- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

FORT MORGAN, Colo. (AP) - Steve Gabel has spent more than 20 years building his magnum opus: a cattle feedlot.

In 1993 Gabel opened Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins with a herd of about 4,000. Today the feedlot is home to 22,000 cattle, and Gabel, who also runs a smaller cow-calf operation in his hometown of Eaton, is one of the most respected names in the Colorado beef industry. On Feb. 18 he will be inducted into the 2016 Colorado Ag Hall of Fame, along with Morgan County dairy farmer Harold Griffith and two other state agriculture leaders.

Gabel has held positions of leadership in numerous beef cattle organizations, including the Colorado Beef Council, the Colorado Livestock Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In his home of Weld County, he has volunteered as a judging coach for the 4-H livestock program.

“(I have) a desire to give back to the industry, because the industry has been exceptionally good to me and my family,” Gabel said. “And through the process of giving back, I think I’ve been rewarded by inclusion in this group.”

Agriculture journalists and other farmers often consult him about current issues in the business, Audrey Gabel said.

“Steve’s wealth of knowledge of the animal industry and the livestock industry is indescribable,” Audrey Gabel said.

He’s gained that knowledge over a lifetime of cattle-raising, which hasn’t been without difficulties. About 17 years ago he was in a “freak accident” involving some of the feedlot’s bulls, which broke his neck and left him confined to a wheelchair. But he doesn’t let that get in the way of his work.

“It’s probably made me a better manager, because it’s forced me to delegate some things, where before the accident ‘delegation’ wasn’t a big part of my vocabulary,” he said.

The 49-mile commute that both Gabels make every day would also be a challenge for most people, but Audrey Gabel said they’re used to it by now.

“You wind up on the way out, and wind down on the way back,” she said.

And Wiggins is a prime spot for their operations because it’s close to many of their buyers, like the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan and the JBS facilities in Greeley. Gable said they try to help out the area’s farmers a bit, too, by buying much of their feed locally.

Unlike many of today’s farmers and ranchers, Gabel has been able to watch his children follow in his footsteps. His son is the president of a cattle organization in Nebraska, and his daughter works in the livestock pharmaceuticals business. Several generations of the family will attend Gabel’s induction ceremony at the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture.

One of his favorite things about the cattle business is the kind of honest, hard-working people he gets to work with - what he calls “salt of the earth” people.

“There’s lots of people that are highly qualified to receive that award, and I’m extremely humbled to be included in that group,” he said.


Information from: The Fort Morgan Times, https://www.fortmorgantimes.com/

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