The Nissen family began a bucking bull breeding program after an unlikely meeting
N-Bar 5 Ranch, owned by Eric and April Nissen, is located near Marshfield, Mo., in Webster County.
They have lived there for 15 years, and for the past four or five years Eric has been raising ABBI (American Bucking Bull Inc.) bulls. Eric said he eased into the bucking bull business.
“I just bought 12 cows to start and one breed bull,” he said. “We just kept all our heifers. This year I’ve sold probably 10 or 12 bucking bulls.”
Eric got his start with ABBI in an unusual way. Cord McCory, one of the McCoy brothers from Oklahoma, who had been on television show “The Amazing Race” was at PFI signing autographs. It was Cord McCoy.
“There was a line and we weren’t going to wait in the line,” Eric said. “We were getting boots, and Cord said, ‘Hey, come over here.’ We hit it off and have been friends ever since. He raises bucking bulls, so that’s how we got in it. We went up to Tupelo, Okla., and kind of looked it all over.”
Eric laughed and added, “I didn’t even watch ‘The Amazing Race.”’
As a guarantee, Eric had Cord agree to stay in on half of the first calves. ABBI is a registered breed and comes in all different colors. He also raises commercial cattle and keeps the commercial cows and bucking cows separated.
“We’re shooting for Jan. 1 babies on the bucking bulls because that’s the new year,” Eric explained. “If you get a January baby, they’ll grow. If you get a June baby, he’s six months behind in growth and still counted the same.”
Young bulls are trained for customers.
They are trained with a dummy (mechanical box) on their back. The box is ran by remote control and boxes vary in weight.
“There are all kinds of events throughout the year that will pay $100,000 to win, and $50,000 to win (if the bull wins),” Eric explained. “They have judges. The bull doesn’t even have a rider. They’re scored. That’s where the money is, but they can only compete till they’re four years old. After that they can’t compete for money.”
As calves, Eric is looking for that one that’s light-footed, and kind of stand-offish.
“He stays kind of away from you and is light on his front end. Then on a mature bull, you want a lot of air in the front end. You want them to kick out in the back and spin,” Eric said. “They have the best life of any cow. They get fed better. They really are so babied. They’re bred to act like that. These baby calves out here, tonight when it cools off they will just start bucking in the field. They’re just bred that way.”
There is a big misconception, Eric said, that bulls are mistreated to make them buck.
“The bulls get massages and baths. They even go to the chiropractor,” he explained.
His bulls are now 3 and 4 years old. So he hasn’t had one in the PBR.
“I changed my outlook,” Eric said. “Wanting to have the big one in the PBR is not so much my deal. We don’t have time to haul them. There’s a lot of money in it, but you better be willing to head out Friday night and travel. I’d rather sell mine for whatever.”
Eric sells some of his bulls online.
The goal of raising bucking bulls was to give his boys something to do. They’ve already bought a couple of their own.
Eric and April have two budding cowboys, Lane (12) and Layton (11). This is their first year of rodeo competition.
Lane loves steer riding and roping. Layton loves mini bronc riding.
“Of course we have our pens here to train our bucking bulls, so they get on some little stuff here,” Eric said. “In Lane’s third rodeo, he won first in the steer riding.”
Their daughters don’t compete and Jaysa (15) isn’t interested in rodeo, but Aria (5) would like to barrel race.
Rodeo competition is not new to Eric. He competed when he was younger.
“I did the steer riding and then I ruptured my spleen, so my parents made me quit. So then I started roping,” Eric siad.
Two years ago, Eric quit his job to devote his time to N-5 Ranch Farm/Fencing. Up until then he had people hired for his business while still holding down a job.
“That’s what we do for a living; build fence.” Eric said. “Farm fencing; pipe corrals, pipe cable, solid pipe, barbed wire. Mainly I mostly do welding.”
It is harder to drive posts right now, but he has a gas-powered post driver, and he drives the corner posts with a hydraulic driver on the tractor.
He has always liked fencing. He said he likes anything farm-related. Eric’s dad is a welder by trade.
“We take a lot of pride in our work,” Eric said. He quoted Colossians 3:23 which says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” That is a principle he applies to farming, fencing, and rodeo.
“As a family, it’s God first, then rodeo,” he added. “We don’t go to rodeo events on Sunday.”