April, according to Rice.
Agriculture has its own set of challenges and is not a friendly environment for small businesses, notes Rice.
“Whether a producer makes a good living or not depends as much on a good business plan as it does on hard work,” he explains.
Taxation and weather are other issues producers in western Nebraska face, says Rice.
“Nebraska struggles with funding for the government and schools, so small business owners end up paying more taxes. We’re six miles from the Wyoming border and definitely pay more taxes than our neighbors in Wyoming,” states Rice.
Despite the many challenges, Rice says one of the main goals for Arrow Crown Angus is to provide beneficial bulls for their customers.
“With the Angus herd, if our cattle don’t compliment our customers’ herds and the bulls aren’t a benefit, then I am done,” he states.
Rice notes he enjoys agriculture and feels like his ranch is a place where he can serve God and his customers well.
When the time for retirement comes, Rice says, “Nothing would delight me more than to continue producing 70 to 80 bulls a year that do great for our customers.”
Through the good and bad times, Arrow Crown Angus is centered on family.
“We have always tried to keep our faith in God and our commitment to family central to our business because this is a family operation,” Rice states.
Bryan and Donna have four children, Kyle and his wife Jessica, Katie, Laura Green and her husband Aaron, and Nathan and his wife Payton. Laura and Aaron have two sons, Aidon and Landon, and Nathan has one son, Brayden.
“Now that we have grandchildren, we have a fresh perspective on the future. Our hope is to have the honor of passing our business and operation on to them,” says Rice.
He also believes finding ways to enjoy the day-to-day occurrences on the ranch with family is important.
“I have always been in agriculture. My family has always been involved in agriculture,” Rice adds. “Honestly, our future plans revolve around creatively finding ways to enjoy the agricultural way of life with our family and others.”
Visit the Arrow Crown Angus website at acangus.com for more information.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.