Carswell – Nichols Herefords has long been a family run operation, getting its start in 1928 when John T. Paynter and Jay L. Carswell started a registered horned Hereford herd along with their commercial cattle. After the death of John Paynter in 1933, it was changed to the Jay L. Carswell Herefords. In the 30’s Jay disposed of the commercial cattle and raised strictly registered horned Herefords. In 1940 the name was changed to Jay L. Carswell and sons, which included Harold, Bill, Deryl, and Gayle, who each had their own cattle. Jay’s wife, Jennie (Paynter) was very much involved with the Herefords and kept the records.
In 1950, Harold and Pat were married. At this time they took out their own membership with the American Hereford Association. Harold’s personal cowherd started in 1935 when he purchased a heifer for a 4-H project for $45.00 from his Dad. The heifer was by Perfect Stanway and raised nine calves for him. The first bull sold for $95.00. In 1950 they purchased their farm 2 miles east and 3 miles north of Alton, which has always been headquarters. Harold and Pat raised twin daughters, Carol and Cathy, who were active in the work of raising cattle and were successful in showing Hereford steers at the county fair each year.
Harold’s intentions were to build the best cowherd and purchase the best herd bulls that he could afford. This has included many of the top bloodlines through the years from breeders from many states. Harold has sold cattle to breeders in 14 states. He merchandised bulls privately and in a variety of consignment sales including national Western Stock Show, many Kansas consignment sales, On Top Sale of Nebraska, and the Kansas Expo Sale.
Harold is a great believer in giving his bull customers the full service treatment. Some of his commercial bull buyers have bought bulls for over 25 years. Harold said, “You have to learn what they want and follow up on how the bulls are doing, talk to the folks and try to produce the kind of cattle they need.” Harold has never raised anything but registered horned Hereford cattle. At the peak he ran about 180 females.
In 1985 they moved to Osborne, but Harold remained active in the ranching and farming every day. Their daughter, Carol, husband Jim Nichols, and sons, Ryan and Brock, moved to the ranch. In 1984, Ryan showed his first Hereford bucket calf and Brock began in 1986 with his first Hereford bucket calf. They both continued showing Hereford steers throughout their 4-H years.
Harold and Jim worked together with the farming and the cattle. Harold had the registered cattle and Jim had a good herd of commercial cattle. Gradually Jim began to acquire a few registered cattle each year. In 1999, Harold decided because of age and health that he would sell his registered cattle. He sold 100 registred cows to Mrnak Ranch of Bowman, ND. A group of heifers went to The Berrys of Cheyenne, WY and others went to Buss of Bogue, KS, Watson of Red Cloud, NE, and Rubottom, Woodston, KS, and a few older cows were kept to raise bulls for Jim’s commercial cows.
Harold and Pat are still active on the farm and in Hereford activities throughout the state. Pat, Carol and Carolyn (Brock’s wife) are all members of the Kansas Hereford Women Association where Pat and Carol have both served as Directors. Pat was a charter member of the American Hereford Auxiliary, served on the Strategic Planning committee and was chairperson of the 25th Silver Anniversary of the American Hereford Women. Pat served as a Director of the AHW for 2 terms and in 1999 Pat was elected as the American Hereford Women President and attended many Hereford events representing that organization. In 2001 Pat was named Outstanding Hereford Woman where she was given this award at the annual meeting of the AHW at the American Royal. Harold has also received many awards and held many offices. Harold, Jim and Brock are all members of the American Hereford Association where all 3 have served as Directors on the Kansas Hereford Association. Harold has also served as President of the Association and on many committees. In 1985 Harold was awarded the Hereford Breeder of the Year Award, in 2004 he received the 50+ year award for AHA membership. Harold also received his 65 year pin for his service with Kansas Livestock Association. Serving 33 years on the Osborne Co. Fair Board and serving as President for 3 years Harold was very involved in the 4-H Animal sale to make it a rewarding experience for the young people.
After graduating from Kansas State University, Ryan in Finance and Brock in Animal Science, both still wanted to be involved in raising Herefords. Ryan, who lives in Wichita and a loan officer for the Bank of the West Ag Lending Bank, has gotten involved in the purebred business as well as the feed lot cattle. Brock and his family are partners in the Carswell – Nichols Hereford business and work closely in all aspects for the ranch/farm. Brock’s family consists of wife, Carolyn and children, Avery 6, Emma 4, and Zoe 2, and Coy (born in Sept 2009). Plans are already in the making for their children showing Hereford cattle in their 4-H project when old enough.
With the younger generation, understanding that the cattle industry has changed dramatically since Harold started but at the same time wanting to maintain the same strong principles, Brock, Jim, and Ryan are adapting the program to what the commercial cattleman desire.
Through all the generations Carswell-Nichols has been in the business of selling bulls but it all starts with the cow program. Harold and Jim retained a small portion of the original Carswell brood cows when they were sold to the Mrnaks in 1999. These cows provided a strong base but in an effort to increase the size and still maintain the strong maternal qualities, Brock and Ryan have gone to the best Registered Hereford cow herds in the country and picked from their herds. Over the last five years, they have purchased an amazing set of females from “the” names in the industry, including the Rausch’s, Baker’s, Upstream Ranch, Churchill Cattle, and the Mrnaks. These purchases have helped Carswell-Nichols to quickly grow the registered operation to its current size of 100 momma cows. In a further effort to capitalize on what they feel are truly “elite” females in their herd; in the Spring of 2009, an Embryo Transfer program was started that will allow them to continue to improve on the genetics, by flushing some of their best cows to new, industry leading bulls.
Carswell-Nichols has utilized various industry contacts that allow both their customers and their business valuable outlets for marketing their cattle at either the packer or the feedlot. Through the amazing growth experienced by the Certified Hereford Beef program and their alliance with National Beef Packing Company, purebred Hereford breeders and commercial cattlemen have a valuable marketing tool when it comes to selling “white-face” cattle. Carswell-Nichols has marketed their cattle through CHB for the last six years and is able to capitalize on the market premiums for both age & source verified cattle, but also carcass premiums. In addition, Carswell-Nichols has a strong relationship with Ford County Feed Yard of Ford, KS who is consistently noted as an industry leader in finishing Hereford cattle, but also provides a channel for their customers who are either looking to sell their cattle direct or retain ownership through the feeding process. Carcass information is collected on all animals slaughtered on the CHB grid and allows Carswell-Nichols to make sure they are producing cattle that are both sound on the hoof but also on the rail.
The Hereford business has been good to the Carswells and Nichols. The future of Carswell – Nichols Herefords looks bright since Avery, Emma, and Zoe already have started their Hereford herds and they will tell you all about their Herefords.