Our Philosophy & Direction
In the simplest of description, our long-term goal is to bridge the divide in the Red Angus breed between correctly structured “phenotype” cattle with a disadvantage in the availability of genetic data and information,WITH the stereotypical U.S. Red Angus cow; genetic history and contemporaries of plenty, with a compromised foot structure that has simply been overlooked for far too many years.
In our extensive travels, we have seen herds of all different shapes and sizes, priorities and unimportance’s, trends and age-old beliefs. Many, not all, of the cattle that appear to be the most elite in the Red Angus database based off of EPD’s, are in actuality some of the poorest footed, worst structured cattle in the breed that have compromised longevity. We are led to believe it’s because decisions have been made in a swivel chair, and not in the middle of their cowherd. Breeders that have mated cows based on the Planned Mating calculator on the Red Angus website have looked past the visual appraisals that HAVE to take place. Top 1% doesn’t mean guaranteed to breed for 5 years. More times than not, their feet are genetically debilitating and you find them shuffling in when the cow herd is gathered in the fall because their toes have grown crossed and they’re in pain.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve found cattle that prove their longevity. Feet are not trimmed, cows live through their entire productive life and actually make you a greater return on that initial investment. BUT, if you were to look at their EPD’s on paper, you may find yourself saying, “Why would I breed to this cow-killing, nanny-goat performing creature with the marbling of a Belgian Blue?” In reality, these cattle calve, perform, and grade equal to or even better than the data-focused cattle that clearly display a strong advantage in their genetic profile. Our thought is, why would I buy a bull perceived to be in the Top 1% for the Herdbuilder Index, when his toes are mal-shaped and I’m going to have to worry about him breeding enough cows to keep me in business?
In closing, our goal is the crossover of these distinct sectors of the breed. Our cattle may never be Top 1% for a certain trait, but if they prove to have longevity and sire calves that guarantee the buyer gets a solid return on his investment, then that’s when we know we are headed down the correct path. We are following that path now; identifying and utilizing certain bulls or cows that we know provide enough problem-free longevity and profitability for a solid ROI. However, it takes time; lots of time to identify those individuals. And it’s our goal here at Niobrara Red Angus to be able to offer that kind to you.
Meet the Team
Jeff & Tami Keller – Owners of Niobrara Red Angus, grew up in Niobrara, Nebraska. In their years around home, they grew up on Tami’s families cattle ranch, Leader Angus Farm, helping to complete the day to day of ranch responsibilities. Years later, after college and law school and establishing residence in Lincoln, NE, the Keller’s knew they wanted a connection back to their roots; also wanting their three boys Sam, Jack and Ben to have a chance to be involved in agriculture. Thus, Niobrara Red Angus was established. Although they are not on-farm most business days, the effort and team they have developed, they feel is second to none.
Jacob Bathke – Ranch Manager, resides and oversees Niobrara Red Angus each day. Born and raised in Niobrara, he is the fourth generation to graduate from Niobrara High. He manages and oversees the daily operations of the ranch, and is responsible for their wellbeing. He says he owes most his cattle knowledge to Kent Snowdon, who got him started in the cattle industry about 15 years ago. Jacob graduated from Northeast Community College with am Associates Degree in Agronomy. He’s grateful for the opportunity to work for the Keller Family, and to be able to work with such high quality seedstock. He would also like to acknowledge and thank his brother Shane, and other friends and family that help him time to time throughout the year.
Kay Krivolavek – Office Manager, resides in Lincoln, NE with her three children Jada, Maddox & Greyson. She is originally from Niobrara, NE and grew up on her parent’s family farm just miles from Niobrara Red Angus. Growing up on a small family farm, in a beautiful part of the state, is where her passion for agriculture began. This passion has led her to pursue a career working with livestock as well as an agricultural-focused technology innovation company.
Garrett Knebel – Marketing Manager, resides in Bozeman, MT with his wife Katelyn. There they own and operate Storey Hereford Ranch & Harmony Hill, a progressive Hereford & Red Angus operation focused on seedstock for the commercial cow-calf operator. With a degree from Oklahoma State University, Garrett’s main responsibilities for Niobrara Red Angus include marketing, consulting, breeding, and seedstock selection. In his spare time, he travels the country visiting with fellow Red Angus breeders and judging livestock shows.
Sam Keller – Intern/Ranch Hand, Sam is the oldest of 3 Keller boys, Sam’s passion for cattle is part of the reason that Niobrara Red Angus was formed. After working on his grandfather’s Black Angus ranch every chance he could get growing up, Sam further pursued his ranching dreams through an internship at Six Mile Ranch, one of the leading Red Angus breeders, in Saskatchewan, Canada. Sam graduated from Lincoln Southwest High School in 2017 and plans to attend college in the fall to earn a degree in agriculture with hopes of returning to Niobrara Red Angus. Sam currently resides on the ranch and assists Jacob in the day to day activities of running the operation.