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 500 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 EXT, Focus, VRD, Krugerrand, Sitz Alliance, Traveler 044, 1407 and On Target. Then there are the younger cows that are the progeny of Image Maker, Net Worth, 095, In Focus, 338, Upward, Grid Maker, Reflection, Bextor, Gridiron and Final Answer. It is a continuing challenge to match up the genetic traits of our cows with the genetics of the leading sires of the breed.

In the past we had given up on getting our first calf heifers artificially inseminated. Due to quiet heats we were missing too many heat cycles and we were hindering more than helping, so for several years we turned the first calf heifers out with the cleanup bulls just as soon as possible. We had pretty good luck with that. Then new technology came along and we had some other options. We had used a fertility enhancer, called a CIDR, on some of our later calving cows and we were able to move them up a cycle or two. Pleased with those results we decided to try the CIDR’s on our first calf heifers. For the first couple of years we had really good results, but then for a couple of years the results were marginal at best, so we had to reevaluate our breeding program for these young cows.

For the last three years we have synchronized the older mature cows before working with the first and second calf heifers, and for the most part that has been working better for us.

Using MGA, we synchronized 189 heifer calves and all but 25 of them cycled. Between David and I, we can average about 20 heifers an hour and we bred 126 heifers the first day and picked up 32 more in the next couple of days.

When we preg tested the heifers on the 8th of August, we had 110 heifers settled to their A.I. dates, 48 that were bull bred and 37 opens. More open heifers than we would like to see, and probably 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 130 running age cows, so they were ready to be bred right after the heifers were done. The weather was beautiful for a change, it seems like we get a large variety of weather to inseminate in every year, but during our big days this year we were lucky and had decent weather conditions, so the cows cycled well and we got most of each group to cycle.

Besides the heifers were synchronized four groups of cows and natural heat detected on the rest of the cows and we ended up getting 619 A.I.ed which is about normal for us.

The older cows were inseminated to SAV Seedstock 4838, SAV Renown 3439, Brooking Bank Note 4040, WAR Hero X499, PA Valor 201, Sitz Dollar Up 489Z, Still In The Rough, and BSF Hot Lotto 1401.

The heifers were bred to KG Solution 0018, Connealy Capitalist 028, MAR Innovation 251, Basin Payweight 1682, Still in the Rough, and EF Commando 1366.

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, so we all know what to do and we have a system that works out for us. Brad keeps the alley full for David and I to concentrate on breeding the cows, and then if we are caught up in the corrals, Brad helps John do all of the other ranch chores.

We thought 2015 was the year of green, but 2016 was very similar. It was an excellent rejuvenating year for our pastures again. The grass grew all summer and late into the fall, and most of the grass stayed ahead of the cows all through the growing season. It was an amazing year and refreshes our faith in Mother Nature. We must treasure these good years because we know that the drought years will come again.

In late summer, we start to evaluate the bull calves and we begin pasture sorting the calves. The bull calves that are not growing and maturing the way we think that they should be, are sorted out and banded. By the time, we were ready to wean, we had already sorted off 103 bull calves and made them into steers.

With all the good grazing, we could wean the calves on a more traditional schedule.  On the 30th of August, we weaned the bull calves in a portable corral, in the pasture that they had been running in with their cows. We work the calves first, getting individual weights and giving weaning vaccinations, and then we turn the calves back out. From the corral, we haul the cows to the corrals at the house. With the calves going back in the pasture that they have been grazing in, they don’t know where to look for their cows, so they just don’t. It’s the best stress-free way we have found to wean the calves.

After a few days, we put all the bull calves together and we start bunk feeding them every day. Towards the end of September, we moved the bulls to a smaller pasture, not far from the house, where there was fresh range and we could keep track of them a bit more.

 The next move for the bulls was to the pivot here at the house, where they could graze on the Sudan grass stubble and the freshly planted rye grass. During the second week of November, we moved the bulls off the pivot and shut them up in our east calving lot, where they got to stay until the 28th of December, when we brought them into the corrals to sort them. We sorted the bulls into two groups, took individual weights and put in Lot tags. This year we put the Lot tags in, while leaving their calf tags in the other ear. We are hoping that this will help us make the transition from tag number to Lot number a bit easier! For their whole lives, we have only ever known them by their tag number, and although David could easily recognize them without any tags at all, John and I need the cross reference for at least a little while.

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. Right before Christmas we sorted the heifer calves, in the portable corral, and they were calm and gentle and a delight to work with. We have saved 184 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 bull calves 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. Towards the end of January, we will get the heifers in and get individual yearling weights and put in permanent tags. The heifers have a beautiful hair coat, thick and black and shiny. Some old timers will say that’s a sign that we are in for some serious winter…guess time will tell!

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 25th annual production sale and it will take place on the 2nd of April, 2016, the first Saturday of the month, and we will keep our fingers crossed for a beautiful weather day. We will be selling 120 performance bred, registered yearling Angus bulls, along with 20 purebred commercial yearling heifers. 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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