John and Alicia Kane

For John and Alicia Kane and their three up-and-coming ranchers, ranching is a lifestyle they choose every day.

For John and Alicia Kane and their three up-and-coming ranchers, ranching is a lifestyle they choose every day. 

Like many Oklahomans, John’s ranching heritage began generations before him. His grandfather began ranching in the Osage in the 1960s, while his great great grandfather built the Foster Ranch in the 1920’s. The Foster Ranch, which is featured in the Summer is Here video, is located south of Bartlesville. 

On this ranch, the Kanes run yearlings, or calves that graze throughout the summer before transitioned to feedlots for finishing; however, 85 percent of their operation is in the Osage where John partners with his dad, John B. Kane, on a cow herd.

John comes from a long-line of Kansas Jayhawks. His great-great grandfather, John H. Kane, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1899, and after graduation, moved to Bartlesville where he served as general counsel Phillips Petroleum Company, ultimately ensuring John and his family would be ranching in the area more than 100 years later.

“I don't know why his son decided to go the University of Kansas, but I imagine his father had something to do with that decision. At some point, it became a fun tradition to be shared among members of our family,” John shared.

After graduating with a business degree from the University of Kansas, John took a manager position with a printing and publishing company and quickly followed it with a web designer/administrator/master role for a defense contractor.

While Alicia and John, college sweethearts, enjoyed Alicia’s hometown of Lawrence, they decided to make a move that would ultimately lead them back to Bartlesville.

“After three years of working in marketing, I thought, ‘you know what, I like this, but I don’t love it’,” and that’s when the Kanes made the decision to move to Ft. Worth, and John enrolled in the Texas Christian University’s Ranch Management Program.

“Alicia was not just tolerating of the idea, she was excited to go to Ft. Worth,” John said. “She knew Bartlesville, and she wanted to move back here. It’s not lost on me that I was lucky. I mean, that's really lucky for me.” “While I was enrolled at TCU, she was able to work for her family’s natural gas marketing company, where she still works today.”

In 2011, John and Alicia moved back to Oklahoma, where they’ve been ranching and growing a family ever since.

Meet Your Rancher:

What does it mean to you to raise your kids around ranching?

As involved as our kids are in ranching, they’re more involved than I ever was at their age. Growing up, our ranching operation was different. My grandfather ran 400-500 cows, and my dad ran wheat cattle, but that’s not as much of a family-oriented part of the industry. When you’re six years old, hopping in the truck at four in the morning to drive to the Texas panhandle to look at wheat cattle and drive back isn’t necessarily an idea of a fun day. I’d help on shipping day, painting fences, and ranch hand work, but I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operations. 

What makes what your family does as ranchers unique?

There are so many great ranchers who raise and grow yearlings or focus on cow-calf operations. We all believe our herds are great, and we have incredible genetics, so that part doesn’t make us unique.

However, one thing we have here, that’s not necessarily unique, but it’s something I’m proud of, is that my dad and I are partners and we work really well together. I don’t believe you get that everywhere.

We have a great relationship that gives us the best chance to succeed going forward. 

What's your favorite part about being in this area and being involved in the community?

This area allows our family to embrace ranching and be part of the unique Bartlesville community. With about 36,000 people, and 3 or 4 major employers, it’s small enough to cultivate a close-knit community camaraderie while large enough to support plenty of philanthropic efforts, which are fun to be part of. Honestly, it just has a lot to offer.

I can't think of a better place - or way - to raise a family. Not only in Bartlesville, I can't speak highly enough of our community and there’s a lot of opportunity available by being involved in our great schools, but also on our ranch.

The open spaces have the ability to change people’s perspectives. You can see it when people visit who don’t typically have the opportunity to experience a ranch-level of openness. You’ll get a different sensation from someone when you put them on the lake first thing in the morning. You’ll see a sense of calm take over. So, I think it's good for your soul to be out here and I believe the kids who grow up this way have a different appreciation for life. Not better, not worse, just different. 

A lot of buzzwords surround ranching, one of them being sustainability. What does sustainability mean to you and your family?

The simplest definition is staying in business, and I believe that is an umbrella that would capture many different definitions of sustainability. If we focus on sustainability of resources - water, grass - well, without water or grass you won’t be in business next year. When most people think about sustainable ranching, they're going to think about using your resources in the most efficient way possible. As a rancher, that’s always our goal.

From an outside perspective, we need to know exactly how someone defines sustainability to meet their criteria. Take natural resources, for example. From Texas to California, drought has been a common issue. This year, drought concern has not translated to our area. Someone driving by our fence can see we have water and healthy stands of forage and may conclude that we are a sustainable operation. Their conclusion may or may not be true, as exceptional weather circumstances can mask or enhance any deficiencies in management.

Ultimately, if you’re in business, you’re likely sustainable. We must ensure from water to soil and from nutrition to animal care, all pieces are working together. If they’re not, then we’re no longer able to be ranchers. 

What piece of technology do you believe has changed since your great-great grandfather was ranching that helps you do your job better?

Resources like the internet, drones, apps, and record-keeping software make our jobs easier. However, the single piece of technology that allows us to produce more beef with less resources than previous generations is genetics. Research dedicated to genetic improvements, in my opinion, greatly outweighs the convenience factors of other technologies. Productive cattle directly correlate to a great product in the meat counter. 

What do you believe to be the most challenging aspect of ranching today?

There are certainly challenges that have been present for thirty or forty years that will never go away like weather and markets, but there is a challenge today that also presents itself as an opportunity: grocery shoppers want to know where their food comes from.

The challenge lies in the time commitment to share our individual ranch stories and correct any misinformation shaping public perception.

We want to share our history and our heritage, but we also prioritize caring for our livestock, our families, and our communities. 

You’re able to give your children opportunities because you pivoted from marketing to full-time ranching. What does that mean to you?

I want to make it clear before I talk about my decision to return to the ranch, that I don't want to take credit for something I didn't do. Having that opportunity and taking advantage of it, I’m proud of myself for doing that, but I can't pretend this is my doing. I didn't build our operation, and all I can do is do my best to be a good steward of it and strive to continue a family legacy that's important to me and is important to my dad.

I have sisters who understand the importance of legacy and that's important because without that unifying vision of keeping ranches in production agricultural, it's a difficult business to sustain.

Without my grandfather’s vision to keep the ranching operation together there would be many more challenges for us. As a patriarch and as a builder of our ranching program, he had that right to decide its direction. His vision is allowing us to buy this ranch with the support of our family. We could not do this without that support.

While I did make the choice to return to my roots, I remain cognizant that my opportunity would not exist were it not for the vision of my grandfather and my father.

As for my kids, there's something innately healthy about open spaces. The ranch - and open spaces - breeds independence and critical thinking. It allows them to process thoughts and problems differently just because they’re given the literal space to figure it out.

What's your favorite cut of beef and how do you like it prepared?

A Ribeye is my favorite cut of beef. It's my wife's favorite cut of beef. My kids like it with fat in each bite. I mean that's it, a Prime-grade Ribeye. I usually prepare it on the grill with a little bit of garlic salt and pepper. 

Kane Cattle Company

Bartlesville, Oklahoma


Cows are bred and calves are born and raised every year on cow-calf farms and ranches, spending time grazing on grass pastures within sight of their mothers.

Learn More >


Between 6-12 months of age, cattle spend time at stocker and backgrounder farms and ranches where they graze on a variety of pastures. Here they gain weight and convert forage and grass into lean protein.

Learn More >