Even though a late February blizzard kept two teenagers from traveling to the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic to show their cattle, a herdsman representing the Jensen Brothers Herefords of Courtland, Kan., proudly brought home a Championship cattle title for the family.
“The winter storm kept us here in Kansas. We had too much to keep going, to get up there,” relayed Kevin Jensen, owner of Jensen Brothers Herefords. Jensen and his wife Sheila had planned to take their kids; 20-year-old Brady, 17-year-old Brooke, and Ben,13, to the renowned livestock event in Kearney, Neb. They’re all involved in the family business.
“The weather wouldn’t allow any of our family to go, since we’re starting to calve, and all the kids help out here at the ranch,” explained Jensen.
So, he sent their herdsman, Eddie Sandberg, who excitedly showed their bull which earned the title, “Grand Champion Horned Hereford Bull” Wednesday, February 20.
Taking home the prize bull was Lot 6, KJ 274S Benson 617Y, consigned by Jensen Brothers of Courtland, Kan. This bull is a 09/29/2011 son of KJ 380L Benson 661U and he sold to Alan Lawson of Agenda, Kan., for $4,700.
“The bull is worth more, but the weather was so terrible that hardly anyone was there at that time,” said Jensen, adding, “It was a buyer’s market this year. But, we like to support the sales so that they keep going. Young people starting out need that to help them get going in the business.”
Jensen notes that his family usually goes to the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic.
“We typically do pretty well in Nebraska. We’ve had Champion Hereford; polled or horned for several years, but we’ve had
Champion overall breeds; Supreme Champion twice up there in Nebraska,” Jensen commented.
Earlier this year, the Jensen family took home the title of National Grand Champion Horned Hereford Female, at the National Western stock show in Denver, Colo., in January.
“That was kind of a thrill, because that’s not something you do everyday,” acknowledged Jensen.
Kevin and Sheila Jensen, who run 300 cows, throw whole-hearted support behind Brady, Brooke and Ben.
“I’m just the dad. Jensen Brothers Ranch won this,” said Kevin Jensen.
And about Eddie Sandberg ...
“He’s our herdsmen. He graduated with an animal science degree from Kansas State University about 10 years ago, and he helped us while he was in school. He’s fulltime, and he’s starting a Simental herd while he’s working. We want to keep him and couldn’t pay him for what he’s educated for, so he’s starting a herd, and we’re trying to help him,” Jensen explained.
Interestingly, Jensen’s son Brady is taking the same career path. Brady is a sophomore at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan., and will be going to Kansas State University next year.
“I don’t think you ever get done helping your kids. Brady is also developing a herd,” Jensen said.
Keeping up with the size of their herd, depends on the year and the weather.
“There’s less grass this year, so we have a bit less. Primarily Hereford, and we raise both horned and polled. We have a commercial herd included in those 300, which are used primarily to raise embryo transplant calves. About 70 percent of them get pregnant, or hopefully they’ll have their own calf,” said Jensen.
Jensen, meanwhile is also focused on trying to find enough pasture for this summer.
“It’s expensive and tough to buy it now, and also hard to rent,” said Jensen. “We’re short pasture for about 80 cows this summer, which could change. Otherwise, we may have to sell some cows.”
Another concern for Jensen and other farmers and ranchers is the high price of grain worldwide.
“It’s got anybody in agriculture in dire straits, and the feed costs have literally tripled. Corn is $7.00 or $8.00 and it wasn’t very many years ago that corn was $2.00 a bushel,” noted Jensen.
Meanwhile, Jensen Brothers Herefords are propelling forward with a solid foundation and over 50 years of experience. Jensen himself, began his cattle showing career, back in the late 1960s when he first entered 4-H.
“I was 8-years-old as a 4-Her at the North Central Kansas Free Fair in Belleville, Kan. We have a really good county fair because we have a lot of heritage and history in the area, and our fair is a lot better than most,” shared Jensen. That was an important start. The rest, as they say, is literally-history.
“When I was in my 20s and 30s, we didn’t have any ground here when we started. So, what we did, was try to purchase some land, and we showed cattle for other people, including a member of the Sawyer Brown Band, and others too. We’d bring their cattle to livestock shows. But I’m 53-years-old now and too old to do that, since it’s a lot of hard labor,” said Jensen.
“That’s how we made ends meet, and got to meet a lot of people,” said Jensen.
It was also the beginning of an international career in livestock showing. Last year, at a Jensen Brothers livestock sale, they sent cattle to 28 states and two Canadian provinces.
“We’ve sold live cattle to South America, and semen interests into Australia,” said Jensen.
He won’t however, forget small beginnings.