Three-breed, family operation: Shaw Cattle Company
Shaw Cattle Company got its start in 1946, after Tom Shaw received a Hereford heifer as a graduation gift.
“In 1946, my granddad came back from service in World War II. Prior to that, he worked on a registered Hereford ranch in high school, and the guy he worked for promised him a Hereford heifer as a graduation gift,” explains Tucker Shaw, current owner and operator of Shaw Cattle Company. “When he came back from the war, my granddad’s old boss called and reminded my granddad he had a heifer for him.”
“So, my granddad went and picked out his heifer, and that is how we got our start in the registered cattle business,” Tucker continues.
Diversifying the operation
Tom’s son Greg officially joined the operation after graduating from college in 1968, and in 1988, the Shaw family’s cowherd was divided into three herds. Greg, his wife, Cleo and their three children, Tucker, Sam and Jaime, stayed at the original homeplace and formed their family operation, Shaw Cattle Company.
Upon their return to the ranch after graduating from college, Tucker and Sam decided to diversify Shaw Cattle Company. Subsequently, they added Black and Red Angus cattle to their operation.
“These were the main breeds of bulls our customers were using, and we thought the three breeds would complement each other on our operation,” Tucker explains.
Now, Greg, Cleo, Tucker, Sam and their respective families are continuing the Shaw family tradition of raising high-quality cattle with balanced traits.
“The goal of our operation is multi-pronged. We both have kids who are very interested in the ranch, so our long-term goal is to be able to sustain our ranch for the next generation,” states Tucker. “In order to accomplish this, we need to raise functional, maternal genetics that will work for our customers.”
In an effort to execute this, Tucker notes the Shaw family’s cowherd has evolved from using intense artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET) programs.
“We have been actively using AI and ET for close to 30 years now,” says Tucker. “Our calf crop is between 85 to 90 percent AI sired or embryo transferred. “
Because they are a fall-calving operation, the Shaw family is currently busy calving out their cows.
“Fall is our busiest time of year. On top of calving, we are working our weaned bull calves. In fact, we just gave them their second round of weaning vaccinations, and we are making our initial sort to get ready for our bull sale in February,” Tucker says.
Raising bulls for big country
As far as the bulls go, Tucker explains the focus is on raising bulls that will work for their customers on big country.
“Nearly all of the bulls we sell stay in a 400-mile radius of the ranch. They are going to western Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and California, so they need to be able to work in the high deserts of the West,” he notes. “They need to be balanced, good-structured cattle. We try not to chase any fads or single traits. Our cattle need to be balanced in many traits and work for everybody.”
Shaw Cattle Company holds their annual production sale in the middle of February, where they sell 450 yearling and fall-yearling bulls. They also market another 150 bulls private treaty throughout the year.
“This year we were very fortunate that our sale took place before the coronavirus,” Tucker says. “We had a great sale this year. Customers in most of our marketing area had a drier, warmer winter than usual so they weren’t dealing with a lot of snow, and we had a really big crowd.”
For more information, visit shawcattle.com.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.