Farmers and Ranchers Care

Stories about REAL Montana Farmers and Ranchers and how they care for their animals

Congratulations, you’ve found your source for information about farms and ranches in Montana! Find out how the food you eat is made by the people actually making it and learn how the farmers and ranchers are protecting your environment.

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May 17th, 2012: Healthy beef, from our family to yours

Meet Montana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Chair, Peter Taylor. Peter ranches in Kirby, MT, in the Wolf Mountains with his family, brothers and parents. Peter’s grandfather purchased the original place in 1947.

The Taylor Ranch runs a commercial herd of predominantly black Angus and black baldies with a few full bred Hereford cows. The ranch puts up 1000-2000 tons of hay per year depending on how much rain they receive in a year. Peter explains that they keep about 150 to 200 replacement heifers (heifer calves who will eventually raise their own calves and replace the older cows who are taken out of the herd) per year, and will usually keep their light steers (castrated male cattle raised for beef) on the ranch at least until they are yearlings (one-year-olds) before they are sold. The replacements and lighter weight calves are fed hay on the ranch during the winter and then turned out into large grass pastures as early as possible in the spring. They have to wait for the snow to melt and the grass to grow sufficiently before they can turn the yearlings into the large pastures so they have enough to eat without supplemental hay feeding.

In addition to raising cattle, the Taylors raise horses. Peter explains that they raise around 12 Thoroughbred brood mares that have been bred to an Argentine Thoroughbred stud. The offspring of that cross are currently being bred to one of two AQHA studs. Peter notes, “We have worked hard to raise horses with good cow sense, and a whole lot of travel and go. It’s not just important to us that they can travel long miles but they also need to be comfortable for the guy on their back.”

As a young rancher who wants to raise his family on the ranch and eventually pass it on to his children, he feels very strongly about two subjects: the federal estate and capital gains taxes and defending agriculture against all of the current attacks.

“Let’s face it, passing on the ranch to the next generation is critical to keeping food production in our country viable, and for our Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, eliminating the estate tax and reducing the capital gains tax on agricultural lands is a number-one priority,” says Peter. “My grandmother passed away two years ago, and we are still waiting to see what the tax bill is on their estate. I truly believe that both the estate tax and capital gains taxes hurt any opportunity ranchers have to grow their businesses. We have three families living on this ranch now, and our chance to grow is extremely difficult. I don’t see how with my kids and my brothers’ kids will be able to pass anything on with enough production value to be significant to them. Land values are so high, many ranches far exceed the estate tax limit. Some ranchers around here have been forced to subdivide the place just to cover their estate tax bill.”

Peter is also very passionate about speaking out for agriculture. “I see a real need for people my age to be talking to their peers and defending agriculture,” Peter says. “It’s great that groups like Farm Bureau educate younger kids about agriculture in the schools, but if those students go home and their parents believe the erroneous articles in The New York Times and TIME, they’ll just undo all the hard work that goes into those programs.”

Peter says his big push is to use social networking venues like Facebook, to talk to his friends and acquaintances and say, “This information is wrong. Now HERE are the facts.”

May 16th, 2012: Ranchers care for their land and animals

The Martinell’s settled into the Dell, Montana area in 1893, and since then have taken great pride in caring for the land and livestock that they raise. Our ranch is now in the 5th generation and we feel strongly that we need to continue to keep the tradition of ranching going for more generations to come. We raise commercial (not “registered” as members of a specific breed) cattle and sell the calves to be used to help feed our country. We also raise hay to feed our animals. How to best care for our land and our animals is something that is on a rancher’s mind every day.

One of our passions is taking care of our pastures that our animals graze on; this includes many days of spraying weeds so the weeds do not compromise the grass that feeds the livestock. Our family ranch also trails our cattle to and from summer range each year, moving them to optimally utilize grass at different locations and maximize animal performance to the best of our ability. When we trail cows in the summer we always start very early in the morning to beat the heat and have the cows to their destination before the hottest part of the day. After trailing them we make sure that they are pushed to water so they are able to get rested and something to eat for the next day. If there is doctoring that needs done, our day does not end when the cattle are done, we will take time to make sure all the animals are healthy. We trail our cows approximately 120 miles per year (usually around 10 miles per day for 3 days, or 30 miles at a time). Healthy cattle and land is not simply an idealistic goal, it is necessary in order to stay in business for the long term. In this picture, we are trailing a herd of cattle in preparation for weaning calves in the fall.

Ranching is a rewarding way of life and something that Heath and his wife, Kiley, want to instill in their three young children. It is very hard work and we put in long days, as the livestock come first. Caring for our land and livestock is the most important thing we do on our ranch, if we didn’t we would no longer be able to do our part to provide safe, healthy beef for consumers.

May 15th, 2012: Ranchers: Proud to care for their animals.

Gretchen Schubert is a 3rd generation rancher from Huntley, Montana.  She has always loved life on the ranch because she enjoys the outdoors and all the work involved in running a ranch, whether it’s working cattle or haying.  She especially enjoys springtime on the ranch because that’s when the grass starts to green up and all the new calves are born.

Gretchen and her husband, Jim, raise Red Angus cattle on their ranch.  They are the first of the three generations to raise “red” cattle as Gretchen’s father ran mostly Black Angus.  The cattle shown in this picture with Gretchen are yearling heifers, meaning they are female cattle between the ages of 1 and 2 who have not calved.  At the time this picture was taken, Gretchen had just put the bulls in with the heifers.  Ranchers try to manage their herds so calves will be born at the ideal time of year.  To do that, ranchers like Gretchen allow their bulls to breed heifers and cows (female cattle who have given birth to at least one calf) only during a certain time of the year.  The gestation period of cattle is about 285 days so if the bulls and heifers are together in the beginning of June, ranchers expect calves to be born around the middle of March.

Gretchen is very proud of her cattle and the way she cares for them.  “When a farmer or rancher has animals, it is their duty to care for them and we proudly do it, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because we want to.”

Gretchen is a very busy lady.  In addition to taking care of her ranch duties, she is a part time crop adjuster and the Montana Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) Chairperson.  As the WLC chairperson, she shares information with the public about agriculture and about eating healthy on a tight budget.  She also informs Montana’s Congressional delegation about important agriculture issues affecting Montana’s farmers and ranchers.  She feels it is important to make time to talk to our legislators in order to help them make informed decisions that benefit Montana.

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