by Kerry Hoffschneider
In 1952, Alfred Schutte bought his first horned Hereford which was also his last because he purchased a polled bull at the same time. Since then, the Schuttes have raised a polled Hereford herd registered under the name Alfred Schutte and Sons.
S&S Polled Herefords of Guide Rock started with Alfred, his wife Hildred, and their two sons.
“My brother Allen was the farmer and I was the cattleman,” Ron Schutte said as he sat with his wife Nancy at their farmhouse near Guide Rock, Nebraska.
For more than 45 years, the Schutte Hereford herd has been closed to outside females, so the bulk of the cowherd traces to just a few original cow families. The family sold and continues to sell cattle to ranches in more than 37 states – from New York to California, Texas to North Dakota, and worldwide to Canada and Argentina. They run their cattle on about 2,200 acres which is half dryland farm ground and half primarily pastures consisting of Bluestem, Gamagrass, Western wheatgrass, and Switchgrass. At any given time, the Schuttes can run three generations of about 400 to 500 cattle on the ranch.
Schutte said his dad was both a progressive cattleman and progressive thinker regarding social issues.
“I had an amazing father. My brother Gary got spinal meningitis when he was two-and-a-half years old. His temperature got so high it cooked his brain and he became an invalid,” he said. “They opened a school in Hastings for handicapped children and dad got him into that school in the 1950s. Mom would take him and stay all day and dad bought an airplane and he flew Gary back and forth to school. Gary really bonded us together as a family.”
A close-knit family who gathered around each other and cattle, Schutte said in the 1950s, the family was honored to live amongst some of the most well-known Hereford herds in the country.
He added that quite a few people stopped at their place because they were in the area visiting the Kuhlman and Robinson Hereford ranches.
In the late 1950s, the Schuttes began taking cattle to consignment sales. Later on, they would start showing at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic — in fact, the family has not missed a sale since that event started in the early 1990s. Schutte said they have also won Champion Hereford a few times at the Classic as well.
“We have consigned at every sale at the Classic. We also take bulls up every year to promote our commercial bull program. Right now, we only sell 40 bulls a year or so,” Schutte said. “If I was a younger man, I would try and increase that, but I stay with that number and think people appreciate the time and attention we give to developing our bulls. The Classic has been beneficial because it gets us exposed to buyers that we would not have come across any other way.”
S&S Polled Herefords was also a stop on the World Hereford Conference tour when it was held in Fort Collins, Colorado, he recalled.
“People from all over the world stopped here when that event was held. It was very interesting, and we so enjoyed the people. Randy Owen, the lead singer from the music group Alabama was here that day and some people from South America were also there. I remember the people from South America asked Randy to take a picture of them,” Schutte said. “At first Randy told them ‘no’ because he thought they wanted to take the photo with him, but really, they had no idea who he was and just wanted him to take their picture. That was quite the moment.”
Ron and Nancy, who were high school sweethearts, had three girls – Melissa, Amy, and Nichole and a boy, Ben, who passed away in a car accident. All their children were involved with 4-H and showed cattle growing up. Their girls have since ventured on to start families and careers of their own.
Ron and Nancy have also welcomed a young neighbor couple from their area, Willie and Afton Alber and their children, into their Hereford endeavors.
For 47 years, the Schuttes have held their sale the first Tuesday in March, “I don’t even ask the auctioneer to come, he just shows up. We have our own sale barn on the farm too, so we don’t have to haul the cattle anywhere. This year, for the first time, we also genomically tested the bulls. We try and stay abreast of everything new to help serve our customers better.”
The Schuttes are also taking part in the new Aspiring Young Cattlemen program put on by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic. The program is for youth aspiring to build their own cow herd and to have a production sale of their own. It allows for youth to build a relationship with a cattle producer that raises registered cattle and markets their seed stock at the Classic.
“Ronette Bush-Heinrich, who has done a great job spearheading the Classic for many years, selected a young man from Gothenburg to receive my heifer that he bred artificially to one of my bulls,” Schutte explained. “He has since shown her at three different shows. He will bring her back as a bred heifer to the Classic this year and sell her and we will split the proceeds between us. It has been a very rewarding experience. A dinner was held where we were able to meet members of his family and he now has some interest in potentially starting a Hereford herd too. I tried to donate a good heifer with the hopes he would have success in the program.”
Overall, Schutte said he is thankful he and Nancy could raise their family on the ranch and hopes their efforts can continue.
“The future of the Hereford breed is better than it has been in my lifetime. We have been doing this long enough that we have been able to cull out a lot of the negative issues that can sometimes arise,” he concluded. “We are proud to be associated with the Hereford breed and will continue to be committed to these cattle as long as we can work with the customers we thoroughly enjoy.”
For more information about the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic and S&S Polled Herefords visit:BACK