An unanswered prayer led Dan Larson back to the ranch. He and his wife, Becky, left their dream life of horse training for a new challenge, creating the best Angus herd they could.
Economics and a newfound passion led to years of studying genetics and Angus magazine, where Larson Angus Ranch, Sharon Springs, Kan., now manages 800 cows. Since 2007, it has been the fifth generation on the land with the help of their son, Brady, and his wife, Kyla.
Cow work, genetic improvements and breeding plans are on the table for hours as creating the perfect cow requires constant adjustments. The Larsons take actions that bring their families and customers closer to “the best” every day.
“It’s one of those things you’re constantly building on,” Brady said. “You’ll never get the perfect animal, but you keep building on it and building on it and building on it.”
Their determined journey toward challenging excellence helped Larson Angus Ranch win the Certified Angus Beef 2022 Seedstock Commitment to Excellence award, presented Sept. 22 at the brand’s Annual Conference in Phoenix.
Spanning rugged, rocky terrain along Ladder Creek, the ranch fills a niche next to farm country.
“We’re turning non-arable grass pastures into a high-quality protein source,” says Dan. “We can count on our Angus cows in this area. They have been working for us for 10-12 years and are raising very strong calves.”
The Larsons like medium-sized cows with medium milk, good udders, calving ease and sound legs for travel. Productivity and carcass merit are not discussed.
In 1989, they switched to artificial insemination and a few years later began using embryo transfer (ET). This inspired Brady to purchase a custom AI through ABS Global to keep him even more busy during the breeding season.
This year they laid 150 embryos and as usual gave the cows a chance with timed AI. Whatever doesn’t stick gets another chance with the participation bull.
“We don’t do it on a large scale compared to other people,” Dan said, but ET works on most of the 100 bulls they sell each March. “It really helps us speed up genetic development.”
The Larsons have the same priorities as their customers. Only the best bulls go to the yearling sale and the best heifers are replacements, with the other 600 heifers finished in their feedlots and marketed through USA Premium Beef.
“Our customer base is not just selling calves at weaning, although some do,” Brady said. “We have a lot of customers who come to us because they want to put their cattle on the grid and make some extra money.”
“Our goal was to have 100% selectivity, and we achieved that years ago,” Dan said. “Then we worked for 100% CAB and achieved this goal. We now feed cattle groups of approximately 80% Prime and 64% fed.
Brady added that hitting the mark means cattle excel in all EPDs and look good doing it. Dancing between the relevant features is a balancing act.
Brady and Kyla hope to pass that mindset on to their four children, conserving and improving the water, grass and livestock so that they get better every day.
Whether it’s a Ranger ride to check cows, water, or turn off minerals, kids learn by example.
“Sometimes I wonder how far we would have gone if farming had been my plan A,” Dan said. His eyes are always on the future, looking for better ways. With their family and this outlook, they will continue to do their best.
Watch the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH76utkHSXI.