Learning off the ranch
Published on Feb. 8, 2020
Katie Ochsner is no stranger to the cattle business. The Torrington native grew up the fifth generation on the George Ochsner Ranch, a registered Hereford and Angus operation. Though she no longer lives on the ranch full time, Ochsner is able to take her experiences working for the Red Angus Association of America and bring knowledge back to the ranch.
History in agriculture
Growing up, Ochsner was always involved on the ranch and began showing cattle at a young age.
“As a kid, we showed our own livestock at the local county fair and a handful of national shows,” she explains. “We had a passion for show cattle, but it was also a really good way to advertise our genetics and learn the work ethic that goes along with showing cattle.”
As Ochsner got older, she began judging livestock through 4-H and FFA and would continue through college.
“I went to Casper College to livestock judge and continued on at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL),” she says. “I had a continued interest in the beef industry and pursued a degree in Animal Science. I continued at UNL and got a master’s degree in animal breeding and genetics.”
Career and the ranch
“My interests growing up and in college eventually led me to where I am now in my career, working as the commercial marketing coordinator for the Red Angus Association of America.”
Though her degrees were more animal science focused, she notes she enjoys her role on the marketing side of the cattle business.
“My job is to help commercial producers achieve top dollar for their calves,” she explains. “I get to use my experiences from the ranch to relate to the Red Angus producers I work with.”
She continues, “If they want to talk about ranch management, I can bring up stories of my own, relate to them and help them make decisions from there.”
“It is invaluable experience one can only acquire if they’ve had the privilege of growing up on a ranch,” she says. “When I talk to customers, their demeanor changes when they realize I have hands-on knowledge of the beef industry and I can get a lot further with helping them.”
“I have had the opportunity to gain so much knowledge through traveling with my job and I can come home with ideas from all over the country,” she explains. “I get to talk with ranchers about how they do things differently on their place. It could be anything from how they have their working facilities set up, to what and how they’re feeding their cattle.”
“I’m constantly making a mental list of things I could bring back home to the ranch,” she says. “It’s a good balance since I’m not there full time putting in the sweat equity.”
“The real key to family operations is communication and a stubbornness to get along because very rarely will everyone have the same opinion,” she says. “Everyone has to remain level headed and be willing to talk it through.”
The family has long been committed to keeping the ranch sustainable and able to be passed on for generations to come.
In 2019, the family was awarded the State Stewardship Award, presented by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
“Our view has always been that if the land takes care of us, we should take care of it,” she explains. “The only way a ranch makes it five generations is by taking care of the land and being sustainable long term.”
“I am truly appreciative for the opportunities I have as a young professional in the agriculture industry to travel and hear some of the great things other producers have to say about my family’s operation,” she says. “It’s easy to get a single-track mind and take for granted the legacy my family has built. As much as I enjoy my career, it is always good to get back home to the ranch.”
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.