When Scotsman George Grant journeyed to the United States with four Angus bulls, he set his sights on the Kansas Prairie. The year was 1873, and once they arrived, the cattle became the basis of what is now the world’s largest beef breed. And Kansas is where it all began.

Recently more than 400 Angus cattlemen and women celebrated that history while attending the 2012 National Angus Conference and Tour (NAC&T), held Oct. 3-5 in a number of locations across the state. Industry speakers, ranch visits, and feed yard tours were just a few agenda items, but most of all, Angus producers enjoyed gathering with old friends and meeting new ones from across the country.

“At this year’s National Angus Conference and Tour, we really came full circle,” says Bryce Schumann, chief executive officer for the American Angus Association®. “Back to the land that was the Angus breed’s first home; and as a Kansas native myself, I could not be more proud of our breed’s history.”

Themed “Come Home to Kansas,” the NAC&T was hosted by the Association and the Kansas Angus Association, along with sponsorship support from Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed LLC. The first day was the conference portion of the event, which included educational seminars in Wichita, Kan. Topics centered on “Beef Improvement, Angus-style” and involved speakers in academia and Association staff.

“It’s important for producers to be involved in a number of educational opportunities across the beef sector,” says Bob Weaber, Kansas State Extension Specialist and conference speaker.  “And certainly the NAC&T is a great one for Angus enthusiasts to come learn about technology and development that is focused on Angus cattle, and impact their utility and desirability in the entire production system.”

Following the conference, participants enjoyed two days of ranch and feed yard visits featuring the state’s top Angus genetics. From learning about grass management in the Flint Hills to feed yards in Western Kansas – the state offered a variety of experiences.

Wednesday, Oct. 3

Filled with rich Angus heritage, the tour started with a bang at McCurry Brothers Angus in Sedgwick, Kan., a third-generation family-owned-and-operated Angus ranch. The stop included a chuck wagon meal, complete with homemade ice cream and a live band. Team roping and mounted shooting competitions also took place, and several Association staff and board members felt right at home in the saddle.

“We were excited to be a part of the tour because of our long history in the Angus business,” Greg McCurry says. “It’s just exciting to see people you know from events, read about, and talk to on the phone to come to your ranch and look at your facilities.”

Also during the dinner, INTRUST Bank of Wichita, Kan., presented the Angus Foundation a check for $20,000 for the first phase of the “The $75,000 Card Challenge.” As an effort to increase the number of Angus Platinum Visa® credit cards, the challenge has been extended through the end of the year. If 300 additional credit cards are activated, INTRUST Bank will donate another $25,000 to the Angus Foundation.

Thursday, Oct. 4

Located in the heartland of Kansas, the first tour stop Thursday was the 6N Ranch owned and operated by Chris and Sharee Sankey.

Sharee Sankey says attendees were able to see the different facets of the state represented at their ranch with several area seedstock operations on display:  “When they leave from Kansas they will know we are a cattle state and it is cattle country. We just hope they can take away a good image of Kansas from our ranch.”

The tour rolled on to Fink Beef Genetics in Randolph, Kan., and a pasture stop at Lyons Ranch in the Flint Hills. The stops included Angus cattle, plus education on conservation tactics for the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills.

The day ended with a riverside meal at historic Cottonwood Falls. Participants had the opportunity to explore shops and the French Renaissance style courthouse overlooking Main Street.

Friday, Oct. 5

With a crisp Kansas wind and early sunrise, the tour headed west on Friday to Pratt Feeders of Pratt, Kan., a Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) -licensed feed yard. Here, tour-goers listened to General Manager Jerry Bohn explain the importance of feed-yard maintenance and health, and why they strive for excellence through the Certified Angus Beef® brand.

The tour then headed south through red-dirt roads and rolling hills to Gardiner Angus Ranch in Ashland, Kan., and drove through the Gardiner open-range pasture and feedlot. While at Gardiner Angus Ranch, participants were able to view the recently retired GAR Predestined bull, which was the all-time, top semen selling bull for Select Sires.

“It’s important to bring folks where a lot of things happen from the range environment to the feedyard and the processing plant,” says Mark Gardiner, Gardiner Angus Ranch. “At the NAC&T, all cattlemen can come together and converse, and in turn, we can better understand how to become better as a beef industry as a whole.”

Participants were also able to view the Giles Ranch of Bucklin, Kan., as they headed toward the last stop of the trip, Stucky Ranch of Kingman, Kan. Owner and operator Gordon Stucky spoke to attendees about his use of genomic technology to improve accuracy in his herd selection decisions.

The final evening was a perfect conclusion to the 2012 NAC&T, as Angus friends enjoyed their meal together and Angus calves played before a Kansas sunset.

For more information and highlights from the conference and tour, visit www.nationalangusconference.com.