45 years of constant improvement, Tipton Ranch raises quality Hereford cattle
Lewellen, Neb. – Tipton Ranch is a diversified livestock operation located 21 miles northeast of Lewellen, Neb.
“We started out with lots of energy and little equity, and what we have now is the result of 45 years of learning from our mistakes,” states Mike Tipton, Tipton Ranch owner and operator.
For Mike and his wife Belinda, Hereford cattle have always been a part of their lives.
“Both of us were raised in Hereford families and showed in 4-H with our Herefords,” says Tipton.
The Tiptons originally established their operation in North Park, Colo. 45 years ago, while working for other ranches and registered cattle programs of various breeds.
“We started the herd with 35 bred heifers we bought from the Upstream Ranch,” Tipton notes.
In 1984, Tipton Ranch moved to the Sandhills of western Nebraska, where they had the opportunity to become first-time landowners and where they have been ever since.
Over the years, the Tipton children Rindy, Tad and Kinsey grew up helping their parents on the family ranch until they graduated college and went their own ways.
“All the kids had their own Herefords, showed cattle in 4-H and were active in multiple county, state and national livestock shows,” adds Tipton.
Now, Rindy and Tad, along with their families, live and work in Sheridan, while Kinsey and her husband live in Lander.
Tipton Ranch is a diversified livestock operation where they raise registered Herefords, run a commercial cattle herd and operate a commercial feedyard.
“On site, we also have a heifer development and custom artificial insemination (AI) program and run yearlings on grass and rye pastures,” Tipton mentions.
“In the last 45 years, we’ve been able to eliminate a lot of problems and focus on profitability from a production standpoint,” states Tipton, adding, “Our approach is being cost effective for ourselves, as well as our customers.”
Out of the registered Hereford herd, 55 to 85 two-year-old bulls are sold by private treaty, while most of the steer calves are either finished in the feedyard or sold as yearlings, depending on the cattle market.
Tipton Ranch concentrates on proven genetics that are validated not only by the Tipton family but to many commercial operators, and they have feedlot data to show their genetics are working.
“Our cattle are easy to look at and have won their share of awards, but the real emphasis has always been on providing bulls for commercial cattlemen who make their living with their cattle,” Tipton notes.
On the ranch, there are four pivots where rye, sorghum and sudangrass mixes are grown to feed the cattle during the year, along with native hay.
“The economics involved with our various enterprises have given us tremendous insight into all aspects of the cattle business and have greatly influenced our decision-making for our registered operation,” he adds.
Benefits and struggles
According to Tipton, the Sandhills of Nebraska have a lot of benefits, but there are also a few challenges.
“There’s better grass country, and there’s worse grass country, but this area has some of the best average grass country,” notes Tipton.
He says there are a large number of grasses and forbs to graze, including cool, intermediate, late and warm-season grasses.
The ranch utilizes a combination of windmills and submersible pumps to provide stock water to all the pastures.
“We are fortunate to have excellent water. We can drink out of any well on the place,” Tipton states.
Other benefits he mentions include the proximity to sale barns, feedyards, packing plants and feeds unavailable in other areas.
“There is a lot of opportunity in Nebraska, and it’s in the heart of cattle country,” Tipton states.
“This part of the Sandhills can have its share of weather, regulation and market issues, but it’s a great place to live,” he claims.
Most of the challenges the Tipton Ranch faces are challenges any other producer faces, states Tipton.
“In today’s economic environment, it’s difficult to survive by being average,” he says. “We really are blessed with where we live and by the opportunities western Nebraska offers.”
Agriculture can be challenging, but both Mike and Belinda like the industry and the people they deal with.
“We grew up in agricultural environments, and it’s what we’ve always done. We like the way of life and think it’s a great way to raise a family,” he says.
Tipton believes if people do what they like, they are usually successful.
“Surviving in the cattle industry has always been a long-term goal and has been a driving factor for us in our business,” Tipton adds.
For more information, visit tipton-ranch.com/wp.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.