Family Tradition: Cobb Cattle Co. has seen changes through the years
Savery – Located between the Red Desert to the west and the Sierra Madre Mountains to the east, the Cobb Cattle Co. family traditions have continued since its establishment in the 1980s. Today, the operation raises Black Angus/Simmental cow/calf pairs.
The Cobb Cattle Co. family ranch includes Jack Cobb, his wife Diana, son Tyson and daughters Ashley Dishman (Cobb) and Jacquelyn Harvey (Cobb).
Jack’s father Tom Cobb, at age 86 years old, continues to help on the ranch and can be seen checking cattle on his motorcycle, helping cut hay and other various jobs. Ranching has been his passion and purpose for over 70 years.
“We have a very close family,” mentions Jack. “I also have several nephews and nieces, and pretty much all of them live within three to four miles of the ranch and are still involved with the outfitting of the ranch and the lands we operate on – it’s a family dynasty – the whole family is involved and wants to be a part of it.”
The ranch has changed a lot over the years, notes Jack.
“My dad talked about doing loose hay and having to pitch fork hay onto a sled and pitch fork it off in the winter time,” he explains. “He says when they got the first small square baler, it was just incredible to have that and not have to pitch it on. After they got the first stack wagon, he thought, man, it can’t get any better than this.”
Roughly 35 years ago, the ranch switched over to round bales, and it really changed the operation of the ranch and lightened the workload, Jack mentions.
“It still takes us a while to hay because we’ve been fortunate enough through the years to increase the size of our ranch to be able to sustain it,” he says. “My dad did a good job in the 80s of purchasing land and being able to expand the ranch through the years since then.”
Jack mentions it’s important for them to keep the ranch sustainable and to be able to pass on the ranch for future generations in years to come.
The ranch has always been a cow/calf operation and for 40 years has also finished cattle out in feedlots in eastern Colorado. It first started out with a Hereford cattle herd, then switched to Angus-based herd with some Red Simmental influence in the 80s, but now, the ranch consists of mostly Angus-based bred cattle with some Black Simmental influence, Jack notes.
“We’ve built some diversity into our cattle,” he adds.
For the last four generations, the ranch has been called the Cobb Cattle Co. but before then, it came from Jack’s great-grandmother’s side with the Morgan and Kilgore families.
“We still have the old homestead here on the ranch,” says Jack. “We’ve been fortunate because we’ve been able to increase the size of our ranch with our neighbors – we’re pretty tied together with what we do.”
The ranch will start calving in the spring, typically in March and then start branding later in April or beginning of May, mentions Tyson.
“We start irrigating around the first part of May and start the haying season in July through August,” he shares. “In mid-September, we start pulling calves off the mountain to wean and in November, depending on the weather, we’re bringing cattle off of the mountain back into the valley and start feeding in December through the winter. The process starts over the beginning of March.”
When Cobb Cattle Co. buys bulls, they focus on purchasing bulls with good numbers and make sure they are pulmonary arterial pressure tested for brisket disease.
“We want to make sure they can handle our high elevations,” says Tyson. “They go from 7,000 to 9,000 feet – we really pay attention to good numbers in our bulls to make sure our calves can handle those higher elevations.”
Expansion and challenges
The ranch expanded in 2021, and Tyson notes their goal is to keep growing as much as they can.
“It’s hard because land is expensive and the cattle prices aren’t going up like everything else is in the world right now,” he shares. “The drought has been another challenge – we’ve been in a drought for quite some time – any moisture we get, we’re thankful for.”
“COVID-19 enhanced the want of moving more to the rural areas,” Jack says. “The struggle, for not only us but the whole community, is this is a very family, ranching community and we’re blessed to have the family ranches here. This has been a big topic within the community – the sustainability of some of these family ranches and what we can do to help ensure ranches stay within families.”
He adds, “We’re right in the middle of it as a family because we believe in it so much – to keep our neighbors in business because that’s what makes ranching fun – to have the neighbors that we have and the families – it just makes it a special place to continue to do what we’ve done for generations, but it’s more of a struggle because there’s more and more people wanting to move to the Little Snake River Valley.”
“No one wants to sell land and that’s one of the biggest complaints,” he says. “It’s because the family ranches have so far been able to sustain what they have and stay in business – it is a struggle for us and our family.”
For sixth-generation rancher Tyson, growing up on the family ranch meant a lot to him.
“I started working on the ranch at a very young age and it has become my passion to take over the ranch someday,” Tyson says. “I moved away for a bit and worked with one of my cousins doing construction work and it opened my eyes to my ranching roots, and I soon realized it was what I really wanted to do.”
Tyson’s wife Hailey and son Stratton look forward to continuing the ranching traditions on the ranch, he notes.
“It’s my dream to let my family grow up on the ranch and be able to experience the everyday life of a ranch – they can be around cattle and see all of the wildlife – it’s just a pretty peaceful life,” says Tyson.
The ranch hasn’t changed a whole lot over Tyson’s lifetime, he says.
“We do use motorcycles and dirt bikes in the spring pastures to check cattle – it’s quick and faster than a horse, but anytime we are really moving any of our cattle, it’s on horseback,” he explains.
“We have changed in the last 10 years in some of our marketing with what we do with the size of our calves and the success we’ve had with different types of age of cattle and more diversi-ty,” says Jack. “I’ve learned diversity is a big benefit to staying in business and not just relying on one source of income.”
“We’ve been able to diversify the ranch in timely sales, and I think this has helped protect us at times,” shares Jack. “In the past, we had a two-week window to market our fed cattle, but now we can sell cattle two to three times a year, and it has been a big benefit to us.”
Keeping traditions alive
“It’s an honor to be able to ranch – ranchers are kind of going out because it’s getting harder and harder to keep their head above water,” Tyson concludes. “We’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to keep growing the ranch into what it is today, and I hope in the future we can con-tinue to build it bigger and keep passing the ranch and our way of life from generation to generation.”
In Jack’s spare time, he coaches football. He has been the head football coach for the Little Snake River Valley High School for the last six years and 14 overall.
He shares, “I love the game and I love the kids. We have a great bunch of players, parents and support from the community.”
He notes as long as the kids care, he will continue to coach football, but his forever passion will be his family ranch and continuing its legacy.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.