Cattle Journal 2023: Snowshoe Cattle Company, Herefords, Nebraska |

Cattle Journal 2023: Snowshoe Cattle Company, Herefords, Nebraska

From the mountains of Montana to the Sandhills of Nebraska, the Buzanowski family of Snowshoe Cattle Company have been breeding high quality, polled Hereford cattle for over 30 years.

In 1988, Bernie and Stacie purchased their first registered cows. They worked for other registered cattle breeders while growing their own herd. “We developed our own program in Montana, but were unable to expand there. We wanted enough room for our family to come back, so in the fall of 2019 we purchased a ranch between Arthur and Keystone, Nebraska,” Stacie said. “Nebraska has a lot more opportunities that are readily available, especially with the higher moisture and growing our own feed.”

The Buzanowskis have found that the move to Nebraska has been a learning experience with the different grasses, soil types and management techniques. “In Montana we had to haul the cows a hundred miles to summer pasture, so now, not hauling them and letting them stay year-round in the same place has helped the cows,” Stacie said. “Moving has been like starting over with a new business, letting folks know we are here and establishing new customers. We also continue to service our long-time Montana customers as well.”

The Snowshoe Herefords are required to perform in every environment and have developed cows that will adapt. They are hoping to beat the current drought and expand their herd. “When we bought this place we tried to insulate ourselves from drought–2019 was one of the wettest years and it has been dry ever since. We have pivot ground to raise winter feed but this year we put up only 50 percent of normal hay production,” Stacie said.

“With the shortage of feed this year it is good to see our cows still maintain their condition and wean off heavy calves,” Bernie said.

Their mission is to provide a balanced genetic package in all essential traits with the emphasis on the cow, believing it takes a great cow to raise a great bull. The cow herd must provide excellence in mothering ability, udder structure, athletic phenotype and quality carcass analysis without compromise. The family has studied Hereford genetics extensively, with a focus on how they function and excel in multiple environments. “For decades we have challenged our cow herd to perform in the same conditions that our bull customers run their cows, with limited inputs, rugged terrain, extreme weather conditions and a demand for foraging ability,” Stacie said. “We ensure that the bulls we raise and sell into both purebred and commercial herds are balanced in their phenotype with lots of growth, maternal performance and carcass. Our goal is to provide genetics that can multi-task and are nice to look at.”

“Snowshoe Cattle has been ultrasounding bulls for over 15 years,” said Bernie. “We want to make sure we have the data to back up our program. This also provides better opportunities for our customers in marketing their calves.”  

To take pressure off of the ranch, the bull calves were sent to a grow yard near Sidney, Nebraska; this is the first time Snowshoe bulls have been fed out off of the ranch. The bulls will return home after the first of the year as the family prepares for their annual  bull sale. The steer calves were also sent to the same grow yard. They will be sold privately, with data collected for carcass quality. The family also feeds a few at home for their own freezer and for a few customers who like to locally source their meat. The heifers are developed at home.

They offer around 70 polled Hereford yearling and 18-month-old bulls annually that are the product of three decades of breeding Hereford genetics. The sale is at the ranch the fourth Monday in March. “We also offer females and some F1 baldies for our customers,” Stacie said. “We still haul bulls back to Montana for our long-time customers. Our last sale we sold to 11 states and Mexico.”

Snowshoe bulls are bred to build cows that work and sire calves that pay. “Our successes are our customers successes, when they have a good set of baldy calves and their paycheck shows it. It is also exciting to see our registered customers enjoy a return on their investment in our program, one spent a couple thousand on a heifer and she has returned a couple hundred thousand for them,” Stacie said.

 Their daughter Rachael recently finished law school and is an associate attorney at Budd-Falen Law Offices in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She is involved in the ranch but is hoping to move closer and take part in more of the daily operations. Son Austin and his wife Breanna and grandson Bennet remain in Montana where Austin is a livestock production specialist with Purina.

The Buzanowskis have been successful in recent years in connecting customers with calf buyers eager for calves sired by Snowshoe genetics for the Hereford Branded Beef programs.

“We are committed to producing Hereford cattle that provide balanced genetics without compromise,” Stacie said. “To further prove our commitment to our customers, we are adamant about incorporating our own genetics back into the herd. If they’re not good enough for us, they’re not good enough for you. We like the people we have met over the years but sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day work. It’s good to go visit our customers and figure out if what we are raising are meeting their needs. For us cattle are more than just a business.”