Multi-enterprise operation: Humble mindset brings gratification for Dockery Ranch
Lusk – If there is a will, there is a way and this seems to be a mantra for the Dockery family. Starting from scratch with no family land, the family has operated by leasing ground and obtaining some of their own land little by little, which has led them to their operation today.
Matt Dockery finds what works in his operation is not just limited to one enterprise or practice. The Dockerys keep busy with anything from growing cover crops, custom haying, rotational grazing and raising custom beef.
More than one iron in the fire
The Dockery family does not shy away from hard work, as they did not get their start with family land. By leasing ground and purchasing smaller places along the way, they found themselves putting in a lot of upgrades to help bring their own operation success.
“We do a lot of rotational grazing, we’ve developed a lot of water, and have done a lot of fencing for our rotational grazing,” shares Matt. “One of the places we have has some old farm ground on it and we’re using some fall crops to graze and try to increase soil health.”
A mixture of rye, radishes and turnips can be found in the fall crop.
“It was awfully dry this year, but the little bit of snow we got late made the turnips grow really good, which gave them a lot of vegetable matter on top to graze,” notes Matt.
Matt likes the addition of manure onto fields while they are grazed, which adds more nutrients and productivity back to the soil. Then, the next spring the Dockerys will hay the rye, getting both a hay and grazing crop. Along with this, the family also custom bales hay for people around the county and add this to their stack as well.
The Dockery place runs a cow/calf operation and will run yearlings when the grass is permitting.
“The last few years we have taken most of our cattle to a feedlot and sold them as feeders,” explains Matt. “This year, we are going to try and feed some all the way to fats.”
This will be new territory for the Dockerys.
Matt’s wife, Tandy, also works as a realtor in town.
“We just kind of do everything we can to put this deal together,” says Matt.
In addition to the many moving pieces of their operation and business in town, Matt and Tandy are heavily involved in the Niobrara County community. Matt is chairman of the Conservation District and Tandy serves on the fair board. The pair shares the community organizations they’re involved in are incredibly important to them.
Dockery Ranch Custom Beef
The Dockerys found themselves seeking custom beef as away to get more for their cattle. Through this enterprise, they found taking market price on everything wasn’t going to get them where they needed to be.
“Taking market price for everything is pretty tough when you’re having to purchase land or even lease land at an accelerated value,” Matt says. “For years we’ve been buying cattle with good marbling expected progency differences (EPDs), and it seemed like at the sale barn, we just weren’t getting paid for our genetics.”
It is a balancing act though, to still producing good cattle for their operation that are able to handle the rough country they run in, but also produce good beef to sell.
“When you get them to the feedlot, you need something that will grow and finish well, so we just try to balance it all out,” shares Matt. “We usually feed out our beef by ourselves, except for this year. This will be the first year we start taking our custom beef somewhere else to be fed.”
Matt feels it is easier to take the cattle to feed this year as opposed to bringing the feed to the cattle.
The Dockerys have established a relationship with a packinghouse, making it easier to promote their beef.
“The packer is U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected, so it’s been a little easier to get our beef processed in a timely manner,” Matt states.
Social media and word of mouth has helped promote Dockery Ranch Custom Beef.
“We’ve had a lot of customers in the past buy beef from us and they pass it on and give us a good review,” shares Matt. “One thing we think is cool, is it is true custom beef. It’s been raised right here in our county and the people who buy it know it’s not an imported product.”
Dockery Ranch Custom Beef takes pride in their beef and will deliver to their customers’ doors, often traveling to do so.
For more information, visit dockeryranch.wordpress.com.
Delcy Bayles is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org