A focus on the commercial cattleman: Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company runs large operation focused on pleasing commercial customers around the U.S.
The Stevenson family has been in the ranching business for many generations and has raised registered Angus cattle for a long time, marketing bulls in over 60 sales. Clint Stevenson and his wife Adana own Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company in Judith Basin, Mont.
“I owe a lot to the generations who came before me, like my father who made it possible for me to buy our ranch in 1992 when we graduated from college and started a program of our own,” Clint says.
Focusing on the commercial cattlemen
Clint, Adana and their ranch crew strive to provide high-quality registered Black Angus cattle for the livestock industry, with a focus on the commercial cattle breeder. The cattle they produce are expected to perform exceptionally well in a harsh environment.
The ranch also grows some grain to sell, but mainly raises hay and forage for the cattle.
“Some of our customers have been buying bulls from our family for more than 50 years, longer than I have been alive,” notes Clint. “When we first bought our own place, we ran yearlings, then started a small group of registered cows and gradually expanded our herd. We sold our bulls with the rest of the family – three ranches under the name of Stevenson Basin Angus – until 12 years ago when we started having a sale of our own.”
A large family operation
Today, the ranch has 1,500 cows but only registers about 800 to 1,000 calves each year.
“One year we registered more than 2,000 calves, but 15 years ago we backed off a little on the size of the registered herd because good help was hard to find. We got out of some leases and put commercial cattle on some. The past several years we’ve had a great ranch crew, including one employee who started working with my dad the year I was born. He has been helping for 50-plus years. Several of our employees have been here since the mid-1990s and are very dependable help,” Clint says.
He explains there are two brothers who have worked for Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company for many years.
“I joke and say we have a family operation, but it’s not necessarily our family,” Clint laughs. “Our crew has become just like a family. Several of the guys have been here more than 20 years. It’s a great team.”
Clint and Adana have five children, four of which are very involved with the ranch.
“Our oldest daughter Faith didn’t go to college, instead she worked for several notable horse trainers. She’s back here now and has her own horse training business, but also helps on the ranch by doing most of our advertising. She gives riding lessons and brings in horses to train, but spends half her time working on the ranch,” Clint says.
“Our other daughters Abby and Rachael are both in college. One is studying to be a veterinarian and the other plans to go to law school. Our youngest child, Carson, is a senior in high school and plans to carry on the family tradition of ranching. He is a big help already when he’s not busy with school activities,” says Clint.
“It’s rewarding to have the kids involved with the ranch. When they take an interest, it is fun doing it together,” he continues.
Hosting a unique sale
Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company has a sale every year on the first Monday after Thanksgiving and a spring private treaty sale in March.
“In our fall bull sale we also sell commercial cattle raised by some of our customers,” Clint says, noting many ranchers around the area utilize their genetics.
“We start calving in mid-January. Some of the bulls we sell in November are 10-month-old calves. People buy them and grow them out the way they want. Calving in January is tough in our part of the country but calving later would not give those calves time to mature, and they wouldn’t look much like a bull at sale time,” Clint explains. “Some people don’t like to buy bulls so young, but others do because they can compare them to their own calves and put them into their own feeding program.”
Of the 240 bulls sold, Clint notes Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company winters around 160 bulls until March or later.
“Some customers don’t want to get a bull until the day they turn them out, and other buyers like to get them quicker and get them adapted to their new environment,” Clint says.
Bull calves at Stevenson’s Diamond Dot Cattle Company are weaned a little earlier than most, so the cows can get back in shape before the next calving season.
“We usually still have good grazing weather September through October, and if those cows don’t have a calf on them they do well. We sometimes even have a little trouble with them getting too fat before calving,” he says.
“Our breeding program has evolved,” Clint states. “We run our cows like commercial breeders do, and we’ve never gone for extremes. We try to have easy-fleshing genetics because many of our bulls go to areas with pretty rough terrain. Some years we sell a lot of bulls to New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, because people know they will hold up. There are so many bulls raised in our area a lot of them have to leave Montana,” he says.
“Our customers want bulls that look like they can do the job. Expected progeny differences (EPDs) are important, but most of our customers want the bull to look good when they get him, and still look good after the first breeding season without falling apart,” Clint explains.
One of the things unique to the Diamond Dot program is half of the bulls sell to repeat buyers who don’t attend the sale.
“They just give us orders and have us select bulls for them. We have several good salesmen who have been with us for years, helping sell bulls. Some customers have never been to our ranch. They just call and tell us to send them a certain number of bulls and tell us what they want and what’s important to them,” Clint says.
“We were probably one of the first ranches to use video sales. When we had our first sale on our own, about 12 years ago, we weren’t set up to run bulls through a ring,” Clint explains. “During the sale, our bulls are all outside the barn door, but pre-videoed with Superior.”
“We deliver bulls all over the country, free of charge. Some breeders charge for this service or only deliver within a certain number of miles, but we’d rather see them spend more on the bull and have it delivered to them for nothing,” he adds.
“We also sell bred cattle for about a dozen people through our sale. We’ve done this for years. We also help market feeder cattle for people. We rep and sell some of the best sets of feeder cattle in this area, a lot of which are sired by our bulls,” Clint continues.
“When we have our sale in the fall, it’s a community event because so many of our neighbors are selling bred heifers or calves at the sale. Some think this could have a negative effect on what our own commercial heifers sell for, but it gets more customers coming to the sale and in the long run, we feel it is beneficial to our whole community,” he says.
For more information, visit stevensonsdiamonddot.com.
Heather Smith Thomas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.