Best of the best Five Wyoming ranches featured in Seedstock 100
Published on Feb. 22, 2020
The Seedstock 100 is assembled annually by BEEF Magazine as a means of monitoring the level of seedstock concentration and the relative market engagement of seedstock suppliers across the U.S.
Wyoming ranches included are Lucky 7 Angus of Boulder and Riverton, Redland Angus of Worland, Beckton Angus of Sheridan, MR Angus Ranch of Wheatland and Clay Creek Angus of Greybull.
“This list is meant to recognize the contribution of seedstock producers who make all or a substantial portion of their cattle income from seedstock business,” the organizers explain.
“Inclusion on the Seedstock 100 list speaks to a host of supplier attributes associated with the commitment and ability to market so many bulls year after year, such as customer trust and satisfaction, industry knowledge and adaptability,” says BEEF.
Lucky 7 Angus
Lucky 7 Angus got its start when James Jensen moved to Boulder from Denmark in 1895. According to their website, Jensen lived in a dugout and shoveled snow off the grass to keep his seven cows and three horses alive.
“We have been in the commercial cattle business in Wyoming as long as anyone,” says owner and operator Jim Jensen. “We got started in 1895 raising Herefords, I am the fifth generation on the ranch.”
The ranch is the number one feed efficiency program and number one high elevation program in the world.
The family began raising bulls out of necessity, after they had difficulty finding animals fit for the rugged conditions of Wyoming.
“I was disappointed by the bulls in the industry,” he says. “People would buy fat, pretty bulls and ruin a cowherd.”
He continues, “So, we decided to raise our own bulls in commercial ranch situations. Once we started, they were so popular we couldn’t raise enough of them.”
“We are totally opposite of everyone else in the industry,” Jensen explains. “We are raising our cattle in real-world conditions and they are tougher than what our customers need.”
Jensen stresses the importance of looking at scientific data when selecting cattle, instead of using emotions.
“Corn farmers have tripled production in the last 30 years,” he says. “They didn’t do that by looking at a seed and saying it was pretty. They got there by using sound science to make decisions and cattle producers should take the same approach.”
“I am grateful to be included in the Seedstock 100, but I don’t need awards to change my life,” he says. “I am just going to continue doing what I know is right, and stick with our goal to make our customers the most profitable in the industry.”
Females are the heart of the Redland Angus program, located in Worland and owned by Kendrick Redland and his wife Sharon.
“We’ve been in the cow business for a long time, practically our entire lives,” says Kendrick. “We’ve been in the livestock business our whole lives and are a typical multiple generation ranching business.”
Kendrick notes he is the third generation in his family to be involved in ranching.
“It was the late 1970s when we got started with just a few registered cows,” he says. “We wanted to find genetics that were raised in a ranching environment where they could be run out.”
He continues, “This need for ranch-raised cattle is what led us to buying registered cattle and running them in our environment so we would have cattle with the ability to thrive in harsh conditions.”
“Our biggest goal is to find genetics that work in a real-world ranching environment, almost 100 percent of our customers are commercial operators,” Kendrick says. “We select for cattle able to survive in an environment with little-to-no input and will stay in good condition.”
Kendrick notes they don’t plan on changing the operation much moving forward, as they have found what works for them.
“We are not very numbers driven,” he explains. “We more often choose based on phenotype. We want to continue to refine the process, but don’t plan on changing anything major.”
“Being recognized for our cattle isn’t a huge deal for us, we are just doing what we do,” he says. “If we happen to get recognized that’s great, but our main goal will always be to develop the best genetics for the commercial cow/calf operator in a least cost environment. We want to see our customers be profitable.”
Beckton Red Angus
One of the oldest ranches in the Sheridan area, Beckton Red Angus came under its current ownership in 1898 and continues to grow.
The original owner and namesake of the ranch, George Beck, built his house in 1886, which now serves as the ranch headquarters. The site was also the home of a post office and flour mill.
In 1936, Waldo Emerson Forbes established his home at Beckton and began building his commercial herd of Hereford cattle. In 1945, he began applying concepts of performance testing and genetic selection for economically important traits. Through this endeavor, he established a new breed of cattle, Red Angus.
He built his foundation herd from 18 Red Angus cattle from well-known Black Angus herds and the breed was officially established in 1954, with Forbes being the first president of the Red Angus Association.
Today, Beckton is the largest registered purebred Red Angus herd in the United States, running 1,050 mother cows, 350 replacement heifers and over 100 bulls. Cam Forbes is a co-owner and manager of the operation.
“Our goal is simple, to produce the best seedstock cattle we can,” says Cam. “We believe strongly in efficiency, meaning low-cost, fool-proof cattle that don’t require a lot of pampering.”
“In the future, we plan to make steady progress to improve our cattle across a number of different traits, we don’t ever want to focus on a single trait,” he says. “We look at the total needs of what commercial customers need, which is the bulk of our base.”
“It is always an honor to be listed nationally for anything, so we always appreciate that, but we don’t run our operation to get recognition,” he says. “It is heartening to have repeat customers year after year.”
Cam notes they have a growing customer base of small, alternatively marketed operations due to their bulls’ moderate frame size and ability to marble well on grass.
M.R. Angus Ranch
According to Jennifer Reyes-Burr, M.R. Angus Ranch was established in 1977 at Tie Siding by Juan and Joni Reyes. Through the help of good friends and mentors, Juan and Joni were able to acquire a place where they could build a herd of their own.
“Ranching at over 8,000 feet, it was quickly realized that finding a cowherd with the right genetics and conformation was of upmost importance to survive at high altitude,” says Jennifer. “After much consideration, the decision was made to expand by purchasing cows from the Fairview Ranch dispersal sale.”
She continues, “Most of which were of Canadian breeding. Today’s herd consists of over 1,000 head, which can be traced back to those original bloodlines.”
“About 10 years ago, we made some big changes to the way we operate here at M.R. Angus. We went from a January calving operation that sold yearling bulls in our annual sale, to June calving and offering 19-month-old bulls,” she says.
She continues, “The bulls summer at Tie Siding, typically from June to October. During that time, all they see is short mountain grass and mineral. The bulls are PAP tested at 8,000 feet the last week of September.”
“In the future, we hope to still be here providing high-quality bulls for producers across the region, bulls that can work in any environment,” Jennifer says. “I suppose the main goal is to remain a family operation that is successful and prosperous. It means a lot to us all to keep this in the Reyes Family.”
She notes her dad always jokes about the old saying, “The first generation builds it, the second generation holds it together and the third generation squanders it away. If you make me mad, I’ll be the first guy that does all three.”
“Although we laugh and roll our eyes, it really does hit home of what an awesome opportunity we have here and how humbling it is to hold the future in our hands,” she says, “Maybe someday we can pass this on to the next generation if the interest is there.”
“If it wasn’t for family being here and a small, hardworking crew, we wouldn’t be able to do everything we do,” says Jennifer. “Juan and Joni are starting to hand the reins over to their children allowing them more responsibilities and experiences. “
Son, Jason Reyes is in charge of all the cattle. He manages every aspect from herd health to pasture management. He is horseback every day and between good dogs, great horses and lots of drive, he gets it done.
Australian native, Mick Burr, Juan and Joni’s son-in-law, is in charge of all the farming, irrigating, mechanics and feeding during the winter months. Mick farms about 3,500 acres between corn, hay and small grains, as well as grass for pasture.
Jennifer is also on the place and bounces around between all sectors helping Mick and Jason wherever needed.
“I’d like to see the Reyes family continue to grow and strengthen our herd. We keep striving to find the right kind of cattle to use and thus producing bulls that will benefit the commercial cattleman,” she says.
“While it is nice to be recognized by the Seedstock 100, it’s not the most important to us,” Jennifer says. “We aren’t concerned with the number of bulls we sell, but the quality of bulls we sell to our long-term friends and buyers. Most of our customers have been with us for over 30 years.”
She continues, “It’s important for us to provide the best quality bulls we can to help our customers move forward. Just because it was born with testicles, doesn’t mean it should keep them. Of the 1,000 cows we calve out, we only retain half the bull crop for the sale.”
Clay Creek Angus
Clay Creek Angus is owned by Jim and Lori French, along with their son and daughter Charlie and Carlissa in Greybull.
Good females are the emphasis of their operation.
“At Clay Creek Angus, we believe in using herd sires that offer natural muscling, depth and frame,” says their website. “Over years of selective breeding, we have optimized our cattle herd by using bulls with high quality carcass traits as well. This combination has made a uniform group of females and bulls for the discriminating cowman.”
Carlissa, their daughter, works on the ranch along with her brother Charlie and notes the operation got its start when her father and grandfather bought a string of registered Angus cows out of Canada in 1969.
The main goals of Clay Creek Angus are to raise cattle with mothering ability, good feet, correct leg structure and good udders that our customers can utilize for productivity and profitability.
“We have found many of the bulls we raise out of our own females outperform many of the popular mainstream AI sires that we use to introduce new proven genetics,” says Carlissa.
“My grandfather, Richard French, said he never wanted to be in the hoof trimming business or the dairy business so he really focused on their feet and udders,” Carlissa says. “They have to have strong feet, good udders and some get up and go. We have always kept a closed herd and only keep our own replacement females because we know which animals will work in this harsh environment, high-pH soil, cold winters and hot, dry summers.”
She continues, “Cows and heifers calve together out in the open and they have to be able to calve on their own because we don’t hire any extra help.”
She notes they plan to continue growing and offering the same private treaty options for bulls, females and semen as they have since the beginning 51 years ago.
“Our buyers can come look at our bulls whenever they like,” she says. “It’s a lot less pressure than a typical auction setting and an overall easy process whether they need one bull or a semi load. We have sold cattle in 27 states, two Canadian provinces and four countries.”
“It is a great honor to be featured in the Seedstock 100. It’s great to have so many returning and new customers and we really owe thanks to all of them,” she says. “The customers let us know what they want in cattle and we do our best to provide it for them.”
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.