The Hoffmans of Nebraska see their winning ways in the show ring as part of a plan to reach commercial customers
DENVER, Colo. — The folks at Hoffman Ranch might have won numerous grand championships at the top-ranked National Western Stock Show here, but that doesn’t mean they consider themselves showmen.
The family run operation at Thedford, Nebraska, considers these national events as a way to promote their Hereford-Angus operation, where they raise about 750 registered cows in the Sand Hills region.
“We show cattle but we don’t breed show cattle,” said Jason Hoffman.
“We don’t do a lot of showing. We sell a lot of cattle that get shown and we usually go to the Hereford and Angus junior national shows. We sell a lot of heifers that go there and our main showcase is here at Denver,” he said.
“We do pretty good,” he said.
Working with a large crew of 15, Hoffmans brought 23 head to this year’s show held in Denver from Jan. 6-21.
“You’ve got to have the right cattle and you’ve got to have the right crew. You’ve got to have a crew that believes in the cattle you are raising so you have to surround yourself with good people,” Jason said.
Their lone Angus entry was winter bull calf champion. They also won reserve overall with a polled Hereford calf named H Sensation 7454 ET coming out of the spring bull calf division. They won reserve senior bull with H WR Sustainable 5511 ET and grand champion carload of bulls.
Sustainable was sold to Rocking G Land and Cattle Company of Gull Lake, Sask., after last year’s Denver show. It went on to become grand champion Hereford at last year’s Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, which earned them a place at the Supreme champion competition.
The Hoffman family was also a partner in the Agribition grand champion Angus female and the grand champion Hereford female from Rocking G was sired by Sustainable.
Most of the Hoffmans’ time is devoted to running the ranch in Nebraska.
Owned and operated with Jason’s parents, Dennis and Dixie Hoffman, the main focus of the ranch is working with commercial beef producers.
Each year they offer about 400 horned and polled Herefords, Angus and Simmental-Angus cross bulls at an annual spring sale. They also host a fall female sale and sell by private treaty and on the internet.
Dennis Hoffman started his cattle producer career as a 4-H member in 1957. He worked for some large purebred operations before starting his own business.
In 1995, he and his wife bought a place in California. She was a teacher and he managed a county fair while they built up their herd.
The entire family moved to Nebraska in 2008 where considerable expansion took place. Angus were added to offer their bull buyers more choice.
“We got really serious about seven years ago. A lot of our customer base uses Hereford and Angus bulls,” Jason said.
“We believe in black baldie cows,” he said.
They also like to offer variety to customers so bulls ranging from yearlings to two year olds with different body frames are available. Their cattle are sold across the continent and they want them to thrive in all kinds of conditions.
“You have got to make them work for the commercial guy because that is our bread and butter. You have got to have cattle that perform at all levels,” he said.
Commercial buyers can be discerning.
“A lot of them are looking for calving ease because they go on heifers but our commercial customers can really evaluate cattle. They have to be able to stand on their feet and legs and be easy feeding,” he said.
In addition, they flush about 50 donor cows and place 500 to 600 embryos each year. About half of those embryos are placed in cows owned by co-operating operations and then they buy the bulls back.
They also work with co-operators to market commercial heifers.
Jason and his wife, Kaycee, have three children younger than seven, who are being encouraged to take on the cattle lifestyle.
Kaycee’s family has shown cattle at the Denver stock show for more than 100 years.
She also owns and operates Bar None Hat Company, which makes custom-made cowboy hats.
The couple are working toward keeping the ranch sustainable for their children and hope to teach them the ropes.
Their seven-year-old son is attending his first junior national Hereford show this summer.
“I want them to learn to work hard doing this, and whatever they decide to do, they can do, but they need to learn how to work hard,” Jason said.