Sustainable Ranching: Heward’s 7E Ranch, LLC focuses on providing for future generations
Located in the northeast corner of Carbon County, Todd and his wife Malea Heward’s roots run deep. Todd is a fifth-generation cattle and sheep rancher, while Malea grew up on a dairy farm.
The Heward’s 7E Ranch, LLC was homesteaded in 1909 by Todd’s great-great-grandmother and her four grown children who took out five homesteads in the area to start a sheep ranch. In 1949, Todd’s grandfather added to the ranch. This is where his uncle Bob Heward resides today, he notes.
Todd has five siblings – Kelly, Kimberly, Chad, Lindsay and Robin, but he notes he is the only one of his generation heavily involved with the ranch.
Todd and Malea met while in college. Together, the couple raised seven children: Timothy, Logan, Caroline, Sarah, Bethany, Hyrum and Samuel.
Livestock and location
The Heward’s 7E Ranch, LLC started as a sheep operation, but cattle were added in 1949, Todd shares.
“On the north end that I run, we have Black Angus and Rambouillet sheep,” says Todd. “We’re a cow/calf and yearling operation.”
Todd recalls growing up on the ranch consisted of long, hard days and challenges, but he wouldn’t have wanted to grow up any other way.
“Our days consisted of moving livestock, building fences, irrigating and putting up hay,” he mentions.
Todd jokes the ranch is far from everywhere – roughly 40 miles from Medicine Bow and 70 miles from Casper.
“One of the challenges that has always been a part of this northern Carbon County area is it’s very remote,” he says. “It took long days to get to school, even for our children today.”
There are many aspects of ranching Todd enjoys.
“I’ve always enjoyed irrigating,” he says. “I’m also fond of understanding the rangeland, grasses, vegetation and soil. I’ve always been fascinated with it, as well as my dad and grandfather.”
Being a good steward of the land is what makes healthy livestock, he adds.
“We try to be good stewards of the land – it has always been a passion of ours and it’s really important to our family,” Todd says.
Over the years, the ranch has evolved into a more intensive grazing management style, shares Todd.
“As a historic sheep ranch, there wasn’t really any pastures, so we’ve kind of transitioned away from large pastures and herders to more of an intensive grazing management style,” he mentions. “Most everything else is pretty simple. We don’t use a lot of high-tech equipment or things of that nature. It’s relatively simple.”
The Hewards harvest loose hay in large 25- to 30-ton stacks.
“Putting up hay in large, loose stacks is kind of a rare practice, but we’ve maintained this fast, inexpensive way to put up hay and are able to maintain better hay quality compared to baled hay,” says Todd.
They typically use a sickle bar mower and a dump rake, then a sweep and stacker – there are outdoor loads or stacks in large wooden cribs. In the winter, they use a hydraulic fork to feed the livestock, explains Todd.
“We are pretty moderate in everything we do,” mentions Todd. “We tend to stockpile half a year’s forage every year so if we have drought conditions, we still have forage. Drought hasn’t really affected us – it most definitely has been dry, but as far as grazing management, it really hasn’t affected us in that way.”
The ranch also utilizes land leased by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s a large component of the operation, he adds.
“Our relationship with the BLM and the use of public lands is an important thing we deal with on a daily basis,” he shares.
Calving typically starts in April and May, sheep shearing begins in early May and lambing takes place in late May. After spring work is done, livestock go out to summer range, Todd shares. The ranch work is constant with both a sheep and cattle operation.
“We dock lambs in early July, precondition calves in mid-September, sell lambs in early October, sell calves mid-October and sell yearlings in late October,” he shares. “We try to graze as long as we can in the fall, but normally we start feeding livestock in mid-January.”
According to Todd, the Heward’s 7E Ranch, LLC has a rich history – the 7E comes from an original brand used by the ranch.
Raising a family on the ranch has been important to Todd.
“My father always said his most important crop were his children, and I echo that – we raise hay, sheep and cattle, but really our focus is family and our children,” says Todd. “A lot of what we do on the ranch is for them.”
“There’re some things we could do different, but we recognize doing it the way we do has helped teach the next generation how to work, and it’s a good way of life to raise a family,” he says. “We have held on to traditional practices that have been beneficial to raising kids.”
Many of Todd’s children help with the current operations. His son Timothy and wife Kendra are becoming more involved and helping take over the ranch.
Todd looks forward to passing the ranch down to future generations.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.