High-quality Herefords, Strangles strive to produce for many years
Hemingford, Neb. – Thirty miles north of Scottsbluff, Neb. on the rangeland, Ken and Linda Stangle have called Kenneth Stangle Herefords home for close to 22 years.
“We bought our first acreage in 1996. Every couple years, land close by became available, and we were able to expand,” states Ken Stangle, owner of Kenneth Stangle Herefords.
Before buying their own place, Ken and Linda worked for another operation close by called the Watson Ranch.
“For 25 years, we worked at the Watson Ranch,” adds Ken. “The place we own now is great because it was close enough we could work at the Watson Ranch and have our own place.”
Ken has always had Hereford cattle since he was young, according to Linda.
“Ken’s parents, Tom and Joyce Stangle, had Hereford cattle, so he’s always been around and had Herefords,” she says. “We have been married for over 30 years and have always had cattle but worked for other ranches.”
While working for Watson Ranch, Stangle managed his own herd of registered Hereford cattle and sold a few bulls, too.
Today, only Ken and Linda are involved in the operation, but they hope their four children, Jason Stangle, April Young, Jodi Peterson and Casey Stangle, will come back and be involved.
Most of the cattle on Kenneth Stangle Herefords are registered purebred horned Herefords, but five years ago, the Stangles decided to stop registering their cattle.
“A lot of the cows are registered, purebred Herefords,” Linda states. “We stopped registering the cattle because we don’t agree with some of the changes made in the Hereford registration process.”
Their herd consists of 250 to 275 cattle, comprised of 25 bulls, with the rest being cows and replacement heifers.
Calving season starts in February on the Stangle’s operation and hopefully ends by the middle of March, according to Ken.
“After calving season, we have our bull sale and try to get all the calves branded, as well,” he adds.
“At the annual bull sale in the spring, around 25 Hereford bulls and half of the heifer calves are sold,” says Linda, adding steer calves are sold on a video auction for delivery in the fall.
By the time the middle of May rolls around, the cattle are moved to the summer pasture to graze.
“I have a job during the summer to make a little extra income, which works well because the cattle are out to pasture. Plus, it’s not really feasible to have a job during the winter,” Linda mentions.
Stangle states they also have 150 acres of leased and owned farmland where pivot-irrigated alfalfa is grown for the cattle.
“We start putting up the alfalfa hay in the middle of June, and haying season usually goes until the beginning of September,” he adds.
The cows are brought back from the summer pasture in September, and calves are preconditioned at that time, as well.
“At the start of October, the steer calves are sold right off the cow. Then, we wean the heifer calves by the end of October,” Ken states.
According to Stangle, nothing major has changed in their operation over the last 20 years.
“When the kids were young, we had the registered Herefords and would go to a lot of livestock shows in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska,” adds Linda. “Now, it’s easier with just Ken and I to have the bull sale and not got all the livestock shows.”
Ken mentions there have also been many challenges over the years for their operation.
“Our main challenge is finding ground to lease or rent. Trying to find ground for lease is hard, and the price is usually awfully expensive,” he explains, adding all the bigger operations have bought out smaller places.
“A small operator can’t compete with the bigger operations, which tend to have more capital than most ranches do,” he states.
Linda adds, “The land prices have gotten out of hand. It would be nice to see younger couples in this area, but there are only big operations. Smaller ranches just aren’t available for anyone to get started.”
Weather is also a challenge in western Nebraska, according to Ken.
“Whether it’s a good or bad year, the weather always seems to be a challenge,” he explains.
Another hurdle is the cattle prices in the cow/calf market, notes Ken, who says smaller operations are on the bottom of the totem pole, so they don’t have any input on the prices.
Both Ken and Linda hope to keep their ranch for many generations to come and to keep producing high-quality Hereford cattle.
“We want to produce high-quality Herefords and bulls that will work well for commercial cattlemen. Most of our customers have black cattle and want the high-quality baldy calves they can get from our Hereford bulls,” states Linda.
“In the future, we just want to raise our Hereford cattle. Hopefully, one of our kids comes back and tries to expand,” adds Ken.
The privacy and land quality are major benefits found in western Nebraska, he continues.
“The privacy is great, and the dry climate is a good place to raise cattle. Plus, the grass in the area pretty good, too,” says Ken. “It’s amazing how fast the grass can recover, even during a drought year.”
Raising Herefords and being in the agriculture industry are ways of life the Stangles are happy to be a part of because they were born and raised in the business.
“I didn’t want to do anything else growing up. Agriculture in my blood, and that’s is why I enjoy ranching so much,” notes Ken.
“We like being outside and having the satisfaction of raising high-quality cattle,” Linda concludes.
For more information, visit kennethstangleherefords.com.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.