A Commitment To Excellence
Published on Mon, 02/06/2023 - 2:15pm
A Commitment To Excellence.
By Maura Keller.
The long-standing family legacy of ranching is the backbone of the Larson Angus Ranch in Sharon Springs, Kansas. Today, Dan Larson, along with his wife, Becky and son, Brady, work with their team to manage this ever-growing ranch with a level of excellence that has earned the Larson Angus Ranch accolades aplenty. In fact, in 2022, the ranch was awarded the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) 2022 Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award.
Dan Larson understands what it takes to operate a successful ranch, having been raised on the ranch where he still resides. In addition his father, (Floyd), also was raised on the same land and spent his entire life farming and running a successful commercial cow operation.
It was at a college-level horse production program where Dan and Becky first met. Married in 1977, the couple moved back to the family farm where Dan helped raise and breed horses, along while working for his dad. At the same time, Becky took a job driving a feed truck at a nearby feed yard for several years until the couple started a family. In addition to working on the family ranch, Dan also took a job at the feed yard working his way up to assistant manager. Realizing horses are very labor intensive, they decided to put more effort into the ranch’s cow herd, buying their first registered cows in 1988 and utilizing AI to make genetic improvements. When the family’s cowherd got too large to manage with full-time jobs, Dan and Becky gave up their feed yard work to focus their attention solely on the success and growth of the ranch. This tenacity for excellence has paid off. Today, the ranch is known for its top-end genetics and its leading Angus feeder calf program.
The multigenerational Larson family continues to embrace “all things agriculture” at every turn.
“We have always been a family operation. We have four sons and they also follow their own passions,” says Becky Larson. “Beau, our oldest son, is our farm manager and has farmland of his own. Twins Bret and Brady each have their own businesses. Bret offers haying and silage chopping services while Brady and wife Kyla have their own cow herd and are the most involved in our operation as far as our bull sale and recording keeping on cows. Brady is also an ABS representative. Bart, our youngest son, has a commercial spraying operation and farming operation and also is part of the silage chopping business with his brother, Bret. Every one of them lives within 10 miles of us.”
One area of ranching that Dan has focused extensively on is genetics, spending every spare minute studying cow and bull genetics, as well as data on the ranch’s own herd. The Larson Angus Ranch also has its own small feed yard and feed all their own calves that don’t meet Dan’s criteria for replacement females and bulls for the ranch’s annual sale.
“Our Top-End genetics thrive in all sectors of the cattle industry. This is what we strive for in every mating decision,” says Brady Larson. “Our goal from the beginning has been selection for cattle with high fertility that can thrive in a harsh environment, yet garner big premiums at harvest.”
The Larson Angus Ranch is in a unique part of the country where they need to focus on traits that other areas of the country don’t. For instance, PAP (Pulmonary Arterial Pressure) which is a form of heart failure due to elevation is an area of focus for the Larson ranch.
“We’re at about 3,500 feet in elevation, but see issues with the condition where lower elevations will not,” Brady says. “What we believe differentiates our program is we strive to make cattle that do it all from fertility to the end product, but we make our cowherd perform in a real world ranching environment just like the commercial cattleman.”
In addition, the Larson Angus Ranch is a founding member of U.S. Premium beef and ship those calves to them on a grid. “When you get performance data back on those cattle it can be helpful in determining your next genetic step,” Becky says. “We realized early on that consumers want high-quality, consistent products and are willing to pay for it. So our program is based on just that…high quality. It is a balancing act at times because we won’t sacrifice other traits such as feet, udder quality, etc. We currently have been shipping an average of 80% primes. There can be a difference in carcass values of $600 per carcass between a select and prime. We aim for the prime!”
As mentioned, the ranch was nominated, and ultimately awarded, the prestigious CAB Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award by U.S. Premium Beef. The 2022 CAB Seedstock Producer of the year award is a commitment to raising genetics for customers that exceed CAB specifications and perform on the rail.
“We started raising Angus cattle in 1988, so it’s taken us 34 years of consistent selection pressure to earn this honor,” Brady says. “Over the years, we’ve marketed our home raised feeder cattle that we didn’t keep for bulls or replacement heifers. The carcass data we’ve gotten back from the plant gets better every year. In 2022, we had pens do as well as 80% Prime.”
Becky adds that the family is assuming they were nominated because of our continued effort to bring to the consumer the highest quality beef they produce. “We were very humbled by this nomination as there are a lot of seedstock producers also deserving,” Becky says.
Today, the team at the Larson Angus Ranch are putting a lot effort into its Maternal Plus program, which is orchestrated through the American Angus Association. As part of this program, the Larsons compile and report all of the data on each animal to provide insight into each animal’s performance.
As Brady explains, the Maternal Plus Program is a commitment to voluntary whole herd reporting where they are required to report every calf born. If a cow didn’t have a calf, they specify why it didn’t.
“This program helps us really focus on the cows that perform well every year and helps identify the cows that do not,” Brady says.
In addition, the ranch’s Top Dollar Angus Calf Feeder Program allows seedstock suppliers who participate in the partnership program to incorporate the Top Dollar Angus logo into their sale catalogs, identifying each bull or female that meets the required genetic specifications, including top 25% growth and carcass traits. Brady points out that the Top Dollar Angus is a program that certifies certain bulls in the Larson Angus Ranch program that exceed specifications for carcass and performance traits.
“If a bull customer is interested in Top Dollar Angus bidding on their calves, they need to buy Top Dollar Angus certified bulls. Roughly 95% of the bulls in our sale have been Top Dollar Angus Certified,” Brady says.
So what does the future hold for the Larson Angus Ranch? Quite simply the family is focused on continuing to grow and refine their operations and providing the “best of the best” Top Dollar Angus cattle.
“We have 12 grandchildren,” Becky says. “So we are hopeful some of them will continue with the operation, the farming and the cows.”
For more information about Larson Angus Ranch, including their upcoming annual production sale, visit www.larsonangusranch.com.
In the Numbers
The Larson Angus Ranch has shown its true potential through its long-standing history and commitment to the industry.
• 1998: Began raising registered cattle
• 2000: Developed an embryo transfer program
• 600+ registered Angus cows
• 18 annual production sales