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Deep roots in industry: With extensive background in cattle industry, brothers Lex and Val Carter team up to create successful family operation

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Roots in the cattle business run deep at Carter Cattle Company. In fact, brothers Lex and Val Carter grew up on their grandfather Homer’s commercial cattle operation on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. 

“Growing up, we ran cattle on the reservation. We also had a place out on the desert for a while as well as a ranch up in Driggs,” Lex states. “During those years, we also had a small dairy. But, it didn’t take us boys long to realize it was a lot more fun working with the beef cows than the milk cows.” 

Lex explains he was in a partnership with his father and his brothers, Val and Ladd, for a while.

“We had a couple of dairies in addition to the beef cattle and farming operation,” Lex continues. “However, after a few years, we decided to go our separate ways. Ladd and his boys still run commercial cattle up on the reservation.”

Carter Cattle Company

After going their separate ways for a while, Val and Lex decided to reunite and form Carter Cattle Company. 

“Val and I started Carter Cattle Company nearly 25 years ago,” Lex states. “We sold Angus bulls private treaty for three years, then had our first production sale in 1999. We felt like this union was to our mutual benefit.”

Today, Lex, Val and Val’s son Colter run close to 600 registered Angus cows in addition to a commercial herd. The cows are run on nearly 100,000 acres through a grazing association on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands, as high as 8,500 feet on Pass Creek in Mackey, Idaho.

Val and Colter take care of the cattle full time, while Val represents ST Genetics. 

“I have worked for ST Genetics for about 4.5 years, and I was just reassigned positions two months ago,” Lex says. “I am actually going to take on a new venture. A friend of mine from Virginia and I are starting our own artificial insemination (AI) company called Breeder Link. We will sell semen from prominent Angus bulls around the country.”

In between travels, Lex returns home to help on the ranch.

“Running a family operation is really important to us,” Lex states. “I have eight siblings. All of them live within 10 miles of the ranch and are in some way associated with the cattle business. I feel really fortunate to have a big family because some days it takes all of us.” 

Raising Angus cattle

Carter Cattle Company turned to Angus cattle because they feel the breed is the most problem free.

“We started with Angus but my grandfather also raised some Herefords,” Lex explains. “Val and I felt the Angus breed was more trouble free. They have good udders, good mothering abilities and calf vigor, which is important when calving in January. We need cows that don’t need a lot of help calving and calves that will get right up and suck.” 

“We always try to stress the optimum, not the maximum,” Lex continues. “We try to produce cattle that can survive in harsh environments, with an emphasis on maternal traits, fertility and longevity.”

Additionally, Lex explains Carter Cattle Company focuses on cow families with a history of success in fertility and production. They flush older cows on the ranch that have proven to work well in their environment to try duplicating some of those families through embryo transfer. 

“We look at carcass and marbling traits, but they aren’t our focus,” Lex says. “Instead, we place a heavy emphasis on maternal traits. But, we also don’t breed for extremes because we have realized, in our environment, we can’t select for too much growth or milk because if we go too far out of bounds, we come back with several issues.” 

2020 production sale

This year, Carter Cattle Company hosted their 21st annual production sale on March 19 at the ranch in Pingree, Idaho. 

“For about five or six years we held our sale at the Blackfoot Auction Barn, but recently we built a sale facility on the ranch,” explains Lex. “It has been a nice change. We typically sell 200 bulls, and our sale brings about 300 people or more.”

He continues, “It works well because we feed our bulls at the same location so we don’t have to haul them. The morning of the sale, our families put on a big dinner. It is a lot of work but it is so rewarding. We have so many loyal customers we are thankful for, and we owe a huge thank you to our returning auctioneer, Roger Jacobs.” 

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Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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