ROSEBURG, Ore. — Cattle and sheep were in Cody and Lee Sandberg’s DNA from the time they were born. The brothers, now in their 30s, have always been around livestock.
Their parents, George and Cathy Sandberg, had cattle and sheep and the boys had livestock projects during their 4-H and FFA years.
Now Cody Sandberg, 35, runs a 3,000-head operation that includes Angus and Angus-Hereford cross cows and calves and Suffolk and Suffolk-Dorsett cross ewes and lambs. He owns some property, but also leases ground for his livestock.
Lee Sandberg, 31, and his wife, Erin Sandberg, 25, own 80 cows, most of them Angus. Erin also has an agricultural background as her family has a cattle ranch in the Ashland, Ore., area. In addition to tending to their cattle, Lee is a firefighter/paramedic with the city of Roseburg and Erin is a hairdresser three days a week.
The couple has registered stock and sells bulls to other ranches. They also have some animals that produce meat for the commercial market. They lease ground for their animals.
Both businesses are headquartered in the Roseburg area of central Douglas County.
While the brothers have separate operations, they do have a piece of ground they hay together and loan equipment back and forth. Occasionally, when needed, they’ll help each other.
“We’ve had livestock since we were little kids, way back,” said Cody Sandberg. “We were always around livestock because our parents had both sheep and cattle.”
“It’s definitely not for the money,” Lee Sandberg said of having a cattle business. “But it’s a lifestyle I was raised in, that my wife was raised in, and it is something we want to raise our family in and around.”
Lee and Erin are expecting their first child in December.
“You are your own boss, you’re able to be out with Mother Nature,” Lee Sandberg said of ranching. “There are multiple things to do and challenges on a daily basis, but when you’re raised in it, you have a passion for it.”
The brothers agreed that what they learned most from their parents was a work ethic.
“Work until the work is done and don’t worry about the pay until another day,” Lee Sandberg said.
“Without a work ethic, you won’t be much of a rancher,” Cody Sandberg said.
Cody Sandberg has a 7-year-old daughter, Reece, who is following in her father’s footsteps. She enjoys helping in the lambing barn and helps pen sheep.
Cody Sandberg direct markets most of his cows and lambs after taking them from birth to finish on grass pastures. Through a distributor, the beef goes to store chains and the lamb goes to restaurants and stores.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” Cody Sandberg said of his operation. “I get to see my product from the very beginning all the way to the end. You get to see your accomplishments.”
Lee and Erin Sandberg also direct market their beef. In many cases, they are able to meet the people who are buying and eating their product.
“My wife and I have the theory that is: You take care of the land, take care of the animals, they’ll take care of you,” Lee Sandberg said. “Take care of the property, take care of God’s creation, they’ll take care of you.”
The brothers said they expect to be in the livestock business for a long time and hope to pass the livelihood on to their children.
“I’m sure I’ll be running cows and sheep until they put me in the ground, and then I hope by then, my daughter will be interested and will carry on.”