Price Ranch: Long-time Sublette County ranchers continue with fifth generation
Daniel – The Price Ranch is located in the Upper Green River Valley of western Wyoming near the small town of Daniel. Kent Price is the fourth generation; his great-grandfather homesteaded the area.
“My parents are still on the ranch,” Kent says. “It is actually broken into three segments – the original homestead is a little farther south.”
He shares, “My wife and I live on the piece that’s a little more toward the north, and the third piece is to the west in the Wyoming Range.”
Price Ranch cattle
“We raise Black Angus and Hereford crossbred cattle, but also have a small herd of purebred Black Angus, primarily to raise our own bulls,” Kent explains. “I was very young when my father started the purebred herd – about 30 to 35 years ago.”
Kent shares, originally almost everyone in this part of the country had Herefords.
“My great uncle owned this ranch and my parents bought it from him,” he continues. “At the time, it was a Hereford ranch, but somewhere along the way, my dad started to use Black Angus bulls for crossbreeding.”
Kent adds, “At some point he decided to have a purebred herd so he could raise the kind of bulls he wanted, to use on the Hereford cows. He also wanted to get away from pink udders that get sunburned and pink eyes that are prone to cancer and pink eye.”
The purebred herd was intended to raise bulls for their own ranch, but the Price family also sells a few of the extra bulls to neighbors. These bulls are acclimated to this kind of environment and sire calves that do well at high altitudes.
Grazing the Green River Drift
“We are part of the Upper Green River Cattle Association and the Green River Drift,” Kent says.
This involves one of the oldest, longest cattle drives in North America still done on horseback. Every year, ranchers in the valley near Pinedale, who run cattle on the range association, pool their cattle and trail them up into the Wind River Mountains.
“In May, we kick most of our cattle out on our Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit, and then in June we take them up into the forest for the summer,” Kent shares. “Then, we bring them home in early October.”
This schedule allows the Price family to grow hay on their irrigated pastures at home to produce forage for winter feeding. While the commercial herd goes to the mountain for the summer, the purebred herd is kept separate, and they don’t go up on the Drift.
First-calf heifers are also kept separate from the main herd.
“We put those pairs on our other property in the Wyoming Range,” Kent explains. “This is partly to breed them the way we want, but mainly to minimize losses – we have to deal with wolves and grizzly bears.”
Running cattle in grizzly country
“The grizzly bears are the worst for depredating on cattle,” Kent says. “Not that the wolves can’t be a problem, but since Wyoming has had control of the wolves, they have not been much of an issue – grizzly bears are another matter.”
The cattle range is in bear country, and the grizzly bears are by far the worst predators. According to Kent, first-calf heifers are still inexperienced mothers and are not as good at protecting their calves from predators.
“They take the worst losses, so this is why we keep them in a safer place,” Kent explains.
The forest range is high elevation, with some of the highest pastures running up to 9,000-plus feet.
“Brisket disease is a big thing we watch for, and we try to weed out cattle susceptible to this high-elevation problem,” Kent explains. “In our purebred herd, we pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) test all yearling bulls and heifers and try to weed out any problem animals. This helps, but we still have an occasional problem in the main herd.”
Some bloodlines are more susceptible to problems at higher altitudes.
“We make PAP testing a priority, and we watch for this when we are buying bulls,” Kent says.
However, respiratory problems and calf losses are not always due entirely to brisket disease.
“Sometimes it’s a genetic thing, but if a calf has pneumonia early on in life, this can also cause a problem later with brisket disease because an animal’s lungs are already compromised and impaired,” Kent explains. “We can’t blame it all on genetics.”
The Price Ranch is a family operation, with the fifth generation growing up on the ranch. Before he got married, Kent spent some time working in other parts of the country. In 2008, he moved his young family back to the ranch where he grew up, which they share with his parents Charles and DeeAnn Price.
Kent and his wife Lovella Dawn now have three children and another one on the way. Their boys are 11-year-old Tyrell, eight-year-old Titus and two-year-old Trevin. Kent shares the older two enjoy helping on the ranch.
“They are always out and about with us, and they like to ride,” he adds. “We do a lot of riding on the Drift to check and move the cattle.”
The Price family has a herd of horses on the ranch, used for cattle work.
“I haven’t raised any horses for a while – I have been buying young, green-broke horses that are started, but they learn more on the job,” Kent explains.
The ranch is a great place for kids to grow up.
Off the ranch education
“I was lucky enough to grow up on the ranch, but I also had the chance to go out and see some other things and then come back,” Kent says. “I went to college and got a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.”
Kent’s father Charles also spent some time off the ranch when he was younger. Charles is a nuclear engineer who once worked for the Department of Energy at the Hanford Site in Idaho.
Following college, Kent spent some time working for a pump manufacturing company in Montana.
“Through this company, I got to know some other people who were in the waste water treatment business,” he explains. “I ended up working in that business in Wisconsin. Then, I got married and decided to move back to the ranch.”
After immersing himself in ranching again, Kent got a phone call from a company who asked if he’d like to work in the waste water treatment business again, but this time in Wyoming.
“This is something I can do from here, so this has become a side job. I primarily sell equipment for waste water treatment,” he explains.
Thanks to modern technology, this job is something Kent can often do by phone, even when he is out riding to check or move cattle.
“Ranching is a great way of life, but sometimes it’s a bit tough,” he says. “We take the bad with the good. Sometimes we complain about the weather and the hard work, but we wouldn’t keep doing this if we didn’t like it.”
He continues, “We live in a great place, and I am so glad to be able to raise my family here.”
Heather Smith Thomas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.