Korty Land & Cattle of Paxton, Nebraska
Marcellus and Phyllis Schulz began in 1944 what would become Korty Land & Cattle with 563 acres of land, 10 milk cows, 100 baby chickens, and a bank loan to purchase feed, equipment, and 30 head of steers. The cattle were fed with a small wagon and a scoop shovel in those days. Marcellus competently guided those early years of the operation with the help of his wife and their four children; Sharon, Calvin, Dennis, and Marcia. With the additional help of dedicated employees, this family enterprise has grown into the present farming, ranching, cattle feeding, and land improvement business that it is, which provides a good living for many families while conserving natural resources.
In the early 1950’s, Marcellus started building a cow herd with 50 Angus cows and two bulls. Their summer pasture then consisted of a half section of grassland, one windmill, and one large bottomless tank. In 1963, Marcellus and Phyllis organized the small family operation into a corporation named after the Union Pacific Railroad town of “Korty”, which was across the road from where they lived. Calvin returned from college in 1969 and Dennis in 1971 to rejoin the operation. In 1973, Bill Finch began working for the Schulz family, who were his neighbors. The Schulz brothers formed a partnership for their farming operation in 1977, and then Bill and Vina Finch joined the farming operation in 1994, which created the company “Schulz-Finch”. “Korty Land Improvement” began in 1983 with a dump truck, scraper, loader, dozer, backhoe, and two employees, and has grown since then. Marcellus contributed his abilities to the family business until his death in 1987.
In 1984, Korty Land & Cattle implemented a high intensity, short duration grazing system. Having plenty of fresh water is essential for such a grazing rotation to be successful. To accomplish this, 12 new livestock water wells were drilled and electric submersible pumps were installed. Portable generators were used where electrical lines were not economically feasible for such a well. A total of 7,733 feet of underground 2-inch water pipeline was installed and is maintained either by gravity or by a pressure system. Eighteen new livestock water tanks have been added, which provide two and sometimes three water sources in each pasture. The multiple water sources have given Korty Land & Cattle the ability to achieve better livestock distribution, especially on their more hilly pastures.
Korty’s have added 35,774 feet of standard and electric fence to divide their rangeland into smaller, more manageable pastures. Most of the division fence installed is more cost-effective electric fence material. As with additional water sources, this fencing effort has allowed for more uniform grazing of the pastures. Cattle are forced to graze virtually all the plants and not just the most desirable ones. This contributes to better range condition by improving plant vigor of desirable plants, which can then better compete with less desirable plants. Another improvement by Korty’s is the planting of appropriate grasses on irrigated sites. The amount of available forage has almost doubled due to the lasting benefits of the grassland improvements made over the years. As a result, the cow herd has now grown to more than 700 head.
In addition to the important grassland management practices for which they are being recognized, Korty’s have been instrumental in building 35 dams to control the damaging effects of runoff on their land and adjacent lands. They also began planting what now has become 35,000 trees and shrubs for livestock windbreaks and wildlife habitat on their land and neighbor’s land. Their investment in drip systems and weed barrier has helped those plantings reach their useful size more quickly. As they interact with and assist area producers, Korty Land & Cattle has been a tireless promoter of the importance of effective grazing management, livestock windbreaks, and the need to control invasive weeds.
Korty Land & Cattle has been an active member of the Society for Range Management since 1974. Cal attended the week-long Nebraska Range Short Course in 1982 at Chadron State College. Since that time, Korty employees Lyle Foight, Doyle Duggan, and Kim Duggan have also taken the course. In 1987, Cal gave a presentation on “High Intensity, Short Duration Grazing” at the Nebraska SRM annual meeting in Kearney. He has also attended and served as host of several range management tours, including one at the Thalken Ranch this year. Korty’s and the Ogallala USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service staff assisted Darrell Thalken in setting up the grazing system at Thalken’s.
The transformation of their portion of the Keith County landscape has not only provided better forage for livestock, but also stabilized the watersheds to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. These important changes brought about by Korty Land & Cattle can be attributed to their commitment to proper grazing management, and their strong overall conservation ethic.