Current Edition

current edition

2018 Winter Cattleman's

Lewellen, Neb. – Tipton Ranch is a diversified livestock operation located 21 miles northeast of Lewellen, Neb.

“We started out with lots of energy and little equity, and what we have now is the result of 45 years of learning from our mistakes,” states Mike Tipton, Tipton Ranch owner and operator. 

History

For Mike and his wife Belinda, Hereford cattle have always been a part of their lives.

“Both of us were raised in Hereford families and showed in 4-H with our Herefords,” says Tipton.

The Tiptons originally established their operation in North Park, Colo. 45 years ago, while working for other ranches and registered cattle programs of various breeds.

“We started the herd with 35 bred heifers we bought from the Upstream Ranch,” Tipton notes.

In 1984, Tipton Ranch moved to the Sandhills of western Nebraska, where they had the opportunity to become first-time landowners and where they have been ever since.

Over the years, the Tipton children Rindy, Tad and Kinsey grew up helping their parents on the family ranch until they graduated college and went their own ways.

“All the kids had their own Herefords, showed cattle in 4-H and were active in multiple county, state and national livestock shows,” adds Tipton.

Now, Rindy and Tad, along with their families, live and work in Sheridan, while Kinsey and her husband live in Lander.

Operation

Tipton Ranch is a diversified livestock operation where they raise registered Herefords, run a commercial cattle herd and operate a commercial feedyard.

“On site, we also have a heifer development and custom artificial insemination (AI) program and run yearlings on grass and rye pastures,” Tipton mentions.

“In the last 45 years, we’ve been able to eliminate a lot of problems and focus on profitability from a production standpoint,” states Tipton, adding, “Our approach is being cost effective for ourselves, as well as our customers.”

Out of the registered Hereford herd, 55 to 85 two-year-old bulls are sold by private treaty, while most of the steer calves are either finished in the feedyard or sold as yearlings, depending on the cattle market.

Tipton Ranch concentrates on proven genetics that are validated not only by the Tipton family but to many commercial operators, and they have feedlot data to show their genetics are working.

“Our cattle are easy to look at and have won their share of awards, but the real emphasis has always been on providing bulls for commercial cattlemen who make their living with their cattle,” Tipton notes. 

On the ranch, there are four pivots where rye, sorghum and sudangrass mixes are grown to feed the cattle during the year, along with native hay.

“The economics involved with our various enterprises have given us tremendous insight into all aspects of the cattle business and have greatly influenced our decision-making for our registered operation,” he adds.

Benefits and struggles

According to Tipton, the Sandhills of Nebraska have a lot of benefits, but there are also a few challenges.

“There’s better grass country, and there’s worse grass country, but this area has some of the best average grass country,” notes Tipton.

He says there are a large number of grasses and forbs to graze, including cool, intermediate, late and warm-season grasses.

The ranch utilizes a combination of windmills and submersible pumps to provide stock water to all the pastures.

“We are fortunate to have excellent water. We can drink out of any well on the place,” Tipton states.

Other benefits he mentions include the proximity to sale barns, feedyards, packing plants and feeds unavailable in other areas.

“There is a lot of opportunity in Nebraska, and it’s in the heart of cattle country,” Tipton states.

“This part of the Sandhills can have its share of weather, regulation and market issues, but it’s a great place to live,” he claims.

Most of the challenges the Tipton Ranch faces are challenges any other producer faces, states Tipton.

“In today’s economic environment, it’s difficult to survive by being average,” he says. “We really are blessed with where we live and by the opportunities western Nebraska offers.”

The reason

Agriculture can be challenging, but both Mike and Belinda like the industry and the people they deal with.

“We grew up in agricultural environments, and it’s what we’ve always done. We like the way of life and think it’s a great way to raise a family,” he says.

Tipton believes if people do what they like, they are usually successful.

“Surviving in the cattle industry has always been a long-term goal and has been a driving factor for us in our business,” Tipton adds. 

For more information, visit tipton-ranch.com/wp.

Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Nebraska agriculture has been described as expansive and diverse with an abundance of natural resources,” says the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). “The landscape varies from large pasture dotted with feeding cattle to miles of rolling hills bursting with a wide variety of crops and everything in between.”

NDA explains abundant water supply and ample crop and pasture lands are the most important asset for the state’s residents. 

“Farms and ranches in Nebraska have been handed down from generation to generation, and families still serve as the hub of the state’s number one industry – agriculture,” NDA says. “Known for hard-work ethic and a strong set of values, these families continue to produce the highest quality food products that help feed the world.”

Foundations

The first pioneers entering western Nebraska were met by a host of semi-nomadic Indians, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Potawatome, who lived in teepees that were dismantled and moved with the buffalo herds that provided them sustenance. 

It wasn’t until fur traders began to traverse the state, traveling along the North Platte River, that white settlers entered the area. Lewis and Clark mapped the eastern boundary of the state in 1804,  but it wasn’t until 1854 that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress, organizing the Nebraska Territory. Prior to that date, the land was reserved for Indian settlements.

The Union Pacific Railroad was completed across Nebraska in 1867, the same year that Nebraska joined the U.S. as a state, and the Burlington system crossed the state by the mid-1880s. 

“Many early railroads received land grants from the state and federal governments to offset the cost of construction,” says theus50.com. “These lands were sold to settlers through extensive advertising campaigns, with some companies sending representatives to Europe to encourage immigrants to come to Nebraska.” 

In 1904, Congressman Moses Kinkaid of Nebraska  passed the Kincaid Act, which increased the size of homesteads from 160 to 640 acres, bringing with it a population cell in the Sandhills of the state. 

Ag impacts

According to Farm Flavor, “Agriculture is the heart and soul of Nebraska.”

“As the state’s leading industry, the impact goes far beyond the plate, providing Nebraskans with jobs, significantly contributing to the state’s economy and touching the lives of its citizens every day,” the organization continues.

Production in Nebraska reaches more than $25 billion and is the result of work on 49,100 farms and ranches on 45 million acres. 

“In fact,” Farm Flavor reports, “farms and ranches use 92 percent of Nebraska’s total land area.”

Nebraska was fourth in the nation in terms of red meat production in 2014, and they are leading in production of cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, dry edible beans, hay, wheat and more.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports approximately 59 percent of the production value in the state of Nebraska comes from livestock.

Corn and cattle are the top two commodities produced in the state. 

“Nebraska also leads the way in production of many other crops and livestock,” says NDA. “It has been the number one producer in the United States of popcorn and Great Northern beans and among the state leaders in producing soybeans, wheat, dry edible beans, pork, grain sorghum and eggs.”

Extensive reach

Beyond production ag, NDA says one in four jobs in the state is related to the agriculture industry, and careers in agriculture include insurance, equipment sales and repair, technology, irrigation, engineering and more.

“Agribusiness is vital to the state’s economy, and having a ready and willing workforce has helped those businesses thrive,” explains NDA. “All Nebraskans seem to be connected to agriculture in one way or another.”

The infrastructure in Nebraska provides the necessary routes to move ag products easily across the state. 

“With monikers like Cornhuskers and The Beef State, it doesn’t take long to figure out corn and cattle are two of the top commodities produced in Nebraska,” NDA says. “The ready supply of corn as feed for the cattle results in producing premium-quality meat products, which are sought by consumers throughout the world.”

More information on Nebraska’s agriculture industry can be found at nda.nebraska.gov.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bushnell, Neb. – When Klent Schnell graduated from college and came back to the family ranching and farming operation in 2002, it was to work in partnership with his dad Dave. 

Their goal was simple. They wanted to build a herd of cattle that would really appeal to the commercial cattlemen. 

“Dad and I always believed we had the genetics that could offer an outcross that would help improve many commercial cattlemen’s herds. Crossbred cattle have been proven to outperform and increase longevity in a mother cow, compared to a straight-bred cow,” Klent Schnell explains. 

Par Terre Cattle

The cattle operation near Bushnell, Neb. is known as Par Terre Cattle Company. It is a family operation consisting of Dave and Bev Schnell, and their son Klent, his wife Sara and their children Kaitlynn, Kale and Kennedi Schnell. 

Dave and Klent manage the cowherd and the farming operation. Their wives help with the annual bull sale and the children’s 4-H projects. 

“My kids are very involved in the county 4-H program, which I believe is a great way to raise children and teach them responsibility and work ethic,” Schnell says.

Selling bulls

The first bulls from their program were sold in 2003, and they have held an annual production sale ever since. 

“Our first bulls were Maine Anjou-Angus cross, with a lot of the genetics coming from the first Maine Anjou bull we purchased in Denver, Colo. in 1998,” he says. “Prior to that, we were using Charolais bulls on our cowherd but decided to use Maine Anjou to produce a black crossbred calf.”

When the Maine Anjou breed started moving more toward show cattle, the Schnells decided to do something different. 

“We brought Simmental genetics into our herd about eight years ago because we believe the SimAngus female is the ideal female for the industry. Simmental cattle are easy fleshing, great milking and perform great in the feedlot, as well as on the rail,” Schnell explains. “Par Terre genetics were five of the top 10 carcass animals at the Kimball-Banner County Fair last summer.”

Growing operation

Over the years, the family has built the herd up to more than 400 mother cows that calve in January and February. 

“We are unique calving in January and February, but we have found it works well for us,” he says. “That time of year is cold but not wet and cold. It allows us to have calving completed by the time the spring field work begins, while also allowing us to offer bull calves to our customers that are almost a year-and-a-half old at breeding,” he adds. 

The registered SimAngus herd is managed like their commercial herd. None of the cows receive special treatment. Every female is artificially inseminated (AI’ed) and then turned out with cleanup bulls for 60 days. 

“We also do some embryo transplant work and flush a few donor cows. We transplant about 10 to 15 embryos each year,” he says.

The herd sires are selected based on expected progeny differences (EPDs) and phenotype. 

“A bull or female can have great numbers, but if they are not structurally sound and don’t milk, they are not worth having in our herd,” he explains. “Our first-calf heifers are bred to a curve-bending Angus bull, and the cows are mated based on breed percentage and what has worked before.” 

The cows must get bred and wean a big calf every year, or they are culled from the herd. 

Selling livestock

The calves are weaned in August and placed in a grow lot where they will gain 3.5 to four pounds a day. 

The Schnells select the top 40 to 45 bull calves each fall, then pick the best 25 for their sale. The bull calves are fed a high roughage diet to maximize their growth potential, without getting them too fat. 

The middle cut of the heifers are saved as replacements. The rest of the calves are backgrounded and marketed in November or December each year. 

This year’s production sale will be held Feb. 24 at the family ranch, with the annual sale held the fourth Saturday in February. 

“One hundred percent of our bulls are sold to commercial operations,” Schnell explains. “Our buyers can spend about one-third less on a bull that is just as good as one in a purebred sale.” 

“Our bulls’ longevity is one of our top selling points. They don’t fall apart the first breeding season and will keep breeding cows for six to seven years,” he adds.

Schnell also artificially inseminates 800 to 1,000 head of cows each year for neighbors and other ranches.

“It is something I really enjoy, and it helps bring in new customers and friends,” he says. 

Ups and downs

Schnell has found agriculture to be a challenging way to make a living but, at the same time, rewarding and a great way to raise a family.

One of the biggest challenges in their operation is maintaining their standard of living while paying the high property taxes in Nebraska. 

“Our legislature needs to figure out a way to not rely so much on agriculture to support the state,” Schnell says. “It makes it very hard to expand our operation when the property tax is so burdensome,” he adds.  

He also finds consumer awareness becoming more critical for livestock producers. 

“We must raise a safe and wholesome product that the end consumer wants and is willing to pay for,” he says.

Through it all, Schnell says his family is “thankful to be involved in the greatest and most rewarding industry in this country.” 

“Our hope is to continue to be able to provide practical, functional cattle to our customers and friends,” he says. 

For more information about Par Terre Cattle Company, Klent can be reached at 308-235-9251 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Crawford, Neb. – In 2014, the Crawford Cattle Call was born. The one-day event is held in the streets of downtown Crawford, Neb. on the first Saturday of November every year with the goal of celebrating agriculture, bringing the community together and showcasing local businesses in the area. 

“About two years after I moved back to Crawford from Gillette, my husband and I bought the grocery store in town,” says Sam Dyer. “I also got involved with the Chamber of Commerce, and we decided to incorporate some new events in our community.” 

Dyer used the Valentine, Neb. Bull Bash and Northern International Livestock Exposition bred heifer pen of three show as inspiration to develop the Crawford Cattle Call.

Early years

“In 2014, we held our first Crawford Cattle Call, which started with a bred heifer show,” Dyer explains. “We also offered the chance for ranchers to bring their herd bulls in to display.” 

Cattle pens were set up along Main Street in Crawford, and in their first year, 17 pens of cattle were showcased. The second year, they added a heifer event and set up 28 pens of cattle. In their third year, with the addition of bulls, 42 pens of cattle lined Main Street. 

“In our fourth year, we were down a little bit to 38 pens, but it was a great contest,” she says. “Ultimately, we want to have a pen of three contest between the heifer calves, bred heifers and bulls and offer ranchers the chance to bring their display bulls in, too.”

Other events

In addition to the cattle show, Crawford Cattle Call brings events for the whole family. 

“Early in our planning, we decided to add something new every year,” Dyer comments. “If we did the same thing every year, we knew people would get bored and stop coming, so we try to keep the event fresh each year.”

In 2016, they added a beef cook-off, and over the past several years, Crawford Cattle Call has held a hay bale decorating contest, barnyard bingo and more. Nearby Fort Robinson brings their stagecoach and gives free stagecoach rides to attendees, and Dyer notes everyone is excited to help.

New this year, Crawford Cattle Call hosted a 5K run, as well. 

“For a lot of our events, we try to involve other community groups, too,” she comments. “PEO wanted to do the 5K, and Farm Bureau does the hay bale decorating contest. Friends of Pets put on a penny carnival, and the church puts up a bouncy house for the kids.”

“We’re always looking for groups who want to take on an aspect of the event,” Dyer says.

Activities for the children also allow adults to gather while their kids are playing. 

Community focused

Until 2017, Dyer says they have been blessed with good weather. 

“This year, it got really cold, so the bars and restaurants were packed,” she says, noting that the community businesses also see additional sales that day. 

The Cattle Call hosts a variety of vendors in 40-foot-by-20-foot tents.

“We bring a huge number of commercial vendors and ag vendors,” she says. “We’ve had several dealers who brought tractors, and we had a big tent full of vendor exhibits.” 

The event is beneficial for the ag industry, as well. 

Dyer adds, “It also allows people to see our cattle.” 

A number of Wyoming cattle producers also participate in the event, she says.

“We have a lot of interest in this event,” Dyer comments. “We keep seeing more interest from further away. It’s exciting.”

Working together

“We have probably 400 to 500 people attend each year,” Dyer says.

The Harrison FFA Chapter and the Dawes County 4-H Junior leaders are also instrumental in the event.

“If we didn’t have the FFA students and the junior leaders, I’m not sure we would get all set up,” she adds. “We have to put up panels, and we spread chips, as well. It takes a community to put it together.”

“We want to showcase agriculture and specifically the ranchers in the area, but we also want to benefit the business of downtown Crawford,” Dyer comments. “Next year, the Crawford Cattle Call will continue into its fifth year. This is always a really fun event.”

Saige Albert is managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Crawford, Neb. – Sellman Ranch sit southeast of Crawford, about 1,000 feet in elevation higher than Chadron.

“When we got here in 1973, the kids wondered why we stopped,” says Butch Sellman, patriarch of Sellman Ranch. “It’s windy, cold and snowy, but it works for us.”

Butch and his late wife Becky bought the ranch, where they raised their three children, Adam, Ryan and Georganne.

“We’re a family ranch,” Butch says. “There are four different families who are involved. We all have our own niche, but we all pitch in and help each other.”

Moving to Nebraska

The Sellman family’s ranching history extends back to the 1940s, when brothers Marshall and Dick established Sellman Brothers Ranch at Watrous, N.M.

For the Sellman family, Hereford cattle were a draw, and Marshall was president of the American Hereford Association in 1964.

“When we decided to expand, we relocated to western Nebraska’s hard grass country,” Butch says.   

Butch and his brother Tom operated Sellman Brothers Ranch together from 1974-82, when the brothers decided to split the operation.

“We’re probably one of the only family ranches that split on good terms,” says Butch. “We decided, with our growing families, we could do more with two operations.”

Butch and Becky’s ranch became Sellman Ranch, and they have maintained their passion for the Hereford breed and their high-quality cattle.

After Becky’s passing in 2010, Butch married Gail Hartman, who was born and raised on a ranch in western Nebraska.

Cattle operation

“We run about 500 cows and buy 1,500 head of calves to make fat steers or grass cattle out of them,” Adam says. “We also host a bull sale on the third Friday in March and sell about 150 bulls. We’ve been doing that for about 20 years now.”

The ranch started with Hereford cattle, but in 1995, the Sellmans added Angus cattle to their operation. Both Angus and Hereford bulls will be available for purchase at their annual sale on March 23, 2018.

“We’re looking for a moderate birthweight, easy fleshing bull with lots of maternal traits and good expected progeny differences,” Adam says.

Butch continues, “We send a lot of bulls into areas like Newcastle, so we know they have to survive on the range.”

The Sellman family artificially inseminates (AI) 80 percent  of their cattle using bulls from their own herd and the breed’s top bulls. There are about 100 later-calving cows that are naturally bred by their own bulls.

“We did our first embryo work on Herefords in 1983,” Butch says. “We wanted to stay progressive and competitive with our cattle.”

In the last 10 to 15 years, the family has raised between 40 and 60 Angus and Hereford embryo calves each year.

Busy year

The diversification of Sellman Ranch means they stay busy year-round.

“We have the registered cattle and put on a bull sale, and we have yearling cattle we purchase in the fall,” Adam says. “Keeping the yearlings healthy and finding enough grass keeps us busy.”

Butch adds, “It can be tough to find enough grass, though. We’re always looking for more grass to run yearlings on.”

The yearling steers are sold on Western Video Auction each year, often to repeat buyers.

Crawford Livestock Auction represents their yearling steers on Western Video and also hosts the annual bull sale.

“We also have a lot of farmland that keeps us busy in the summer,” Adam says. “Our summers are busy haying, like everyone else.”

Their operation is entirely dryland farm ground, and recently, they started raising corn for silage.

“Everything we raise goes back to the cattle,” Adam emphasizes. “We don’t sell any small grains or corn. It all goes to the cattle.”

Cows are calved in the beginning of February through barns, and after AI’ing at the beginning of May, cattle are taken to grass by May 20 until October, when they are weaned.

“If the cattle don’t make a bull, they’ll go to be fat cattle or grass steers,” Adam explains. “We also sell 100 to 150 head of bred females every fall privately or through the sale barn. That allows us some flexibility in our herd.”

“We are competitive people, and we enjoy raising good bulls,” Butch says.

Adam continues, “We’re just like every family. We’re hoping to better ourselves and our cattle for the next generation.”

Competition

The Sellman family also takes competition seriously, and they attend six to eight or more shows over the course of the summer, including the Hereford Junior National Show and others.

“Attending shows teaches kids to be competitive,” Butch explains. “They also learn to go out and meet people. Adam and Jodi met because they went to shows.”

In their early years, Adam and Jodi competed against each other at the Junior National Hereford Show.

“We used to take cattle to the National Western Stock Show and have 10 to 15 head on The Hill, but as the kids got older and times have changed, we haven’t done that as much,” Butch says. “Our grandkids still go to 4-H and Hereford shows around the country.”

Family involvement

Butch’s children are all actively involved in different aspects of the ranch today.

Adam, the oldest son, lives on the home ranch and is involved in the daily operations of Sellman Ranch, along with his wife Jodi and children Jake and Bailey.

“Ryan and his wife Sandi really enjoy the show steers and club calves,” Butch says. “He concentrates on raising really good show steers, and they, along with their children Kendall and Reid, travel around the region attending a variety of cattle shows.”

Georganne and her husband Brent along with children Wiley, Hannah and Kyle have a backgrounding lot, where they feed several thousand calves. They also have a cow/calf operation, and “Brent also does a lot of custom farming, as well,” says Adam.

“All four families are here on the ranch. We’re all independent, but we work together,” he adds.

“The next generation is also coming up,” Butch says. “They’re actively involved and excited about ranching. I think that’s helped us to be successful.”

He continues, “We’re a family operation, and we enjoy each other and the work. There aren’t many jobs that I don’t enjoy on the ranch. Some things are better than others, but there isn’t anything I don’t like.”

Butch adds, “It’s nice to do what we want to do and to experience the joy in agriculture.”

More information on Sellman Ranch is available at sellmanranch.com.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..