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Functional and efficient multi-breed operation: MJB Ranch provides multiple breeds to satisfy commercial cattlemen’s crossbreeding needs

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In the early 1900s, the Brown family, who had been living in New Mexico, flipped a coin to decide if they would head east and go back to Texas or head north to Montana.  

“The coin toss dictated they would come up to Montana, so they rode the train up and got off at Sheridan, which is how they ended up in this part of the world,” explains Jim Doubet, co-owner and operator of MJB Ranch, headquartered in Lodge Grass, Mont.  

Today, MJB Ranch raises four registered herds of Angus, South Devon, Hereford and Salers cattle. They also farm wheat, barley and alfalfa. 

Three generations at the ranch 

Currently, the families involved with MJB Ranch represent the third, fourth and fifth generations of the Brown family.  

“The ranch is owned and operated by Jim and Mary Brown, and they have three children – Sherry, Dale and Matt – who were all active in the cattle operation growing up,” Jim explains. “Sherry is my wife, and we have three sons – Curtis, Cody and Justin. Curtis is the livestock judging team coach at the University of Wyoming, and Justin is a student and member of the judging team at UW. Cody is a sales representative for Merck Animal Health based in McCook, Neb.”  

“Dale and his family live in Big Horn,” Jim continues. “Matt heads up the farming and haying and owns Angus, South Devon and Hereford cattle along with Jim and Mary. His children Maddie and McCade help out on the ranch as well.” 

“In order for a family operation to be successful, there needs to be a tremendous amount of communication,” Jim says. “With our multiple breed operation, it is important we have similar objectives and maintain those objectives throughout our herds.”   

Functional, efficient, multi-breed operation  

As far as the different registered herds go, Jim says the goal of MJB Ranch is to provide commercial cattle producers with profitable, problem-free, functional and efficient cattle. 

  “Our ongoing quest is to make our cattle as problem free as possible. We want our customers’ cattle to calve easy when bred to our bulls, and we want their offspring to have plenty of calf vigor and go on to be heavy at weaning,” Jim says.   

Jim notes in addition to working toward a problem-free herd, MJB Ranch is also focused on functionality. 

“There are currently some major issues in the industry with foot structure,” he states. “As a seedstock operation, we are trying to be very conscientious of this issue so we aren’t introducing feet and leg issues to our commercial customers.”  

Jim says MJB Ranch also believes cattle need to be efficient in both a reproductive and productive sense. 

“Quite a few of our cattle are feed efficiency tested because we believe cattle need to be both reproductively efficient and feed efficient,” he says. “I’m not sure how many other registered operations still have their cows out grazing, but we try to have them grazing until a few weeks before calving. There are years the snow is just too deep, and we will have to feed hay early but not if we don’t have to. We can get quite a bit of snow here.”  

“We start calving in a few weeks, and we try to run our cows as similarly to a commercial operation as we can in regards to feed resources,” he continues. “We want our cattle to go out, cover some country and graze. We don’t want them waiting at the gate for a handout.”  

Additionally, Jim notes by raising multiple breeds, MJB Ranch is able to satisfy a wide range of producers’ crossbreeding needs.  

“We can offer our customers the longevity, superior maternal traits and good carcass quality of Salers cattle as well as the hardiness of the Hereford,” says Jim. “We also offer the good maternal characteristics, efficiency and carcass quality of South Devon cattle and the excellent marbling characteristics and maternal traits of Angus cattle.”  

Marketing bulls, satisfied customers 

With multiple different herds comes multiple calving seasons. In fact, Jim notes MJB Ranch calves some of their Angus and South Devon cows in the fall, and they are currently gearing up to start calving their spring calvers. Jim notes their heifers will begin calving in February.  

“We calve during fall and spring because we have some demand for the older fall-calved bulls,” Jim says. “We don’t push our bulls as hard as some seedstock producers, so having a little extra age on them is an advantage.”  

MJB Ranch sells nearly 200 bulls a year through annual production sales and private treaty.  

“The Angus bulls are either sold through Midland Bull Test or the Beef Country Sale held at Midland in the fall, and the South Devon bulls are sold at the Midland Bull Test as well,” explains Jim, noting the Hereford and Saler bulls are all sold private treaty. 

“We pride ourselves specifically on our sight unseen private treaty purchases,” he says. “We have a customer who bought from us for 10 years, and his son has continued buying from us for another five. They have never been in our bull pen or on our property. They just tell us what they need and want, and we pick bulls out for them that will fit their needs.” 

Jim continues, “We have a very high return customer rate, and we stand behind our cattle. Bulls are bulls and things happen, but we are always willing to work with our clientele so we have satisfied customers.”  

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Hannah Bugas is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to  

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