Aside from staying right with God, nothing can affect your life more than who you choose to spend it with. Chris and Sharee Sankey of Sankey’s 6N Ranch are a testament to this simple, yet tremendously significant, idea.
Chris and Sharee own and operate Sankey’s 6N Ranch outside Council Grove, Kansas and have called that land home since the fall of 1982 when a Kansas City business family, the Norquists, were looking to sell or lease their ranch in the Flint Hills. Mrs. Norquist loved the show cattle aspect of the beef industry, and Sharee happened to cross paths with her at, none other than, the American Royal. There, the Sankeys were able to visit with her about their aspirations. This conversation proved to change the trajectory of the Sankeys, as it gave them the opportunity to lease the 2,000-acre 6N Ranch. In 1989 the Norquist family was ready to sell, affording the Sankeys the opportunity to purchase the headquarters site and the surrounding land. This purchase was the first building block of Sankey’s 6N Ranch.
But before the 6N, the Flint Hills, and the American Royal conversation, Chris and Sharee Sankey were two students at Kansas State University on the same livestock judging team. Chris was born and raised in Sterling, Kansas, and was introduced to the Angus breed by his father and grandfather who ranched west of Hutchinson. Sharee was born and raised a Laflin, working daily within one of the Angus breed’s pioneering herds, Laflin Angus Ranch, Olsburg, Kansas. The two married in 1978.
It’s no wonder that with Angus roots and passion that deep, something grand was sure to grow.
Sankey’s 6N Angus herd is focused on raising cattle that have quality from every angle. They believe that cattle first and foremost must have high quality phenotype. They also know that in today’s world you must back that phenotype with genetic information that makes them relevant for the todays beef industry. They believe that there is no reason to sacrifice any of those parts for the other. It’s the Sankey’s belief that when you add up all those pieces you will find the recipe for their success! Together they have bred and raised two American Angus Association Show Bulls of the Year:
• Sankey’s Lazer 609 of 6N (2007-2008) who was also Grand Champion Bull at the 2008 National Western Stock Show.
• Sankeys Justified 101 (2012-2013) son of Lazer who was Grand Champion Bull at the 2013 National Western Stock Show.
If you asked their opinion, they might also say that 2020 wasn’t all bad, as they purchased and exhibited the 2020-2021 Show Bull of the Year.
• Silveiras Forbes 8088 (2020-2021) and he was also the Grand Champion Angus Bull at the 2021 Cattlemen’s Congress.
They also consign bulls to the National Angus Bull Sale annually, as well as bull tests around the great state of Kansas and at the Midland Bull Test in Billings, Montana.
In 2018 they were awarded the National Western Stock Show Industry Leader Award, in Denver Colorado.
In 2015 together they were named American Angus Association’s Herdsman of the Year and in 2021 they received the Western States Herdsman of the Year award at the Western National Angus Futurity in Reno, Nevada.
Both Chris and Sharee have served the association through state and national boards. Chris is a past member of the American Angus Association Board of Directors. Sharee is a past American Angus Auxiliary President where she worked endlessly to support the youth of the breed through scholarship programs. They both have served as the president, as well as, past junior advisors for the Kansas Angus Association.
The Sankeys know that the Business Breed isn’t only about bulls, so they host an Annual Fall Female sale each September in Council Grove.
Angus cattle, of course, aren’t the only reason Chris and Sharee keep the show barn rocking, the trailer rolling, and their work boots on at ages 65 and 64. Within them remains a strong dedication to the improvement and longevity of the Brangus breed.
Sharee’s father, Bob Laflin (who needs no introduction) needed pasture for his small herd of Brangus cows, so the newlyweds obliged, sparking a fire that would go on burn brightly for decades. The strong use of AI helped expand and improve the Brangus herd, with a sharp focus on Brangus genetics that were more the type and kind of Angus cattle. Smooth underlines, and cleaner fronted Brangus were what the pair consistently bred towards. At that time, they were selecting cattle that were ahead of the times, as the Brangus breed is shifting more that direction today.
The base of their Brangus herd roots back to prominent Brangus herds like Brinks Brangus and Windy Acres in Texas, which are first generation Brangus. In the mid 90’s the Sankeys ran about 100 head of Brangus cows, though today they run a few donors and elite females. Over 40 years, their tireless work and unmatched passion has afforded them great success in the Brangus breed. They’ve exhibited 3 National Brangus Show Bulls of the year, 2 National Brangus Show Females of the Year and Chris and Sharee were named the 96-97 IBBA Herdsman of the Year. Sharee has also served as a past IBBA board member and IJBBA junior advisor.
Sankeys Revolution 860K was Champion Bull in Houston 2003 and IBBA Show Bull of the year and almost 20 years later, Revolution is still influential in the herd today. The top current Brangus sire is Sankey’s Special Op 108E, which is a grandson of Revolution, and he traces back to a first-generation cow that originated in Bob Laflin’s herd.
The Sankeys remain highly motivated by the opportunity within the Brangus breed. Today their work focuses on the Ultra Black program, consisting of registered Angus and registered Brangus animals on either side of the pedigree.
Believe it or not, within all of the cattle raising, they also raised kids. Chris and Sharee are the quite proud parents of Cody Sankey and Jeana Hurlbut.
Chris and Sharee “drug us up and down the show road” as daughter Jeana affectionately put it, offering their children every opportunity to learn the value of hard work and sound competition. No matter what color ribbon returned to the stalls during the 80’s, 90’s and 2000s, the Sankey kids understood that their work was part of a grander vision for Sankey’s 6N Ranch. Both Cody and Jeana were heavily involved in two junior programs attending both annual Junior National shows, served on junior boards, participated in contests and showed many class and division winners.
Cody and his wife, Lindsay, own and operate Sankey Angus outside Economy, Indiana. Together they are raising two children, Caroline and Cyrus. Cody is the Associate Vice President of Beef Programs for GENEX.
Jeana and her husband, Dustin Hurlbut, live near Raymond, South Dakota with two daughters, Bayler & Mattie. Together they own and operate Hurlbut Cattle. Jeana works for SCI Designs as a graphic designer in the livestock industry.
"We have been blessed in our operation from the beginning, as our passion coming out of college was to ranch, raise our family there and raise good livestock. Through the years there were challenges but with God's favor, we saw blessings come out of those challenges. Watching our grandkids grow up now in the livestock industry is exciting, as being 6th generation. It will be fun to watch them in the Junior programs as they grow. They all seem to love the cattle and horses.” Chris & Sharee Sankey
In 1978, when Chris and Sharee began this adventure, a gallon of gas was $.63, a dozen eggs was $.48 and the television series Dallas was launched, taking the country by storm.
A lot has changed since then.
What hasn’t wavered is Chris and Sharee’s commitment to raise the best cattle they can, together. •