Warner Beef Genetics: Building on a legacy
March 14, 2019
The Warner family roots run deep in Furnas County Nebraska. 135 years and six generations raising crops and cattle. Otto Warner emigrated from Germany when he was 16 in 1884. He homesteaded in Furnas County, eventually marrying a local girl Leonie Kammerer. They farmed and raised a large family. Their son Robert carried on the family farming tradition, he also married a local girl Rose Hilker. Their son Robert Jr continued farming with his wife Marjorie Litz whom he married in 1945.
"My Dad, Robert Jr worked off the farm during the winter time. The biggest project he worked on was the Beaver City Municipal Pool. It was all built by hand and since it was winter they had to keep the cement covered and heated." Monte Warner said. "The blizzards of 1948 & '49 were tough. Dad walked across country to town to get groceries, it was a good 5-6 miles and he purchased only what he could carry back. Dealing with all the snow was hard. We didn't have any equipment that could move the snow out of the roads, Dad's only option was a shovel. The military had a depot in Hastings, Nebraska, 100 miles away. They brought Caterpillars out to plow out the roads. Those guys worked around the clock and the Cats didn't have cabs. They used old house windows and wood to cobble up protection for the operators and to contain the engine heat for warmth."
Monte married a Cozad, Nebraska girl Kristie Lammers in 1972 after graduating college in Hastings, Nebraska. "Dad said he couldn't support four boys farming." Monte said. "So in 1976 we purchased 320 acres of farm and pasture land and together with the starter herd of 20 Hereford cows I had accumulated while in 4-H, we started on our own. The land my great grandfather homesteaded is still in the Warner family but I don't live on any of it."
The couple had two sons Darren and Dan. While in high school Dan injured his back and was unable to play sports, his good friend Brian Helms got hurt too. So Dick Helms, Brian's dad took the boys to the Gelbvieh Junior National Show in Oklahoma, that trip became a turning point in Dan's life igniting a lifelong affair with the breed. "What started as a hobby has become an addiction." Dan said.
“My dad always said in agriculture if you aren’t growing, you’re dying. Dan Warner
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By this time the family herd of cows had grown to 300, Monte went to an ABS AI school in 1975 and started improving his herd, introducing Gelbvieh genetics in the mid-1980s. "We bred up what we had." Monte said.
Darren graduated from college and returned in 1996 to Furnas County to take over and expand the farming side of the operation. The family rented more farm ground and he married Amy Keir, the couple has three children Aubree, Bryson and Addelyn who are involved in the farm.
Dan attended college in Colorado, graduating in 2000, and he married Kate Kessinger. They moved back to Furnas County and focused on the cow herd. Dan and Kate have four children Gentry, Berkley, Kallan, & Creyton. The older ones are already showing cattle at the Junior National Shows, the National Western and at State Fairs. "We work as a family and have fun as a family." Dan said.
Over time they grew the herd, now running around 400 registered Balancer cows and over 500 Gelbvieh influenced commercial cows. They have an extensive AI and embryo transfer program, using their own commercial cows as the recipient herd. The Warner's began selling bulls' private treaty in 1995 and held their first live sale in 2005. Now Warner Beef Genetics sells 120 to 130 young bulls at their annual sale the first Tuesday in March. They also have a fall female sale and have joined with two other producers; Andrea Murray from Oklahoma and Cedar Top Ranch of Nebraska, to hold the Red River Bull Sale in Texas during November, with the goal to increase demand for Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics in the southern part of the country.
Monte and his sons each have their own place, but help each other when needed. Dan handles the cattle side along with long time employee Cory Helms. Darren is the farmer of the family, growing the feed needed for the large herd along with row crops. They wean and background all the calves and sold for many years on the Superior video sale. This past fall they did sell private treaty with the goal to be able to follow the cattle all the way through the feeding and harvesting process to collect data.
"Balancer cattle work well across the United States; they adapt to and thrive in all environments, from the desert southwest to the mountains." Dan said. "We guarantee our cattle and most of our cows are 5th, 6th, and even 7th generation Balancers so they are consistent and uniform."
"My dad always said in agriculture if you aren't growing, you're dying." Dan said. "We need to stay steady and grow at the rate our customers demand. We reach out to market the number of cattle we sell and are now seeing breeders and ranchers coming to buy replacement females. I hope to be able to be a source for our bull customers' replacement female needs."
Dan has been very active in the American Gelbvieh Association, having served on the board and also as vice president of the executive committee. Currently he acts as the breed improvement committee chair.
Dan and Kate were honored as the AGA Breeder of the year for 2018 during the awards banquet held at the 48th annual AGA National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. They were honored because of the contribution Warner Beef Genetics has made to the breed, both in Genomics and in DNA technology to improve data collections. "We were honored to be selected by our peers." Dan said.
Always looking to grow and improve Balancer genetics, Dan and Kate have created TransPacific Genetics. They partnered with Australian breeders to offer quality Balancer Genetics to producers in that country.
Sale cattle and contact information can be found on Facebook at Warner Beef Genetics and also on their website http://www.warnerbeef.com. They welcome calls and visits, always eager to share their cattle with producers.