Quality comes first: Malson Angus and Herefords believes in raising high-quality cattle while spending quality time with family
Located near Parma, Idaho, Malson Angus and Herefords is a family operation involving Mark and Carla Malson and their five children. Mark started the ranch in 1979, after returning from his service in the Navy.
The land Mark started with was sagebrush-covered desert, so he began taking out the sagebrush and farming a variety of row crops. Since nothing would grow without irrigation, he put in fences and drilled wells. After he had a variety of crops and cattle feed growing, he put together a herd of registered Angus cows.
Evolving into a premier Angus ranch
Mark started buying Angus cows from area ranchers and his herd evolved into one of the premier Angus herds in the Northwest. This was the start of what has now become a well-established, registered cattle herd of about 250 Angus cows and 50 Hereford cows.
Over time, the ranch has grown to 1,700 deeded acres plus a small grazing allotment on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. The irrigation system includes five commercial wells, about 450 feet deep and pumping water from about 250 feet.
There are also a number of domestic wells supplying water to Ritchy waterers scattered throughout the pastures and pens. Fourteen pivots and many miles of wheel lines deliver water to most of the crops and one small field is watered by canal and syphon tubes.
Over the years, the row crops have been phased out. Now, alfalfa and various types of grasses, grains and corn fill the fields. Alfalfa is cut and baled into large square bales or is chopped and tarped for winter feed.
Family is the heart of the operation
Mark and his sons, Josh and Joe, are the day-to-day heart of the operation, along with one full-time employee. Many other family members play important roles in continued growth and success of the operation.
The family of seven has grown to include three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and nine grandchildren, with the newest grandbaby due in October. With lunches and dinners of 20-plus people, there are always many family members gathered at the ranch.
Sale time always brings the family together, along with community members and friends. The Malson’s annual female and bull sales have evolved over the years into one combined sale in the fall.
The Malsons say the best part of ranch life is being able to raise a family in such a positive environment. Working together, doing something they truly care about and watching the kids and grandkids grow up is what they appreciate. Not everyone has this kind of opportunity. They are all deeply involved and committed to this way of life and want it to grow and prosper.
“We appreciate the fact we are all so close and also live in a small, tight-knit community,” says Mark. “With Carla working in the schools, and the kids and grandkids involved in sports, 4-H and FFA, the community and school are a big part of our lives.”
The National Angus Tour was held at their ranch a few years ago and the whole community pitched in.
“There were more than 300 people here for lunch. The high school FFA group was serving lunch, helping with parking and booths and many others pitched in to pull it off,” says Carla.
Producing high-quality cattle
The Malsons are not as concerned about having the biggest sales or selling the largest number of cattle but focus on producing high-quality cattle their customers will appreciate.
“Our goal is to produce sound, good quality cattle that work for our customers. We sell bulls and females to both registered and commercial buyers. Our cattle do well in the show ring, and then we insist they come back and produce in the pasture,” Mark says.
“We’ve had a great deal of success in the show ring over the years, including showing champion females and bulls at the Idaho Roll of Victory Angus Show in Boise, Idaho, the Oregon State Fair in Salem, Ore., the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) in Billings, Mont. and at the North American International Livestock Expo (NAILE) in Louisville, Ken. Our program is based on our slogan, which is ‘Quality Comes First.’ Raising top-quality cattle we can pass on to our customers is our goal,” he continues.
Some people say no one can have winning show cattle that are also good producing seedstock, but the Malsons disagree.
“We want cattle that will do both. Once they are done in the show ring, they have to go out in the pasture and produce calves with qualities we need and our buyers want,” Mark says.
Staying active in agriculture
Running a ranch keeps them busy enough, but Mark and Carla have also been active over the years in a number of cattle organizations including the Idaho Angus Association, Western States Angus Association and National Junior Angus Association among others.
Mark and Carla’s son Josh and his wife Maggie are also very involved with cattle organizations and are currently very busy with positions in the Idaho Cattle Association (ICA). Josh is the ICA purebred chair and Maggie is cattlewomen board representative.
The younger generation of Malsons have also been active with showing cattle, holding offices in junior breed organizations, FFA and participating in various sports. The grandkids are now carrying on many of the same traditions, while also adding their own mark with more animal species, new sports and many extracurricular activities.
“This year has been especially challenging with the COVID-19 situation, but we feel blessed to be riding out this storm on a ranch. Being somewhat insulated from the issues facing many urban areas, ranch life has been pretty steady and more normal than most other people’s day-to-day lives. Cattle and crops don’t notice a pandemic, so work around the ranch has continued without too much interruption,” says Carla.
“There’s never a dull moment around the ranch with so many activities going on, but we all have the same goal – to provide an opportunity for our family to grow and prosper together as well as independently, and raise good quality cattle at the same time,” says Carla. “We are raising cattle and grandkids, and we want all of them to go out and do a good job in whatever environment they are in. A ranch is the best place to raise a family.”
For more information, visit malsonangus.com.
Heather Smith Thomas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.