Wesley F. Hansen
Wesley F. Hansen was born in North Platte on May 4, 1919 to Henry and Gertrude Hansen. He was the youngest of three children and the only son. Wes graduated from high school in 1937. Upon graduation he enrolled a the University of Nebraska where he completed a two-year farm-ranch operations course. In 1940, Wes married Barbara Smith of North Platte. Since that time they have been blessed with three children, Pamela, Thomas and Mary Ann.
Wes's son, Thomas, represents the fourth generation of Hansens since his grandfather Hans J. Hansen immigrated from Denmark in 1878 and founded the Hansen Ranch Co. In 1880 after being dried out of Howard County, he moved to this site where the original farmstead house was built and is still standing. This is also the present site of the ranch headquarters.
The Hansen ranch, home of the 77 brand is located 7 miles northwest of North Platte, Nebraska and includes over 30,000 acres spanning Lincoln, McPherson and Keith Counties. It is a cow-calf operation with over 1,200 cows and over 1,500 acres of hay ground.
Wes's father, Henry, started with a Shorthorn herd, that was replaced by a predominantly Hereford cow herd. In recent years, Wes has initiated a cross-breeding program which includes Red Angus, Simmental and Red Poll. The cows usually stay on pasture until December, at which time they are brought into the valley. The cows start calving in mid-February.
The heavy end of the steer calves are sold in the fall. The lighter end, plus all of the heifers are kept until they are yearlings. At that time some of the heifers are chosen as replacements and the rest along with the rest of the steers, are fed in commercial feedlots.
One of the recent changes on the Hansen Ranch has been the use of "breadloaf" stacks. In past years, it took as many as ten men to help "put up" the 12-400 tons of hay. Now stacking machines have cut the labor requirement to only three men.
Wes has always been an innovator. Back in the early 1960's he was experimenting with many types of conservation practices in an attempt to better utilize the land the precious resources, "grass". Conservation practices he has engaged include planned grazing, grass seeding, wind breaks and tree planting, erosion dams and drainage ditches. Just this past year, Mr. & Mrs. Hansen were recognized as the conservation award winners of the Twin Platte Natural Resource District.
Wes also served on the advisory council to the College of Agriculture here at UNL. He has also been on the advisory committee to the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and has worked closely with the North Platte Experiment Station.
Awards honoring Wes and his family are the 1976 Nebraska Agribusiness Award for outstanding service to agriculture, 1973 Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Agricultural Achievement Award, 1968 North Platte Jaycee's Boss of the Year Award, 1964 Hall of Agricultural Achievement, Western Livestock Journal – Cattleman of the Month, Block and Bridle Honorary Member, and many more.
But perhaps over and above his accomplishments as a successful rancher, livestock feeder and conservationist are the leadership and service Mr. Hansen has given to the livestock industry. Following in the footsteps of his father, who was president in the 30's, Wes has served as president of the Stockgrowers Association. This award was presented to Wes in recognition of outstanding service to the livestock industry as president of the Nebraska Stock Grower's Association. Wes has also served on the Board of Directors to the National Cattleman's Association and the National Livestock and Meat Board.
In addition to all of these commitments, Mr. Hansen has found time to devote to his hometown community of North Platte as well. He served as a 4-H leader for 18 years. He has been very active with the Chamber of Commerce and he has served on the Board of Directors of the Dawson Public Power District and the First National Bank and Trust Company of North Platte.