The right bull for every customer, Broken Arrow Angus highlights satisfaction in raising Angus bulls
Harrison, Neb. – Travis Krein was only 13 years old when he started his registered cattle herd.
“I won a record book award for a breeding beef project through 4-H, and the prize was a loan to buy breeding cattle,” he says, noting he took advantage of the opportunity and started his own cowherd.
At the same time, he purchased the broken arrow brand from an old rancher who was leaving the business, and Broken Arrow Angus was born.
By the age of 15, Krein was selling bulls. Today, Krein, his wife Katie and daughters Bethany, Rachel, Hannah, Sarah and Leah are all actively involved in raising 800 registered cows and 200 bulls, which are sold in a private treaty sale annually.
Broken Arrow Angus focuses on producing bulls that meet their customers’ needs.
“We focus on genetics and are looking to raise high performance bulls that aren’t pampered,” Krein says. “On the maternal side, our cows work for a living and thrive on the hard grass rangeland we have in western Nebraska.”
The ranch headquarters is south of Harrison, Neb., and cattle range in the surrounding country, where Krein says, “We have great grass but tough winters.”
The cattle are supplemented with as little hay as possible, though harsh winters and snow sometimes necessitates minimal feeding during cold months.
When they bring the bulls into the feedlot less than a mile south of Harrison to be developed, Krein says they aim for a final product that is deep, wide and heavy muscled.
“Our two-year-old bulls are developed on grass until late October, and then they are brought into big, rocky lots and started on a ration of beet pulp, ground hay, dried distillers’ grain and cracked corn,” Krein explains. “They are fed to grow frame and not get fat.”
The yearlings bulls are fed with the same ingredients, and all rations were developed through consultation with Great Plains Nutrition.
“We want to achieve as much growth as we can without sacrificing fertility,” he explains.
To accomplish their goals, Krein also notes the customer is of utmost importance, and they have developed two sets of bulls to meet the needs of their customer base.
“We have Poundmaker bulls and Cowmaker bulls for sale,” Krein explains. “The Poundmakers focus on growth and performance. They get more inputs, but they are also heavier and more focused on growth.”
On the other side, the Cowmaker bulls are developed with an emphasis on maternal traits and the enhanced ability to run year-round on the range with fewer inputs.
“For us, the difference between Cowmakers and Poundmakers physically is about a frame score or a frame score and a half,” Krein explains. “There’s also about a 4.5 inch difference in height. The Poundmakers hit 1,500 pounds, and the Cowmakers are 1,300 pounds.”
Additionally, there are a number of differences in the pedigrees of the cattle to ensure they hit their respective targets.
“We feed a lot of our cattle to yearlings too, so we aren’t skipping on growth, performance or carcass in any of the cattle,” Krein emphasizes. “Those traits are of utmost importance to us.”
Private treaty sale
Though Broken Arrow Angus raises bulls for sale, Krein says they have steered away from a traditional sale day format.
“Our bulls are sold on a first-come, first-served basis private treaty starting the first Tuesday of March every year,” he explains, noting this year, the sale is set for March 5. “We don’t sell any bulls prior to our opening day, but bulls may be viewed at any time at our headquarters.”
Bulls are priced ahead of time, and they operate strictly on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We really like selling our bulls private because it allows us to spend a lot more time with our customers,” Krein says. “I try to visit their ranches and see their operations. Because of the way we’re set up, we can help determine which cows or bulls might work best for their situation.”
Krein adds it is important to be able to find the right bull for every herd to make sure customers are satisfied with the result.
“If someone goes home with a bull that doesn’t work for them, no one is happy,” he comments. “We focus on serving our customers.”
With between six and 10 full-time employees at Broken Arrow Angus, Travis’ wife Katie and his five daughters are fully integrated into the ranch.
“Our living comes solely from the cow business,” Krein says. “We are a family operation with Christian values, and we are blessed to do what we love with the people we love.”
In fact, Krein explains Katie and his daughters, ages 5 to 13, do the majority of the calving for their registered herd, which spends its winter near their home ranch near Van Tassel.
“Katie is the one who weighs calves, tags calves, fixes fence and more,” Krein says. “The girls are out there doing the hands-on work at the place, too.”
He adds, “If they’re not working on 4-H projects and whatnot, during the summer, the girls are with me working on the ranch.”
Broken Arrow Angus has had a bit of what Krein calls an “unfair advantage” in running the ranch and raising bulls that comes from their youth, enthusiasm and energy.
“Now, we’re moving into a different chapter of our lives,” he says. “We’ll be chasing kids to sports, 4-H and school activities a lot more.”
However, he also notes their work at Broken Arrow Angus won’t be left behind.
“We have paid for a lot of experience and enjoy working with the guys who work with us to help them avoid the same costly mistakes,” he says. “They have the youth, enthusiasm and energy and are able to capitalize on their mistakes.”
Krein continues, “In the cattle industry side, I don’t see a lot of expansion in the future for Broken Arrow Angus. Instead, we’ll focus on the quality of cattle and the quality of our relationships with our customers.”
Visit Broken Arrow Angus online at brokenarrowangus.com.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.