Published On: Wed, Feb 20th, 2013

Local man awarded “Cattleman of the Year”

WAUSA — A Bloomfield man was awarded “Cattleman of the Year” at the annual Knox County Cattlemen’s Banquet on Feb. 16.

Jim Herzog,was born in Lincoln on Aug. 1, 1947 and has spent most of his life in Bloomfield working at the feedlots, though it has changed a great deal.

“As I walked that feed lot once and awhile, I think back about how much has changed in the last 50 some years since I’ve been feeding cattle from the time I went out with a five-gallon bucket on a stationary wagon with a couple of wood feed bunks on either side of it to what we do now,” Herzog said.

Following his graduation from Bloomfield country school in 1965, Herzog went to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with plans to return and take over the business started by his great grandfather, T. G. Reetz.

He majored in agriculture and graduated four years later from UNL in 1969. After college, Jim enlisted in the Army. While serving, Jim met his future wife, Vicki.

“And about that time, as it usually happens, he met his special love, which is ironic as they were born only 18 days apart in the same hospital,” said Jim Ramm, president of Nebraska Cattleman, during his introduction of Herzog.

After marriage, they traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Riley, Kansas. Eventually they returned home to work at the family business. He partnered with his dad starting in the early 1970s and the business became known as H & H Cattle Co.

The couple would take over when Jim’s father retired. For the last 41 years, then, Jim and Vicki have grown their operation.

They have erected new buildings and made repairs to the existing ones, which turned out be beneficial to their company. The company currently employs seven full-time and two-part time employees as well as a few high school students.

Jim got up and talked about the “olden days” and reminisced about how different the cattle business is today.

About the time he started, cattle cost 18 cents a pound and was charged no commiss-ion, which was the first and last time that happened. Jim sold them for 26 cents, so each one brought in $250 a head.

Times have changed though, cattle prices and the way business is done, mostly due to technology and the fast-paced world, Jim said. Though it is not as fun as it used to be, accord-ing to him, he still enjoys the work.

“I enjoy buying young, feeder cattle and taking care of them, feeding them, and keep-ing them healthy, then selling them at market,” he said. “I like the crop end of it, too.”

One of the challenge in the feedlot business is making sure to be a good risk manager because the market is much more volatile than in the past. Good risk management is what keeps you in business, according to Jim.

Jim also thanked the crew, noting how they get a lot of work done and they are hard workers and dedicated to their jobs. As for his role, Jim said he is the “hawk.”

“I circle around looking at stuff,” he joked. “Once and awhile they ask me my opinion. I don’t know if they are going to take it or not.”

Finally, Jim thanked his wife Vicki for keeping the business’s books and for making suggestions to help improve the business over the years. He said she has been an instrumental part of keeping H & H Cattle Co. going.