Van Newkirk family focuses on consistency in Hereford cattle | TSLN.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Van Newkirk family focuses on consistency in Hereford cattle

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.

When a customer purchases a Hereford bull from the Van Newkirk family, he is buying a bull from a consistent herd with a life-long reputation.

Lorenzo Van Newkirk came to western Nebraska in the late 1800s and started his ranching career as a cowboy for the John Bratt Ranch, which had a large holding in Garden County. Later, Lorenzo homesteaded his own ranch north of Lewellen, and started raising Longhorn cows. According to his grandson and the current operator of the ranch, Joe Van Newkirk, Lorenzo purchased his first Hereford bull to use on the Longhorn cows. “He tried to find the darkest red Herefords he could to get rid of the spots on the calves,” Joe explains.

When Joe’s father A.J. took over the ranch, he introduced registered Herefords into the operation in 1942. Although A.J. passed away over 25 years ago, the family ranch continued to prosper under the guidance of Joe’s mother. Joe and his family are the current operators of the family ranch continuing the legacy that started over 67 years ago.

Joe and his wife, Cyndi, have three grown children, who all attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick graduated with a degree in finance. Kolby is a senior finishing a degree in agriculture business, and their daughter, Sara, is a sophomore, also majoring in agriculture business.

“This is a family operation,” Joe said. “My wife and kids are just as much a part of the success of this ranch as I am. They get right in there and help with whatever ranch work needs to be done.”

The Hereford breed has been good to their family. “We have had pretty good success with the Herefords,” Joe said. “The Herefords suit our climate, and they do well for what feed we have available, so we have no reason to change. Our business has really grown over the years, and we have built the backbone of this operation on our repeat customers. They make us successful.”

Joe explained the Hereford cattle have a thicker hide and adapt well to the heat and cold of western Nebraska. “What I like about them is they are very low maintenance,” he said. “They are low input cattle that are very feed efficient.”

Although he raises registered cattle, Joe said he has never sat through a cattle show, his cattle have never seen a show ring, and they are not treated like anything special.

“Our core business is selling Hereford bulls to the western high plains cattlemen,” he said. “Our cattle graze nine months of the year on Sandhill grass and cornfield crop residue. When we start calving in the middle of February, we bring them in and feed them hay until they go to grass again in mid-May.”

Over the years, Joe said his family has worked hard to produce cattle that are uniform. He said the group of bulls that will sell during their annual bull sale in January may be among the most consistent they have produced. The quality runs deep.

Some of that consistency could be attributed to a bull Joe said has become the backbone of the family’s herd.

“We bought JV General from John Venhuizen in 1997,” Joe explains. “When I saw him, I really liked his muscle, shape and the look of his mother. We started out using him as a heifer bull. We really liked the heifers he sired, and kept quite a few of them for cows. He is in over half of our cow herd pedigrees now. It seems like everything that has him in their pedigree is heavy milking. He ended up being more of a foundation sire, and I have used him for AI. I don’t sell any semen from him because I lost him a few years ago, and don’t have much left.”

To produce consistent cattle, Joe said they try to select for specific traits. “We try to select cattle with moderate birth weights,” he says. “We also like efficient, growthy, high performance cattle that gain. We like cattle that are efficient and convert feed into gain. Since we feed a lot of our cattle out and realize that is what pays the bills, we want to produce cattle that grow well.”

Joe said he has also tried to select cattle with more pigment to get rid of pink eye and sunburned udders. “We are trying for cattle with more red around their eyes and pigment on their udders to alleviate these problems,” he said.

Through it all, Joe said they try to maintain cows that mature at 1,250 to 1,350 pounds and produce calves that wean at least half of the cow’s body weight. “We try to wean calves that weigh at least 650 pounds and will finish at 1,250 pounds at 12-14 months,” he explains.

Joe said only the top half of the bull calf crop are retained for their annual bull sale in January. The rest are finished at a local feedlot. “We try to collect as much data as possible on them from the time they are born until they are slaughtered,” he says.

Since his grandfather and great-grandfather managed the operation, Joe said there has been some changes over the years. These days, they use a lot more technology on the family operation. “We still work cattle on horseback,” he said. “We do a lot of other things the same, too. But, we use ultrasound to collect carcass data. We AI and do a little embryo transfer. We also work harder to gather EPDs on our cattle. I think all of this information helps us put our finger on the cows that are not producing as well as they should, and allows us to cull them more efficiently.”

Joe said they usually sell around 100 coming two-year-old bulls at their annual sale. “We hold the majority of them until they are two because we are set up where we can do that. When we deliver them, we can put them straight into a pasture with other bulls and they can hold their own. They don’t need to be babied – they are ready to go,” Joe said.

These bulls are weaned as calves during the first part of October. “We wean them right here and feed them through the winter. We try to grow them through the winter,” he said. “Then, they go back to grass the first part of June and we supplement them while they are on grass from June until November. Then, we bring them back here and put them on 50 acre traps and feed them ground hay and silage until they sell. They are never in much of a feedlot situation. They are pretty much grazing with a supplement all the time.”

Although the majority of the bulls they sell are coming two-year-olds, Joe said they also sell a limited number of yearling bulls. “The yearling bulls we sell are usually out of some of our higher quality cows,” he explains. “We also have some criteria we use to determine which ones we will sell. They have to be February calves and have an adjusted 205-weight of 700 pounds. By January, they usually weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds. We try to keep them until April and then deliver them so they can continue to grow and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about them.”

During the sale, Joe said they also sell about 50 registered Hereford heifers. They also sell heifers without papers in groups of 10. “They are a hard working and efficient set of heifers,” he said.

Joe said buyers who purchase cattle in the sale get the best guarantee in the business. “The bulls already have a year under their belt and are very sound,” he said. “Buyers will see cattle with a lot of natural thickness and soundness. They are out of real functional honest cows. They are a very uniform, thick and functional set of bulls.”

The top selling bull at the sale typically commands $7,000 to $8,000. “Last year, we averaged about $3,900 for all our bulls,” he said.

In the future, Joe said the family hopes to expand their market and buyer bases. “We want to continue to tweak and improve the carcass quality of our cattle.”

Joe said he also keeps an eye on progress being made by scientists in gene mapping. He is particularly interested in the tenderness gene. “I think it could be of great benefit to our industry,” he said.

The Van Newkirk family will host their 37th Annual Bull Sale at the ranch Monday, Jan. 18th, beginning at 1 p.m. MT. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The sale will feature 100 two-year-olds and 20 yearling bull calves. They will also be selling 100 yearling heifer calves.

The sale will also be broadcast on Superior Productions/RFD Television. For more information about the sale or their operation, please see their website: vannewkirkherefords.com. They can be reached by calling 308-778-6049. They have bull catalogs and video of their sale cattle available.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User