Kraye Angus Ranch
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The Kraye Angus Ranch is located in the heart of the awesome Nebraska Sandhills. The Sandhills provide a very unique environment, and many ranching practices that work well in other parts of the country, are not possible in this region due to the fragility of the soil. Cattle raised in the Sandhills have to be able to adapt to the harsh weather conditions that can range from extreme cold to high heat and humidity. Primarily a cow/calf operation, Kraye ranch runs approximately 700 registered Angus cows.

Since their wedding in 1984, John and Julie have been the primary care takers of the cow herd, and have lived right on the ranch. John and Julie and their children, David and Helen, bought the ranch from John’s parents, Fred and Theresa Kraye, in 2001. After graduating from high school, David went to college for a while, then came home to the ranch in 2005. He has his own house and he has been a part of the daily routine and the decision making on the ranch since then. Fred and Theresa retired from the cattle business with a dispersal sale in the fall of 2000, followed by an equipment sale in the fall of 2001, and for several years after that Fred continued to be involved in the production of hay on the ranch. Approximately 800 acres of irrigated alfalfa makes the ranch a haying operation during the summer months.

The Kraye ranch was formed when John's grandfather, Ernst Kraye, bought a portion of the ranch in the 1920's and added adjoining acres, over the years, as they became available. Fred Kraye was born and raised on the ranch and in 1953 bought his first Angus cows, to be able to keep his cattle separate from his dad's Herefords. Angus cows have been a major part of the ranch, ever since.

Kraye Angus Ranch Home SiteOver the years Kraye Angus has participated in the AHIR program, thru the American Angus Association, and kept thorough records on all of the cows and calves. They have used EPD's to develop more marketable calves, while maintaining a balanced cow herd. An intense culling process is used for production and profitability, while adhering to the guidelines of the Angus breed. Through the use of AHIR and the AIMS software, extensive records have been kept on every cow and any cow not producing her fair share is culled from the herd. A large percentage of the heifer calves will stay on the ranch, as replacement heifers.

It has been a Kraye policy to synchronize and artificially inseminate the yearling heifers and the early
calving mature cows, which has diversified the genetic makeup of the Kraye Angus cow herd. We still
have many cows in the herd whose pedigrees read like the “Who’s Who” of the Angus breed with sires
including Focus, VRD, Krugerrrand, Final Answer, Upward, Payweight, Net Worth, Renown, and South
Dakota and many more. It is a continuing challenge to match up the genetic traits of our cows with the
genetics of the leading sires in the Angus breed.

For the last several years we have synchronized the older mature cows before working with the first and
second calf heifers. That gives the young cows some extra time to recover and be ready to cycle, and for
the most part that has been working better for us.
Using MGA, we synchronized 197 heifer calves and all but 12 of them cycled. Between David and I, we
can average about 20 heifers an hour and we bred 145 the first day and picked up 40 more in the next
couple of days.

When we preg tested the heifers on the 14 th of August, we had 43 open heifers, about 21%. More open
heifers than we’ve ever had and maybe not our best results, but it is what it is, and we need to remind
ourselves that heifers don’t always settle for various reasons, not just human error!
Before getting started breeding on the heifers we put CIDR’s in 140 running age cows, so they were
ready to be bred right after the heifers were done. We had 129 cows in that bunch cycle and get A.I.ed
The weather was our typical A.I.ing weather, with everything from wet and cold to heat and wind. We
had 5.31 inches of rain and some snow during May, so the corrals were sloppy, and we spent time
cleaning the corrals but for the most part, our big breeding days were decent, and we were satisfied
with how the cows cycled.

Along with the heifer calves, we synchronized four groups of cows and natural heat detected on the rest
of the cows and we ended up getting 614 cows bred with artificial insemination, which is about normal
for us.

The cows were inseminated to Powerhouse, SAV Abundance, SAV Raindance 6848, Seedstock, SAV
Quarter Back 7933, U-2 Coalition, Alcatraz, Kraye Payweight and Kraye Seedstock and Flying V
Transformer. The heifer calves were bred to Circle L Landmark, Ellingson Homestead 6030, Musgrave
Fundamental, and Kraye Payweight.

We had a busy month and put in a lot of hours, but everything went very well. Our nephew, Brad
Wright, has worked on the ranch since high school and has been a full-time ranch hand since graduating
from college. We all have our jobs and we all know what to do, and we have a system that works for us.
Brad keeps cows in the alley, never putting in more than 4 cows and sometimes just 2, so the cows can
stand quietly and comfortably, while they wait. This allows David and I to concentrate on breeding the
cows. While the three of us are busy in the corrals, it’s John’s job to run the ranch and most days all of
the ranch chores fall to him. Some years when the A.I.ing and the haying overlap, it puts quite a strain
on all of us and our resources are stretched about as far as they can go. During the summer months we
did have some extra help, David and Stacy’s nephew, Cooper Layher, worked for us and did everything
from running hay equipment, doing yard chores and whatever was needed of him. We look forward to
Cooper joining us again this coming summer.

2019 seemed to be the year of the never-ending winter. If we had an abnormal amount of snow thru the
winter months, I must not have recorded it, but in looking back it seems like the whole winter was cold.
We had brutally cold temperatures and wind chills, for most of the month of February. We had 400
calves born in that month and most of them had to be born in the barns. It was exhausting, around the
clock work and the March weather didn’t improve much. On the 13 th of March we had 1.03 inches of
rain in the morning, that turned to snow around 10 a.m. The winds whipped the snow all around. We
fed extra hay and tried to get cows and calves bedded down, with some form of wind protection. For
the first time ever, we actually moved our youngest pairs into the tree lot around the house and bedded
them down.

The wind driven snow covered all the windows of the house, making it a little odd not being able to look
out in any direction. The only access in and out of the house was thru the garage, and since the garage
door had been left open, the snow drifts inside the garage were about 3 feet deep. We were exhausted
and frankly feeling a little sorry for ourselves, when the news started coming in about the unbelievable
flooding and devastation in northeastern and eastern Nebraska, and into Iowa. We decided in that
moment, that we had nothing to complain about, and no matter how brutal our weather had been, it
was nothing compared to what the farmers and ranchers in those areas were having to live through.
The moisture continued thru the summer months. We had around 5.31 inches of rain in May. 2 inches in
June and then 3.14 in July and 4.94 inches in August, (typically one of our drier months) and even 2.98
inches in September. By October we were back into snow again, and in November we ended up with
blizzard warnings with 8 to 10 inches of snow and blowing snow. Then to top it off, we had an ice storm
that coated everything, including the snow, with an ice glaze. We never lost power, but watching the
power lines whip and dance, with all of that ice, it’s a real wonder that we didn’t. December continued
with snow and blowing snow, but we did miss the big blizzard around Christmas that buried the areas as
close as 50 miles east of us.

With the pastures being in good condition, we did our fall cattle work again this year at a more
traditional time. We preconditioned the bull calves on the 14 th of August, and we weaned them on the
5 th of September. David and Brad had been pasture sorting the bull calves and had already sorted off 118
bulls and banded them to make them steers. We weaned 159 bull calves at an average weight of 645
pounds.

We weaned 226 heifer calves on the 27 th of September with an average weight 0f 598. The 118 steers
were weaned on the 28 th of September with an average weight of 586.

We weaned all the calves in the pastures. We use a portable corral and we sort the cows and calves.
The calves get worked thru the chute and get their final weaning shots and we get individual weights on
them all. The calves get turned back into the pasture they were in with their moms, but the cows are all
hauled to the corrals at the house. The calves go back to grazing and since they don’t know where to
look for their cows, they just don’t. The cows are much better equipped to stand in the corral for 3 days
than the calves are. It is the best stress-free way we have found to wean the calves.

The bull calves were left in their pastures for a few days, then we gathered them together and put them
into a smaller pasture and we started bunk feeding them every day. From the little pasture the bulls
were moved to the pivot up here at the house where they were able to graze on the millet regrowth and
the newly planted rye grass and we still bunk fed them every day. Before the weather got too cold and hunting season arrived, the bulls were moved into one of the larger lots close to the house and then on
the 20 th of November, we sorted, weighed and put Lot tags in the bull calves and put them into the bull
pens, where they will stay until they move to town just prior to the bull sale.
Granted the bulls are a lot of work, but we all thoroughly enjoy spending time with them. They all have
very different personalities and some of them are real jokesters! We are all in the pens with the bulls at
least two or three times a day, and most afternoons will find John or David out wandering in the pens
with the bulls.

The heifer mates to the bull calves are every bit as impressive as the bulls are. They are calm and gentle
and a pleasure to be around. We have saved 200 heifer calves and they make a striking group. We are
extremely proud of the type of cows these girls will grow up to be. We are undoubtedly proud of our
bulls and it is very satisfying to watch them go on to improve other cow herds, but the heifer calves are
the true heart of our cattle program and it is a real thrill and a pleasure to see them every day. These
females represent a dedicated effort to the improvement our own cow herd because it is the proven,
productive cow families that are the foundation of our cattle program, and they are the roots that allow
us to stand strong in the winds of industry change.

At the beginning of January, we got the heifers in and got individual yearling weights and put in
permanent tags. These heifers have a beautiful hair coat, thick, black and shiny. Some old timers will say
that’s a sign that we are in for some serious winter…guess time will tell.

We have 154 bred heifers that came home, at the end of January. We usually have just a few calves in
January, but we will be calving strong thru the month of February. We are extremely fortunate and have
a lot of barn space, and although we interfere as little as possible, we can protect the new moms and
their young babies, long enough for the calves to get dry. In our business it is important to save the ears.
Four years ago, we started a fall calving herd. We had a large fall calving herd quite a few years back,
and personally I wasn’t real excited to start up another one. But our fall herd had grown to over 80 cows
now and we had been A.I.ing them in the fall and getting some very nice fall calves. At this year’s sale we
will have 11 of the 2018 fall bulls. This will be an opportunity to get some bulls that are 18 months old,
and that will be a little more mature than the yearlings. These bulls have been close to the ranch, since
they were born, and they are extremely calm and completely used to seeing people every day. These
bulls will be the last fall bulls that we will have to sell for a few years. We sold our falling calving cows on
the 3 rd of June, this summer and did not have any fall calves in 2019.

Our family grew, when David married Stacy on the 12 th of October. Stacy was a native of Stapleton,
Nebraska. Stacy spent much of her childhood around horses and cattle, but she is no stranger to tractors
and hay equipment. Stacy works for Farm Credit Services of America and she commutes to North Platte,
but most weekends will find her helping do chores and working with the cattle, or helping in the hay
fields.

Over the years we have had our faith and optimism tested and we have learned some very valuable
lessons. We have learned that we have to be able to adapt and we have to be flexible enough in our
management practices to fit all of the different conditions that Mother Nature can throw at us.
Life is a series of learning experiences and as cattle ranchers we try and learn from past mistakes and we
try to anticipate the challenges of the future. We are not always successful, but we try to stay focused and raise the best cattle we possibly can. All of our cattle…bulls, heifers, and cows are all honest, hard-
working cattle that must pay their own way, just as a herd of commercial cattle would be expected to
do.

This coming sale will be our 29 th annual production sale and it will take place on the 4 th of April, 2020, the
first Saturday of the month, and we will keep our fingers crossed for a beautiful weather day. We will be
selling 110 performance bred, registered yearling Angus bulls, along with 11 – 2018 fall born bulls. There
will also be 30 purebred commercial yearling heifers for sale. We are proud of these bulls and heifers.
They are modern, deep-bodied cattle that are heavily muscled with strong bones and correct
conformation, along with being calm and having gentle dispositions.

At Kraye Angus cattle is what we do. Our cattle are our livelihood, our hobby, our recreation and our
passion. With the exception of a few cows that David has bought over the years, all of our cows are
home-raised.

We enjoy visiting about our cattle and our cattle program. We will gladly try to answer any and all of
your questions.

We are proud of our cattle and we are committed to the improvement of our herd. We appreciate your
interest in our cattle.

 

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Updated:.02/05/2020