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Kansas Angus Tour Welcomes Convention Participants

Kansas herds, association open their gates for preconvention tour.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Nov. 2, 2015) — A cloudless sky and 73° F day accommodated the Kansas Angus Tour Nov. 2, 2015. Tour participants from all stages of life and from across the United States, South America, Canada and even South Africa gathered in Overland Park, Kan., to spend their day viewing Angus cattle.

Mill Brae Ranch

The first tour stop, Mill Brae Ranch of Maple Hill, Kan., welcomed around 204 Angus enthusiasts. As they filed off tour buses, participants were greeted with the smell of cowboy coffee warmed over a rustic, open fire and enough muffins to feed a crowd.

Mark Nikkel, managing partner of Mill Brae Ranch, received his guests with a general overview of the ranch.

“We’re situated here in the Flinthills, which is a tall-grass prairie, some of the last left in North America,” he said. “Unique to this area would be we actually burn the range in mid-April, then we turn out around the first of May. We run about 400 registered-Angus cows, as well as several hundred commercial cows.”

The ranch calves from January through February and weans in August and September. Since 1995 the ranch’s annual production sale has been the second Saturday in March. New this year is an online female sale that was open during the National Angus Convention.

Mill Brae’s main breeding emphasis is creating low-birth, high-growth animals.

“Most of our customers sell calves for feeders, and they want a calf that comes easy and grows fast,” Nikkel explained.

Guest displays at Mill Brae Ranch included Alcove Ranch, Blue Rapids, Kan.; Cline Cattle Co., Onaga, Kan.; the Kansas State University Purebred Beef Teaching Unit, Mill Creek Ranch, northern Flint Hills of Kansas; and Sunflower Genetics LLC, Maple Hill, Kan.

May-Way Farms

Baldwin City, Kan., home of May-Way Farms Inc. enticed tour participants with sizzling Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand ribeyes and apple pie for lunch at the second tour stop.

Located in a more urban setting, May-Way is a 300-head registered-Angus operation and crop farm, said Jason Flory, owner. Calving season is split between the spring and fall. The ranch hosts a production sale every march and is purely a family-run business. First getting their start in the show cattle business, the Flory family has now been in the Angus business 15 years.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to network with fellow breeders. I mean, I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t jump at the chance if it was offered to them,” said Flory of hosting a stop on the Kansas Angus Tour.

Taking a unique spin on cattle displays, May-Way converted a baseball diamond near the farm’s equipment barn into a made-for-cattle marketplace, complete with livestock trailers that unfolded into holding pens.

Guest displays at May-Way comprised New Haven Angus, Leavenworth, Kan.; Bar S Ranch, Paradise, Kan.; and April Valley Farms of Leavenworth.

Chair Rock

The concluding stop landed tour goers at Chair Rock, Greeley, Kan. Tasty cookies and cold drinks were a welcome sight as the unseasonably warm afternoon sun bore down.

Bill Kline, founder of Chair Rock, met his Angus guests with a quick introduction to his operation. Carr Kline, Bill's son, has now taken an active role on the exclusive artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET) program.

“We are trying to breed better genetics for the commercial cattleman, said Carr. We run approximately 500 head of cows on 3,000 acres. We have a recipient herd and registered-Angus herd.”

Since cattle at Chair Rock are all AI-bred, they calve in three-week cycles starting Feb. 1 for the spring herd and Aug. 1 for the fall herd.

In cooperation with Gardiner Angus Ranch of Ashland, Kan., all breeding decisions at Chair Rock are discussed with Mark Gardiner, but the relationship doesn’t end there.

“Gardiner Angus Ranch has helped us in that they market all of our bulls. We send them out there in the spring and the fall. Through that our bulls have to compete with their bulls and other cooperative bulls for a chance to make the spring sale and just to get sold private treaty,” noted Carr.

After introductions were made, the tour group split as cattle managers and husband and wife Terry and Shandi Andres entertained breeding and management questions on a walking tour of the entire breeding facility. Thanks to their working knowledge of the day-to-day operations at Chair Rock, participants learned the organizational and time-management skills required for intensive AI and ET programs.

With that, Kansas Angus Tour participants clambered back on their buses after a day of good food, nice cattle and plenty of networking amongst each other.

Tour participant and Amarillo, Texas Angus producer, Kelly Giles, said of his experience, “The Kansas Angus Tour is really a meeting of great minds within the Angus industry. The Midwest, lower Midwest, rolling plains country has some of the best genetics in the world. A lot of people watch what the breeders are doing in this area because there are so many high-powered breeders.

“We can come, and we can learn and exchange ideas. It’s that networking opportunity of being able to meet these folks who make their living doing this. These people make their living in Angus genetics,” he stated.

Editor's note: This article was written under contract or by staff of the Angus Journal. Please direct reprint requests to Editor Shauna Hermel at 816-383-5200.