Deep Roots: Chant family shares strong passion for agriculture
Tom and Savanah Chant own and operate Chant Ranches in Carbon County. Tom also helps operate NL Land and Livestock, a family-owned Black Angus cow/calf and yearling operation in Carbon, Sweetwater and Fremont counties in Wyoming and Moffat County in Colorado; along with Tom’s mom Mary Hay and brother Archie Chant.
Tom’s ancestors Archie and Duncan Blair came to what is now known as Rock Springs and started their ranching operations in 1867. Tom’s grandfather ran sheep for many years on the ranch and sold what is now the Little Sandy Grazing Association in 1967. He sold out of sheep in 1975, and Tom’s parents converted the sheep operation to a cattle operation shortly after.
The Chants have made slight changes to their management practices over the years.
“We are still spring calving,” Tom says. “But, I calve a little later than my dad did. We calve around late April to the first of May.”
They are also starting to wean calves earlier.
“My goal is to keep a cow as a dry cow as much as I can, because I am asking for her to feed herself for 12 months of the year,” he says.
Tom says the Chants aren’t “chasing production.”
“We don’t have to have the bragging rights at the coffee shop as far as what we wean,” he says. “Sometimes, a lighter calf in the right management scheme can be the most profitable calf. As far as changes made, we are not always production focused, because now we are profit focused.”
Tom says managing an operation during drought conditions is always a challenge, and feral horses are problematic, as well.
“We have an ongoing feral horse issue which has never gone away – it’s gotten better at times, but it’s always a big issue,” he says. “We develop water and we can’t even keep our cows there because the horses come in and dominate the area.”
A small calf is an easy target for a wild horse stud, he says.
“We have maimed and crippled calves, and it seems to be as those horse numbers increase, my problems just get worse,” says Tom. “Trying to get the Bureau of Land Management to stay within their own guidelines is a big challenge for us.”
Tom says their grazing patterns are unique due to the dry conditions and little precipitation received each year.
“We are typically on a two-year grazing scheme, so where we graze this year, we can’t go there next year,” he says. “We have to let the plants get all they can just to hold the ground – it’s sandy ground to begin with.”
He says dealing with federal land management is always a challenge, and the multiple use concept will continue being challenged.
“We always make it through, but I would say my boys have more of a challenge now with what’s to come next,” he says. “If sage grouse get an endangered species listing, and we lose those permits, we don’t have the same operation without those permits.”
Passion for ag
Tom’s dad was a stockman, so stockmanship is something Tom has always valued.
“I value handling cattle and horses quietly,” he says. “I value quality animals, and I value the way people handle them.”
Tom says his love for agriculture is what gets him through tough times on the ranch.
“There’re days where we play defense and things don’t work out, but I think just my love for what we get to do here and the way we march to the beat of our own drum gets me through,” he says. “We get the opportunity to watch a baby calf be born and follow the calf through the year, manage our plants and manage our country.”
Tom has known he wanted to be a rancher since he was nine years old.
“I’m very fortunate I was blessed to have the ability to ranch,” he says.
He acknowledges how thankful he is for the opportunity his family was given to ranch.
“My mom held onto the ranch when it was a challenge for her to do so because she wanted to be able to give us the opportunity to take it over,” says Tom. “I would like to thank her for the opportunity she has given my family.”
“My goal is to raise two young men that have a passion for ag and a love for the land,” he adds. “Our roots are really deep and it takes more than a Wyoming west wind to uproot our roots.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.