Data-driven results. It’s how Triangle H stands out from the herd.
In the heart of prime beef country in southwest Kansas, a family-owned cattle feeding operation is paving the way for the next generation in agriculture.
Triangle H/Hands Enterprises is an award-winning cattle feeding and cow-calf operation near Garden City, Kansas, led by managing partners Marisa Kleysteuber and her father, Sam Hands. Marisa is the fifth generation in her family to farm and raise cattle in Kansas.
Marisa and her father take care of the animals, predominantly Angus with some Simmental influence, while her cousin Tyler manages the farm operation. The farm also produces corn, alfalfa, sorghum, silage, and soybeans, along with some wheat.
“I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors. I enjoy cattle. I enjoy the people who are in the industry,” said Marisa. “It feels like everyone is a family. You can’t walk into a room and not know them.”
Triangle H/Hands Enterprises has carved out a niche working with beef producers to deliver a high-quality product to consumers. The operation uses an index to track the health and quality of the herd, ranking each animal for carcass and feed yard performance as they grow from 400 to 700 pounds to finishing at about 1,500 pounds.
It’s no surprise the business is focused on data. Marisa followed in her father’s footsteps and obtained a degree in animal science with a business option from Kansas State University. Later, she continued her education with a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition, with an emphasis on horse statistics.
“We can help our customer be able to sort out not necessarily the top cattle, but that bottom 5% that they can make improvements quicker in their herd from the data,” said Marisa.
From farm kid to returned college grad
Marisa’s love for the operation started as a little girl out on horseback alongside her dad. He told her and her brother stories and would send them out on horseback to check on the cattle, sending them on a mission to look for piggybacks and report back to him.
“I think just early on I always wanted to be back here, and I’m kind of a small town, family-oriented girl anyways,” said Marisa.
Agriculture is a competitive and constantly evolving business. By pursuing an education and internships, Marisa picked up experience and new insights that have been a boon for Triangle H/Hands Enterprises.
“As generations have gone off to college and been part of internships or worked with different operations, you pick up some new ideas,” said Marisa. “My cousin and I have brought back some technologies that help us utilize tools differently and be a little more efficient.”
Triangle H/Hands Enterprises has made investments over the years to strengthen the business. In doing so, Sam and Marisa have built a strong relationship with the team at American AgCredit.
Marisa points to the team’s experience in agriculture as a key benefit of working with a Farm Credit lender.
“Working with American AgCredit and them having knowledge of the agriculture industry, it makes you very comfortable to be able to call them up and discuss any business dealings,” she said. “They understand our timeline. They understand what we’re doing and the work that’s going into it.”
With a mission to serve agriculture and rural communities, American AgCredit is giving back to rural communities through partnerships with nonprofit organizations and food banks. In 2021, the company donated more than $1.7 million to local nonprofit partners, mostly in rural America.
“You really feel like you’re working with the hometown local bank,” said Marisa. “With that hometown feel, they truly know this part of the industry. It’s nice to see them involved and giving back to the community.”
Succession planning and raising up a new generation to work on the farm can be a touchy subject in agriculture. Marisa’s father took care to include her in all aspects of the operation, paving the way for her to become a managing partner.
Now, he intentionally gives her the space and ownership on the operation to find her purpose in life, where she wants to be, and what makes her happy working there.
“As I transitioned back here, getting to work with the crew and hiring the crew, I feel like I have an awesome team that I’ve put together that—even being a female—they respect me, and I enjoy working alongside them,” reflected Marisa.
As a smaller operation, everyone does it all, according to Marisa. They’re all driving the food truck, washing up, walking animals, processing, working with breeding season, building fence, and hauling water. Every day is a little different, and the weather poses challenges, too. But to Marisa, it’s a fun challenge—one she loves.
Farming can be a dangerous business, and Marisa hopes her father can eventually retire from the day-to-day work while continuing to play a role in the operation.
“I’m proud that I’m back here and part of an operation that’s been here for a number of years, building on what my dad has accomplished with the help of his brothers and his dad,” said Marisa. “It’s humbling to get to be a part of something like this, working with people and helping them have more success so they can be here for years to come.”