HanSine Angus: Being the best, buying the best

Using wisdom from other established producers and having a passion for producing the best cattle possible, the HanSine Ranch is looking forward to their second annual bull and female sale next April. Photo courtesy HanSine Ranch.
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HanSine Ranch of Pierre, South Dakota installed their first purebred Red Angus cows in 2015, and despite being relatively young as an operation, it has dived headfirst into producing nothing but the best. Through purchasing top-notch bulls and excellent females, having support from established breeders, and incorporating teamwork, they are quickly earning a reputation for their superior quality.  

In 2007, Travis Shaffer and his business partners, Rusty and Doneen Hollinsworth, purchased HanSine Ranch between Pierre and Hayes, South Dakota. The unique name comes from the couple that previously owned the ranch: Hans and Sine Hoeppner. “When we first started purchasing land in Stanley County, there was grassland with it. We rented the pastures for a few years. It just came to fit that we would get into the cattle business, and once we were in the cattle it just seemed to fit that we would go all the way to the purebred business,” Shaffer says. 

Their original registered herd was purchased from Pieper Red Angus, of Hay Springs, Nebraska, and Mark Pieper has been a steadfast friend and supporter of Shaffer in the early years. “[He] is one of the main guys that’s helped me along, get started, and encouraged me to have my first sale,” Shaffer says.  

Travis Shaffer’s family loves helping on the ranch, and his sons are showing a keen interest in the business. The Shaffers also own Cone AG Inc., a fertilizer company in Pierre. Photo courtesy HanSine Ranch. 

Before venturing into the cattle business as an adult, Shaffer attended college at South Dakota State University, followed by a career as a crop consultant in Nebraska for a time. He then moved to Pierre with his wife where the two purchased Cone Ag, Inc., with the Hollinsworths. “I grew up on a farm and I loved every minute of it. There just wasn’t any room for me to be on the family farm. Owning the fertilizer business in Pierre was my path to getting back to the farm and ranch side of things. I love the lifestyle,” he says.   

Disposition was a main deciding factor in settling on the Red Angus breed. “I just didn’t need the risk of people getting hurt,” Shaffer says. “I had young kids at that time. Most of the cows we work with, you can walk out and scratch them. When the kids were little they’d just hop on their backs.”  

The maternal side is emphasized in their breeding program, but the HanSine Ranch also strives for weaning and yearling growth and carcass characteristics. “It all starts with a great cow. That’s been the foundation of our herd,” says Shaffer. 

Brian Brigham, who manages data and registration for the operation, sums up their approach: “Travis’s philosophy is, ‘The only way we’re going to be the best is if we buy the best.’” It is reflected in their purchase of high-end bulls throughout the past couple of years–bulls they are confident will have a lasting impact. PIE Captain was purchased in part by HanSine Ranch at the Pieper Red Angus Sale this April. They also own KJL/CLZB Complete, PIE Yellowstone, and PIE Milestone. “We’ve bought some pretty cool bulls over the last couple of years that are probably breed changers,” he says.  

Continual growth toward the ideal animal is achieved with quality stock on both ends. Shaffer is eager to reap the benefits of the decisions he has made on the maternal side. “We’ve raised some really cool females and I’m looking forward to seeing their progeny coming through,” he says. Another reason to look forward to the future is that his children are becoming more interested in the operation as they get older. His oldest son, Hayden, will attend college at SDSU in the coming year, but has a desire to come home to help run the ranch. Hayden’s little siblings, Hudson and Harper, along with Shaffer’s wife, Melissa, also like to help on the ranch horseback. Shaffer’s two oldest daughters, Hannah and Haddie, are currently studying physical therapy and medicine, respectively.  

The HanSine Ranch inaugural bull and female sale was held last April, and though there were challenges, the whole team was pleased with the results. “We were very happy with how the sale went. There’s a lot of interest in the cattle we have. In the Red Angus breed in general, most of the people involved were very supportive,” Shaffer says. “It’s hard starting. Your first year is always rough, but we were pretty pleased at how our first sale went, being new to the business. Overall, everything sold really well and it was well-received. It is hard to make a name for yourself in one year,” says Brigham.  

“I’m kind of big on if you’re going to sell females, you’d better sell good ones,” Shaffer says. HanSine Ranch features commercial cows alongside the registered. “Our registered cows run with the commercial cows. The only difference is the color of tag in their ear. They need to perform the same as a commercial cow. There’s no pampering or special treatment. Everybody runs together out there, and they either make it or they go to town,” Brigham says.  

Shaffer appreciates the land quality above the Missouri River. “Western South Dakota is the king of grass country. It’s good, hard grass country,” he says. Bruce Thompson is the ranch manager for HanSine and Casey Heninger works as his assistant. “Those two guys are the heart and soul of the cattle operation. They are with all our calves from the time they are born to the time we wean,” he says.   

Shaffer’s dedication to the breed is evident. “I have a very high passion for good cattle, and I love good cattle. I mean, I absolutely love them. We are just striving to produce the best cattle we possibly can,” he says.  

The next HanSine Ranch Annual Female and Bull Sale will be Apr. 9th, 2022, at the “four corners” of Highway 34 and Highway 14 west of Hayes, complete with corrals and space for viewing all available cattle. 

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