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Thriving Through Trials | January 2024

By Cheryl Kepes

Photos courtesy Rohr family


Lazy H Ranch Kansas leans on diversification and relationships for current and future success.



In recent years, Lazy H Ranch Kansas located in Hays, Kan., has endured damaging windstorms, devastating wildfires, and extensive droughts. Yet, despite the trials and temporary setbacks the registered Angus operation continues to thrive.


Mark Rohr, owner of Lazy H Ranch Kansas, works to produce, develop, and market registered Angus bulls and females. He also partners with his father, Maurice Rohr, owner of Smoky Hill Charolais Farm, to raise high-quality Charolais genetics. Together they have created a powerhouse of genetics primarily focused on producing herd sires that will bring profitability to commercial cattle producers.



History

Maurice Rohr started the Charolais operation in northwestern Kansas, in 1961, making him one of the pioneers in the Charolais industry. After college, Mark returned to the cattle operation bringing his expertise to the program.


In 1998, Mark added Angus genetics with an emphasis on producing bulls for commercial cattle producers. The Angus genetics came to Kansas through Mark’s brother, Mitch Rohr, who was operating The Lazy H Ranch in Larkspur, Colo.



Current Operation

Lazy H Ranch Kansas (LHR) and Smoky Hill Charolais Farm (SHCF) sell more than 150 bulls a year. Customers purchase bulls private treaty or through the operation’s annual spring production sale. The Rohrs catalog about 125 Angus bulls and 25 Charolais bulls for their online sale. This March marks the 22nd annual production sale for the Rohrs.


Through the years the family has created a demand for its Angus and Charolais genetics. The Angus side of the business has grown exponentially through Mark’s leadership. A majority of the cow herd and all of LHR’s registered cattle are Angus.


The Rohrs run about 200 Angus and 50 Charolais momma cows. In addition, they operate a large embryo transplant program. They implant as many as 250 embryos in cooperator herds each year.


Currently, the operation’s cattle numbers are down by 100 head due to a wildfire as well as drought. “In October 2022 we had cattle in a fire, then the drought from 2022 to 2023 caused us to cut numbers way back. That has been a little bit of a damper,” Mark shared.



Benefits of Diversifying

The headquarters for LHR and SHCF in Kansas is situated on the 200-acre home ranch established by Maurice in 1961. The size of the cattle herd requires the Rohrs to find additional avenues for managing the operation. LHR utilizes cattle partnerships, land leases, and extensive embryo transplant to diversify its business.


Mark credits the diversity of his operation for keeping the ranch viable in difficult circumstances. When the October 2022 wildfire struck it wiped out half of LHR’s spring calvers, about 40 head. “In the fire, we lost genetics but at the same time because we utilize a significant amount of embryo transplant, we were not hurt like most people would be hurt. We are fortunate to have a good size embryo program,” Mark explained.


Similarly, when water spickets ran dry and the recent drought forced some cattle operations out of business, LHR leaned on its partners in other states. “When you have partnerships like I have in Missouri, due to the drought we were able to truck cattle back to Missouri and I was able to utilize pasture there this past summer to help us through the drought or otherwise I would have had to sell even more head,” Mark said.



Clear Mission

A clear mission serves as the driving force for the cattle operation. Following the advice of his father and other mentors, Mark guides his management decisions by constantly thinking about what will help his customers make the most money. “Keeping your customer profitable, not just happy, not just satisfied, but profitable is probably the key to any operation,” Mark stated.


Additionally, no matter the current trends in the industry, LHR resolves to keep certain traits in check. Through the decades of raising registered Charolais and Angus herd sires, the focus has never wavered from striving for strong carcass traits.


“I always call it pounds in the pasture, because a lot of our customers are going to take the animals to town at weaning or sell them on Superior. They are not going to develop them. They are going to send them on to the next step in the process,” Mark explained. “So, we want our animals to be profitable for them. But more importantly, we want the guys that they are selling to, to keep coming back to them every year. To do that we have to keep the carcass in them because those guys are feeding them, harvesting them, and they are going on the grid.”


Mark makes customer herd visits to help him determine what improvements he needs to implement to his program to produce herd sires that will increase his customers’ profitability. Additionally, Mark works with his bull customers to develop strategies that will improve their herds and help them reach their goal of producing a high-quality meat end product.



Maternal Genetics

LHR utilizes an intensive embryo transfer program, flushing about six Angus donor females and two Charolais donor females each year. Though the Rohrs raise a majority of their own replacement heifers, they seek new donor females for the operation from time to time. In some circumstances, Mark partners with other producers on high-dollar industry leading donor females.


LHR looks for outcross genetics to infuse into the herd through its embryo transfer program, this practice produces fresh genetics, especially for longtime bull customers. “If there is something out there that we need to add to our circuit to help our customers we are going to do it. I don’t want to lose a bull customer due to genetics,” Mark added.


During its annual production sale, LHR includes 40 to 50 females. Throughout the year, the operation markets show heifers through private treaty at the ranch or in online sales.



Bull Development

The acreage limitation at the home ranch requires the Rohrs to utilize cooperator herds and other business partnerships for the day-to-day care for part of the cow herd. At the ranch headquarters, the primary focus of operation is bull development. “Once they get weaned those cattle come back here and they get developed here. They are under our lock and key until they find their new owner,” Mark stated.


Mark wants to keep a watchful eye on the bulls as they develop. The day-to-day interaction gives him the opportunity to ensure the bulls are docile, phenotypically sound, and healthy. The bulls receive a mixed dry ration of hay and feedstuffs, plus a supplement product developed by BioZyme and VitaFerm.


In 2015, Mark accepted an offer by VitaFerm to act as a dealership for its products. While running the cattle operation, Mark also manages a VitaFerm dealership. His relationship with VitaFerm gives him the opportunity to provide VitaFerm mineral and products to his cattle customers at a wholesale price.


This opens the doors of communication between Mark and his cattle customers on a regular basis, not just when it is time to sell bulls. Additionally, Mark finds gratification in the fact the bulls from his operation and their offspring are receiving the health benefits of the supplements.



Blessings of Mentorship

When Mark assesses all the reasons for his ranch’s success, first and foremost he attributes his accomplishments to the guidance from his father, Maurice, and to the mentorship from Bill Rishel of Rishel Angus in North Platte, Neb., and Jim Brinkley, a member of the American Angus Association Board of Directors and owner of Brinkley Angus Ranch in Milan, Mo.


“The knowledge that those VIPs, who I have had in my corner, has allowed me to have the knowledge today that I am blessed with,” Mark shared. “They are a phone call away and have taught me a lot. I was fortunate to have that opportunity and receive that knowledge.”


Mark also holds a heartfelt gratitude for his friends in the cattle industry. He experienced firsthand the selfless acts of service offered by fellow cattle producers when difficulties struck. “If you didn’t know this before the fires, the droughts, the storms - there are people who you meet and people you serve as far as customers in the ag industry that are the finest in the world,” Mark concluded.



22nd Annual Bull & Female Sale:

Sunday, March 3, 2024

1 pm CST - at the ranch, Hays, Kan.


learn more at www.lhrbulls.com

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