A Cut Above

It was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. 

A ranch established in the late 1800s, right on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, needed a young couple to take over the management.

So, Jason and Katie Jagels uprooted their lives in Davenport, Nebraska, and settled north in the eastern Sandhills of Brewster.


In 2021, Jason and Katie Jagels permanently moved their registered Angus herd to the eastern Nebraska Sandhills. 

The opportunity was no accident, though. Jason interned for the ranch’s owner, Dale Spencer, while in college. After graduating, he returned to his family’s row crop and commercial cow-calf operation in south-central Nebraska. Not long after, Jason was short in supply of grass and was able to summer cows in Spencer’s pastures. When Spencer was looking for a successor a few years later, he approached the Jagels with fulfilling the ranch’s legacy.

“It was an upheaval of our lives, but we knew that the cattle were happy here, and we knew that we loved this place,” Katie says of the decision to move. “We had to learn to lean on each other and love each other for where we are in life. Seeing our dream unfold and knowing we took those chances, and we did it together, is the most rewarding thing ever.”

“We knew that the cattle were happy here, and we knew that we loved this place.” – Katie Jagels


Growing up on a corn and soybean farm, Katie Jagel’s parents taught her to love the land and to leave it better for the next generation. “I think that these cattle are meant to be here, and I think we're meant to be here, and we're meant to watch over them,” she says.

Making the cut

Jason and Katie do it all, just the two of them. Almost two years into managing the ranch in Brewster, they are naturally growing into roles that mesh their strengths — Jason handles herd management and behind-the-scenes work, while Katie heads up customer service and marketing. 

Jason and Katie Jagels manage their ranch as a team — Jason takes care of behind-the-scenes work, and Katie focuses on marketing. “I'm always out here taking pictures, really wanting to share our life with others,” Katie says.

Katie works for Nebraska’s Rural Radio Network and, along with a degree in apparel marketing from Kansas State University, knows the importance of shining fresh light on their program to potential and returning customers. Her sense for marketing and Jason’s sense for the commercial rancher have paved the way for their successful annual bull offering deemed “The Cattlemen’s Cut.”

The opportunity to hold a production sale also stemmed from a working relationship of Jason’s. Back in Davenport, a recently graduated Jason purchased half of a cow herd from a rancher looking to retire. Starting in 2014, the two co-hosted a bull sale for three years before Jason took over completely. In 2021, The Cattlemen’s Cut moved to Brewster, with the ninth annual sale set for February 2023, offering more than 60 registered Angus bulls. 

“The background of The Cattleman's Cut is truly what the name is,” Katie explains. “Every day, we're looking for changes in our program. We're culling, we're pulling. And the offering that we bring to the sale is truly the cut of the best of our cattle.”

With a breed-for-balance philosophy, the Jagels manage their herd to mimic a commercial cow-calf operation. That way, animals are prepared to perform their best once they leave the ranch. 

“One of the biggest things I learned coming from a commercial cow-calf standpoint is the importance of balance and things we call convenience traits,” Jason says. “When you look at calving interval, flushing ability, udder scores, breed back — those are really what drive our bottom line. We want to run these cows like a commercial ranch would and keep them low input, and focus on an Angus female that can thrive in this environment.”

The Jagels raise cattle with low inputs, as commercial cow-calf producer would. This way, cattle still thrive once they leave the confines of the Nebraska Sandhills.

Jason describes how animals receive rations the same as a rancher feeding two pounds of cake and hay. This means no additives, no corn, no silage. “We want to make sure the product we produce is going to go out and work the same way our customers are demanding them to work,” he says.

“We want to make sure the product we produce is going to go out and work the same way our customers are demanding them to work.” – Jason Jagels

And in line with a low-input commercial operation, cattle pasture on a rotational grazing system. During a year with normal precipitation, a pasture is grazed once during the growing season and once during the dormant season.

“We always like to say that we're borrowing this land from the next generation,” Katie shares. “Being able to run cows on as minimum of products as we can is super important. I mean, this land is totally untouched. This is the way that, in my opinion, God left it for them.”

And, as their new adventure unfolds in Brewster and the cattle industry, they will keep learning from their predecessors while discovering new strategies.

“It's been a dream of ours to raise the best possible Angus cows that we know how,” Jason says. “Sometimes the hours are long, but at the end of the day it’s progress you can see. And when you get to share it with customers, neighbors and friends, you realize we’re all in this together. The rewards that come with this are second to none.”

“It's been a dream of ours to raise the best possible Angus cows that we know how.” – Jason Jagels

Cattle that make the cut for the Jagels’ “The Cattlemen’s Cut” bull sale are bred for balance. “We really pride ourselves on submitting good, honest cattle and standing behind them all year long,” Jason Jagels says.

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