Fifth generation ranchers find a passion for cattle
Torrington – Blake W. “B.W.” Ochsner and Rustin Roth are fifth generation cattle ranchers who are currently full-time operators of the Ochsner Roth Cattle Company. The ranch was established in 1913 and is also operated by their grandpa George Ochsner, fathers Blake Ochsner and Steve Roth and their uncle Rodney Ochsner.
The family-owned operation raises 250 registered Hereford cows and 350 registered Angus cows. They also sell registered Hereford and Angus bulls and operate a commercial bred heifer program.
Cousins B.W. and Rustin partially attribute their success as producers to the youth developmental programs they participated in while growing up, including FFA and 4-H.
“These programs had a huge impact on me,” B.W. says. “I wouldn’t have had near the knowledge or the drive for coming back to the ranch without them.”
“I think these programs really helped with keeping my interests going and exploring different categories of the whole ag basis,” adds Rustin. “It opened my eyes to see there’s more to ranching than just raising cattle.”
B.W. started showing cattle when he was eight years old and competed in meat and livestock judging in 4-H and FFA. He was able to participate at the national contests for both teams in 4-H and FFA, as well as agronomy for FFA.
He says it was fun to be around kids who shared the same interests in ranching, and it was eye opening to realize many kids don’t have access to agriculture every day.
“Seeing other kids who lived in town have an interest in agriculture showed Rustin and I how lucky we were to grow up on a ranch,” says B.W. “A lot of kids didn’t have a chance to be on a ranch every day.”
B.W. majored in agriculture business at Casper College and added an animal science minor while attending the University of Wyoming (UW).
He says his degree helped him see “what all goes into ranching on the business side of things.”
“It is important to have an understanding of the business side of a ranch because knowing how to manage your assets is critical in continuing a ranch’s success,” B.W. shares.
Rustin attended Eastern Wyoming College for two years and received a degree in livestock management at UW. He says this degree was helpful in general, but there was a specific course he found to have a lasting impact on him.
“A disease pathology course I enrolled in helped me learn how to diagnose and treat diseases found on the ranch,” he says.
Passion for ranching
B.W. attributes his passion for ranching to “constantly being immersed in agriculture while growing up.”
He says he never had another paying job, even while attending college and never seriously considered another occupation.
“Ranching is what I have always done and what I know best,” he says. “It wasn’t expected of us to come back to the ranch by any means, but it was sure hoped for.”
“Ranching is something I’ve wanted to do since I was little,” adds Rustin. “I spent every moment I could out on the ranch with my dad and grandpa.”
Although B.W. and Rustin love ranching, they admit there are constant challenges accompanying the job. B.W. says the time commitment ranching requires can be overwhelming at times.
“There’s constant work to be done on the ranch,” he says. “If you find yourself bored, you probably don’t have a very good work ethic.”
“Every day has its own set of challenges, but the rewards overpower the struggles,” says Rustin, noting the most rewarding aspect of ranching is getting to spend the beautiful days on the ranch. “We go through blizzards and dry spells, but then we get those nice summer or fall days – this is what we do it for.”
B.W. finds calving season to be the most rewarding aspect of ranching. Every fourth night during calving season, Rustin, B.W., Steve and Blake check on calves throughout the night and continue to work throughout the next day, which can be exhausting at times.
“Calving season is a stressful season, but the excitement of calves overwhelms the tiredness and stress of it all,” B.W. says. “Seeing all the babies and seeing the next generation of our herd being made makes it fun.”
Rustin agrees, saying, “Seeing baby calves, growing cattle and things working as they should makes you happy.”
Rustin and B.W. appreciate the unique family aspect which accompanies their ranch.
“We all rely on each other and have our niche of what we are really good at,” says Rustin. “We hold family values high and put family first and business second.”
“Everyone needs to get along and keep the ranch a priority for us to be successful,” B.W. adds.
B.W. and Rustin both realize being a new producer can be challenging. B.W. says new producers need to be willing to work and have a flexible lifestyle to be successful.
Rustin encourages young producers to “work through the hard times because the good times are always worth it.”
B.W. says the most successful producers have a passion for their operation.
“You need to have a love for cattle to be in this business,” he says.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.