Continuing the dream: Bartos Angus Ranch | TSLN.com

Continuing the dream: Bartos Angus Ranch

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenBartos Angus genetics have been developed to produce large-framed cows that effectively convert forage to gain and produce large calves that excel at gain in the feedlot.

When lung cancer prematurely claimed the life of Keith Bartos of Verdigre, NE, in 2007 his wife and children held tightly to memories and the legacy of the black Angus genetics Keith had developed in the family’s 300-head cow herd.

Keith’s wife, Nancy, says they all wanted to at least make an effort to continue with the plans she and Keith had for the ranch where they invested nearly 35 years of their lives.

“Keith and I both grew up with cattle and loved horses,” Nancy says. “He started using AI on commercial Angus cows in 1970. His dad, Emil, helped him get started and helped feed out calves. Every year, Keith kept back the best bull calves. As time went on, neighbors and friends purchased some of our bulls. That’s when Keith started adding a few registered cows to our herd. Now, 65 percent of our cows are registered and we have a production sale every February.”

Keith’s dream for his family’s ranch was development of large framed cows that convert forage to energy and drop calves weaning at 50 percent of their mother’s body weight. Keith and Nancy’s focus has always been on providing commercial producers with seedstock that would produce calves that would result in optimal profits in the feedlot. The efficient genetics found in the Bartos bloodlines have created a demand for their bulls and heifers for quite a few years.

“We have genetics from the Stevenson’s at Hobson (MT),” Nancy says. “They’re deep-bodied animals that can put pounds on. In 2000, one of our steers was 1,600 pounds when he was 364 days old. Carcass weight has been the number one trait that we wanted to see in our cattle. Keith always said pounds of beef are the only thing packers pay for. That’s the premise we’ve used to build our herd.”

In spite of the current trend for grass-based producers to develop small-framed cows to harvest grass, the Bartos family has cultivated genetics that include large cows. When calves go into the feedlot, they average between four and five pounds of gain per day. The rapid gain characteristics coupled with high quality meat are consistent traits found in the Bartos genetics.

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“We don’t try to make our bulls fat,” Nancy says. “We want to them to grow but also have good body condition. We place their water about half a mile from where they eat so they get good exercise every day. The ration we use for supplemental feed includes gluten to tie the forage and corn together.”

Jemi’s brothers, Jake and Chip, have chosen to find work outside the ranch. Her sister, Angie, completed her veterinarian training and provides consultation as necessary for treating or developing cattle. Jemi, who began learning how to AI shortly before her father’s death, says she had a strong inclination to remain involved in the ranch.

“I love the cattle,” Jemi says. “It’s hard work. Mom and I have to ask for help sometimes when there’s something to be done that takes more strength than we have. But it doesn’t make sense to me to go somewhere else and spend 30 years or more developing what’s already right here. I plan to stay involved with the ranch.”

Jemi takes responsibility for daily grinding of hay and feeding the nutritionally balance ration they use for their cattle. She and Nancy work together to oversee the genetic makeup of their herd and make decisions about sales and breeding strategies.

“We have some friends who help us, who are willing to answer our questions,” Nancy says. “For now, we’re pretty much maintaining the herd as it’s been all these years. We’re not absolutely certain what direction we’ll take in the next couple of years.”

As they work through the pain of their loss and meet the daily challenges their work poses, Nancy and Jemi say they’re learning a lot about the cattle business and themselves.

“There are some other women who have lost their husbands and are trying to maintain their ranch,” Nancy says. “I know of one young woman who has three little children. I think that would be very hard.”

Nancy says her advice to women in similar situations would be to avoid making significant changes in their ranching operation within the first couple of years, even if it means relying on neighbors for help or allowing cattle yards to be empty for a time. Market cycles and economic changes bring enough change and challenge without adding new responsibilities or production methods.

“There are a few things I would do differently now that we’ve gone through these past two years,” Nancy says. “Some of the things we had to change involved things like buying a skidloader because we didn’t have the ability to clean barns the same way Keith did. We’ve also looked for ways to save time so we could spend more time on the most important parts of the job.”

Jemi, who’s engaged to be married in the near future, says the main lesson she’s learned over the past two years is the importance of searching out her deepest desires and following her own instincts to make decisions about the right direction to take.

“I’m glad I learned how to AI before dad got sick,” she says. “Once they diagnosed his illness, it was only about 17 days before he was gone. In a situation like that, you have to determine what’s best for you. What do you want to do? Then don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

The Bartos family is grateful for all the assistance neighbors have provided and know there’s no way to attach a value to the assistance they’ve received.

“We’ve been blessed with wonderful neighbors,” Nancy says. “We’ve had so much help from them. Keith knew so much about the cattle, he kept most of that knowledge in his head. Some days it’s very hard to keep moving forward, but that was his dream so now, more than ever, we’re making it ours too.”

When lung cancer prematurely claimed the life of Keith Bartos of Verdigre, NE, in 2007 his wife and children held tightly to memories and the legacy of the black Angus genetics Keith had developed in the family’s 300-head cow herd.

Keith’s wife, Nancy, says they all wanted to at least make an effort to continue with the plans she and Keith had for the ranch where they invested nearly 35 years of their lives.

“Keith and I both grew up with cattle and loved horses,” Nancy says. “He started using AI on commercial Angus cows in 1970. His dad, Emil, helped him get started and helped feed out calves. Every year, Keith kept back the best bull calves. As time went on, neighbors and friends purchased some of our bulls. That’s when Keith started adding a few registered cows to our herd. Now, 65 percent of our cows are registered and we have a production sale every February.”

Keith’s dream for his family’s ranch was development of large framed cows that convert forage to energy and drop calves weaning at 50 percent of their mother’s body weight. Keith and Nancy’s focus has always been on providing commercial producers with seedstock that would produce calves that would result in optimal profits in the feedlot. The efficient genetics found in the Bartos bloodlines have created a demand for their bulls and heifers for quite a few years.

“We have genetics from the Stevenson’s at Hobson (MT),” Nancy says. “They’re deep-bodied animals that can put pounds on. In 2000, one of our steers was 1,600 pounds when he was 364 days old. Carcass weight has been the number one trait that we wanted to see in our cattle. Keith always said pounds of beef are the only thing packers pay for. That’s the premise we’ve used to build our herd.”

In spite of the current trend for grass-based producers to develop small-framed cows to harvest grass, the Bartos family has cultivated genetics that include large cows. When calves go into the feedlot, they average between four and five pounds of gain per day. The rapid gain characteristics coupled with high quality meat are consistent traits found in the Bartos genetics.

“We don’t try to make our bulls fat,” Nancy says. “We want to them to grow but also have good body condition. We place their water about half a mile from where they eat so they get good exercise every day. The ration we use for supplemental feed includes gluten to tie the forage and corn together.”

Jemi’s brothers, Jake and Chip, have chosen to find work outside the ranch. Her sister, Angie, completed her veterinarian training and provides consultation as necessary for treating or developing cattle. Jemi, who began learning how to AI shortly before her father’s death, says she had a strong inclination to remain involved in the ranch.

“I love the cattle,” Jemi says. “It’s hard work. Mom and I have to ask for help sometimes when there’s something to be done that takes more strength than we have. But it doesn’t make sense to me to go somewhere else and spend 30 years or more developing what’s already right here. I plan to stay involved with the ranch.”

Jemi takes responsibility for daily grinding of hay and feeding the nutritionally balance ration they use for their cattle. She and Nancy work together to oversee the genetic makeup of their herd and make decisions about sales and breeding strategies.

“We have some friends who help us, who are willing to answer our questions,” Nancy says. “For now, we’re pretty much maintaining the herd as it’s been all these years. We’re not absolutely certain what direction we’ll take in the next couple of years.”

As they work through the pain of their loss and meet the daily challenges their work poses, Nancy and Jemi say they’re learning a lot about the cattle business and themselves.

“There are some other women who have lost their husbands and are trying to maintain their ranch,” Nancy says. “I know of one young woman who has three little children. I think that would be very hard.”

Nancy says her advice to women in similar situations would be to avoid making significant changes in their ranching operation within the first couple of years, even if it means relying on neighbors for help or allowing cattle yards to be empty for a time. Market cycles and economic changes bring enough change and challenge without adding new responsibilities or production methods.

“There are a few things I would do differently now that we’ve gone through these past two years,” Nancy says. “Some of the things we had to change involved things like buying a skidloader because we didn’t have the ability to clean barns the same way Keith did. We’ve also looked for ways to save time so we could spend more time on the most important parts of the job.”

Jemi, who’s engaged to be married in the near future, says the main lesson she’s learned over the past two years is the importance of searching out her deepest desires and following her own instincts to make decisions about the right direction to take.

“I’m glad I learned how to AI before dad got sick,” she says. “Once they diagnosed his illness, it was only about 17 days before he was gone. In a situation like that, you have to determine what’s best for you. What do you want to do? Then don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

The Bartos family is grateful for all the assistance neighbors have provided and know there’s no way to attach a value to the assistance they’ve received.

“We’ve been blessed with wonderful neighbors,” Nancy says. “We’ve had so much help from them. Keith knew so much about the cattle, he kept most of that knowledge in his head. Some days it’s very hard to keep moving forward, but that was his dream so now, more than ever, we’re making it ours too.”

When lung cancer prematurely claimed the life of Keith Bartos of Verdigre, NE, in 2007 his wife and children held tightly to memories and the legacy of the black Angus genetics Keith had developed in the family’s 300-head cow herd.

Keith’s wife, Nancy, says they all wanted to at least make an effort to continue with the plans she and Keith had for the ranch where they invested nearly 35 years of their lives.

“Keith and I both grew up with cattle and loved horses,” Nancy says. “He started using AI on commercial Angus cows in 1970. His dad, Emil, helped him get started and helped feed out calves. Every year, Keith kept back the best bull calves. As time went on, neighbors and friends purchased some of our bulls. That’s when Keith started adding a few registered cows to our herd. Now, 65 percent of our cows are registered and we have a production sale every February.”

Keith’s dream for his family’s ranch was development of large framed cows that convert forage to energy and drop calves weaning at 50 percent of their mother’s body weight. Keith and Nancy’s focus has always been on providing commercial producers with seedstock that would produce calves that would result in optimal profits in the feedlot. The efficient genetics found in the Bartos bloodlines have created a demand for their bulls and heifers for quite a few years.

“We have genetics from the Stevenson’s at Hobson (MT),” Nancy says. “They’re deep-bodied animals that can put pounds on. In 2000, one of our steers was 1,600 pounds when he was 364 days old. Carcass weight has been the number one trait that we wanted to see in our cattle. Keith always said pounds of beef are the only thing packers pay for. That’s the premise we’ve used to build our herd.”

In spite of the current trend for grass-based producers to develop small-framed cows to harvest grass, the Bartos family has cultivated genetics that include large cows. When calves go into the feedlot, they average between four and five pounds of gain per day. The rapid gain characteristics coupled with high quality meat are consistent traits found in the Bartos genetics.

“We don’t try to make our bulls fat,” Nancy says. “We want to them to grow but also have good body condition. We place their water about half a mile from where they eat so they get good exercise every day. The ration we use for supplemental feed includes gluten to tie the forage and corn together.”

Jemi’s brothers, Jake and Chip, have chosen to find work outside the ranch. Her sister, Angie, completed her veterinarian training and provides consultation as necessary for treating or developing cattle. Jemi, who began learning how to AI shortly before her father’s death, says she had a strong inclination to remain involved in the ranch.

“I love the cattle,” Jemi says. “It’s hard work. Mom and I have to ask for help sometimes when there’s something to be done that takes more strength than we have. But it doesn’t make sense to me to go somewhere else and spend 30 years or more developing what’s already right here. I plan to stay involved with the ranch.”

Jemi takes responsibility for daily grinding of hay and feeding the nutritionally balance ration they use for their cattle. She and Nancy work together to oversee the genetic makeup of their herd and make decisions about sales and breeding strategies.

“We have some friends who help us, who are willing to answer our questions,” Nancy says. “For now, we’re pretty much maintaining the herd as it’s been all these years. We’re not absolutely certain what direction we’ll take in the next couple of years.”

As they work through the pain of their loss and meet the daily challenges their work poses, Nancy and Jemi say they’re learning a lot about the cattle business and themselves.

“There are some other women who have lost their husbands and are trying to maintain their ranch,” Nancy says. “I know of one young woman who has three little children. I think that would be very hard.”

Nancy says her advice to women in similar situations would be to avoid making significant changes in their ranching operation within the first couple of years, even if it means relying on neighbors for help or allowing cattle yards to be empty for a time. Market cycles and economic changes bring enough change and challenge without adding new responsibilities or production methods.

“There are a few things I would do differently now that we’ve gone through these past two years,” Nancy says. “Some of the things we had to change involved things like buying a skidloader because we didn’t have the ability to clean barns the same way Keith did. We’ve also looked for ways to save time so we could spend more time on the most important parts of the job.”

Jemi, who’s engaged to be married in the near future, says the main lesson she’s learned over the past two years is the importance of searching out her deepest desires and following her own instincts to make decisions about the right direction to take.

“I’m glad I learned how to AI before dad got sick,” she says. “Once they diagnosed his illness, it was only about 17 days before he was gone. In a situation like that, you have to determine what’s best for you. What do you want to do? Then don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

The Bartos family is grateful for all the assistance neighbors have provided and know there’s no way to attach a value to the assistance they’ve received.

“We’ve been blessed with wonderful neighbors,” Nancy says. “We’ve had so much help from them. Keith knew so much about the cattle, he kept most of that knowledge in his head. Some days it’s very hard to keep moving forward, but that was his dream so now, more than ever, we’re making it ours too.”