Cassi Hammerness’ Life with Livestock
15 July 2022

Raised on a Ranch to a Career in Cattle – Cassi Hammerness’ Life with Livestock


Posted by: Cassi Hammerness

My name is Cassi Hammerness, and I recently celebrated 12 years at Elanco – all of it on the U.S. Beef Team. I was raised on a cattle ranch in western North Dakota (my family uses Elanco products!), so the beef industry has always been a big part of who I am – and I am very passionate about it.

When I graduated college from North Dakota State University, I began my career on the beef team at Elanco, way down in Amarillo, Texas. It was hard to be so far away from anyone I knew, but I was quickly welcomed by my new Elanco teammates – many of whom have become best friends and still work at Elanco today (Clint Savoini, Jim Bob Carver, Alex Flake). I also realized that although feedyards are very different than cow/calf operations, the people were still the same great people that make up the beef industry. 

Making my way up in the beef industry…

After ten years as a sales rep, I transitioned to a district manager role and currently lead our Cattle West team, moving from Oklahoma to Montana. I currently manage 9 people. My team covers 13 states and a huge variety of customers – from feedyards in the Imperial Valley to beautiful mountain ranches to rural large animal veterinarians.  It’s really fun to get to work with such a talented team of Elanco reps, and I really hope that my experiences from a decade in sales can help guide and coach them. We continue to try and be the best at delivering value and service to our customers, while building solid relationships. Relationships are really the key to success in our industry! 

Life in the beef industry as a woman…

I was one of the few females on the beef team in that area at the time, but customers were very kind to me – treating me as a daughter and friend, even inviting me over for holidays when I could not be home with my family. They were also very eager and helpful, answering any questions I had and making time for me. I have found that if you show up, do what you say you are going to do and invest in relationships, customers are quick to respect and value you. When I got married in 2019, I had several customers make the trip up to North Dakota to attend my wedding. That was very special to me! 

Advice I would give women looking to get into the industry...

Find good mentors and build your network.  The more people you are exposed to and learn from, the more opportunities will be sent your way.  Get as involved as you can – sign up for ag leadership opportunities, go to industry events, etc.  And, if you are not from an ag background (which should not deter you AT ALL from entering the industry), try to find jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities that let you get some boots on the ground experience.  Work for a ranch or feedyard for a summer, help a neighbor work cattle, or ask a local vet if you can ride around with them for a day. 

For those in the industry, keep showing up and getting involved. I am in a Rural Education and Ag Leadership class in Montana that is a 2 year program, and I have grown so much personally and professionally in the 6 months I have been in the class thus far.  Those opportunities abound, especially for females in ag.  Take advantage of them to develop your skill set and grow your network. 

My life as a cattle sales rep…

As a sales rep, my job varied so much every day! Some days, I would be up well before the sun to pull feed samples from the first ration the cattle were fed or to check ears for any implant abscesses (Elanco has a product that prevents these). Other days, I would be driving through pens – looking at cattle with a manager who was proud to show me the “nice pen of Red Angus” he got in that week. Sometimes, I would have vets or nutritionists ride with me, spending time educating customers and answering all their tough questions.

My favorite thing about the job…

Ultimately, my favorite thing I did as a sales rep was providing a value-added service to customers. One of the most unique ways to do this as an Elanco rep is through our Elanco Knowledge Solutions (EKS) services, which includes a deep dive into customer data – analyzing it to help them make decisions.

I also loved to train the crews. I speak Spanish, and it’s fun to feed lunch to a feedyard crew and invest a few hours into educating them in their native language (most folks working in the southern U.S. feedyards only speak Spanish). I love that Elanco has so many resources and tools available to help us provide services to our customers!

I also really love how beef customers are so passionate about the land, their cattle, and their legacy….. it is truly amazing to get to be a part of such an incredible group of people. There is no better job than riding a horse through a pasture of cattle with a rancher or being able to drive down the pens at a feedyard with a manager, hearing them talk about their animals and operation. 

And a little bit about me…

On a personal level, my husband, Bill and I just welcomed our first baby to the world on June 27th – a little boy named Henry (Hank) William. I love riding horses and barrel racing, traveling, and just being involved in agricultural and beef industry events on a local and national level. I feel so fortunate to be able to work at Elanco with so many folks that I consider to be like family, and I am honored and privileged to work in such an amazing industry that works so hard to provide the world with protein.

Have a beef industry question? Feel free to reach out to me!


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