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 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 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 186 heifer calves and all but 17 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 24 more in the next
couple of days.

When we preg tested the heifers on the 18 th of July, we had 25 open heifers, about 13%. More open
heifers than we’d like to see 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 120 running age cows, so they were
ready to be bred right after the heifers were done. The weather was our typical AIing weather, with
everything from wet and cold to heat and wind. We had quite a bit or rain and snow during May, so the
corrals were pretty 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 623 cows bred with artificial insemination, which is about normal
for us.

The older cows were inseminated to SAV Topsoil, Brooking Bank Note, Bullerman Unlimited (a son of
International and a grandson of Harvestor), SAV Renown, Stevenson Templeton and GAR Impression.
The younger cows were bred to Connealy Spur, Renown, Unlimited, Topsoil, Made Right and Kraye

This year we bred some of the heifers to one of our own bulls, Kraye Payweight, a bull we sold to Tyson
Cox in 2016. We also bred the heifers to Ellingson Homegrown, (a grandson of Thunder), Musgrave Big
River, (a great grandson of Consensus), RB Made Right, (a son of Unanimous) and another Kraye bull,
Kraye Valor, a bull that Cedar Top Angus bought in 2016.

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 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.

2017 started out with lots of snow in January and when it melted and refroze, it winter-killed some
alfalfa. As the Spring evolved, we had moisture throughout the Spring, but we had a lot of moisture
during the month of May. In the later part of May we had inches of rain and we had inches of snow,
sometimes even on the same day. We were anticipating a good growing season, and our grass and our
pastures got a good start, but start was all it did. On the 30 th of May the low temperature was 38
degrees and we worried about frost. Our rains completely quit in June, and we had no measurable rain.
We had a small shower on the 2 nd of July and then again nothing until August. Even as dry as the area was, we still had high humidity and that’s probably what saved our grass as much as anything. We
thought we were in for another drought like 2012, so we made a drought plan, and we moved all of our
cattle work up. We took the herd bulls out on the 5 th of July, we preg tested the heifers on the 18 th of
July. We preconditioned all the calves in July, and by the 29 th of August, all of the calves were weaned,
the cows preg tested and back out to pastures. Even after the rains started again in August, our grass
was thin and we thought that we were still just two hot dry weeks away from another drought, so we
stuck to our plan. Our fall grazing has looked good, but the volume isn’t there and it isn’t lasting like we
had hoped that it would.

Most years we start to pasture sort the bull calves in late summer, but it was mid-summer this year. We
evaluate all the bull calves and the bulls that are not growing and maturing the way that we think they
should, are sorted out and banded. By the time we weaned the bull calves, we had already sorted off
111 bull calves and made them into steers.

Even though we weaned early, we still weaned in the pastures. We use a portable corral and we sort the
cows and calves. All of 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 Sudan grass
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 19 th of December, 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.

This year when we put Lot tags in the bulls, we again left the calf tags in, because last year that made it
so much easier for John and I to make the transition from calf tag to lot tag. For their entire lives, we
have only known them by their tag number and even though David could 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. Where we weaned early,
we have been bunk feeding the heifer calves all fall, and they are calm and gentle and a pleasure to be
around. We have saved 164 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.

Toward the end of January, we will get the heifers in and get 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 174 bred heifers that will come 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

Three 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 has grown to over 80 cows
now and we have been them in the fall, and getting some very nice fall calves. At this year’s sale
we will have 19 of the 2016 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.

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

This coming sale will be our 27 th annual production sale and it will take place on the 7 th of April, 2018, 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 20 – 2016 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

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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