Diverse family operation: M.R. Angus ranch runs diverse, labor-intensive operation dedicated to family involvement
After establishing M.R. Angus Ranch in 1977 in Tie Siding, Juan and Joni Reyes quickly realized finding a cow herd with the right genetics and conformation was of utmost importance to survive their high-altitude area, measuring over 8,000 feet in elevation.
Today, the Reyes family raises successful, registered Angus cattle on a diverse, labor-intensive operation dedicated to family involvement and succession.
Raising registered Angus
Forty years ago, in 1982, Juan and Joni bought land in Wheatland where they began expanding their registered Angus cattle operation. Their original cow herd of 12 had Eileenmere bloodlines, and the 900 head of registered mother cows presently residing at M.R. Angus Ranch can be traced back to these bloodlines.
“What other breed out there can convert grass into the premium protein we as beef producers are striving to raise?” says Juan and Joni’s daughter Jen Burr when asked why they chose the Angus breed. “I think it’s very hard to beat an Angus-bred animal in our challenging environment.”
When it comes to current operations, Juan explains since moving to Wheatland, they have utilized summer grass on the Laramie Plains and moved from selling January-born yearling bulls to June-born coming two-year-olds.
“Instead of calving in January and then sending pairs to grass in the summer, we calve our cows on summer pastures in June,” he explains. “June calving allows us to grow our bulls out in a way we feel is better for both the stock and the buyers.”
Juan notes during calving season his son Jason, his wife Sarah and their crew spend everyday going through their cattle, tagging and recording weights.
“When Wyoming starts to remind us what winter can be made of, we bring pairs back to Wheatland and utilize feed stubble until it runs out,” says Juan. “Calves are weaned in December and January, then go back to grass as soon as Mother Nature allows.”
After weaning, M.R. Angus bulls are placed on a 1.5 pound gain ration and are developed in a realistic range environment. Bulls are summered at Tie Siding from June to October, then pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) tested in September by Dr. Tim Holt.
When bulls get back to Wheatland, they are turned out on a field of roughage until the feed is gone. After which, they are placed on a 40-mega-calorie ration of 78 percent roughage.
M.R. Angus Ranch bulls are then sold at an annual sale in conjunction with Keith Russell and his family. The 32nd Annual Reyes/Russell Bull Sale will take place at the M.R. Angus Ranch in Wheatland on Feb. 27.
“We hope to provide high-quality bulls for producers across the region – bulls that can work in any environment,” Juan says. “We will keep striving to find the right kind of cattle to use, thus producing bulls to benefit the commercial cattlemen.”
In addition to their registered Angus herd, M.R. Angus also operates a 7,000 head feedlot where they background calves for some of their seedstock customers, summer nearly 1,000 yearlings, put up their own feed and raise stock dogs.
Juan notes the feedlot is composed mostly of heifers, which come from customer ranches to be wintered, bred and returned home as replacements. The feedlot also takes in nearly 1,500 steers, annually.
“This is a great opportunity for us to see how our genetics are working for our buyers,” Juan says.
The ranch also raises and harvests their own feed under 21 pivots and farms nearly 3,500 acres of corn, hay, small grains and grass for pasture. Additionally, the Reyes family raises and trains stock dogs, offering stud services to select customers.
“The dogs are a very important aspect of M.R. Angus Ranch,” shares Juan. “They are used here every day. Whether we are trailing pairs or yearlings on the summer ranches or processing customer calves in the feedlot, dogs are used. They work all types of cattle, including pairs, yearlings and bulls. Our dogs work in big country and confined spaces.”
“If it wasn’t for family being here and a small, hard-working crew, we wouldn’t be able to do everything we do,” Juan states, further noting Juan and Joni are in the process of turning the reins over to their children.
He explains Jason is in charge of cattle, managing every aspect from herd health to pasture management.
“In the summer, Jason and Sarah calve full time while also managing approximately 1,000 yearlings on grass,” he says. “Between four different summer ranches scattered across Albany, Carbon and Platte counties, they are always on the move. They are horseback everyday, and between good dogs, great horses and a lot of drive, they get it done.”
Juan’s son-in-law Mick Burr oversees all farming, irrigating, mechanical duties and feeding responsibilities for the feedlot and ranch. Jen helps with the seedstock side of the ranch and between all sectors, helping Mick and Jason where needed.
As far as future goals for M.R. Angus Ranch go, Juan says, “I suppose the main goal would be to remain a family operation that is successful and prosperous. It means a lot to us all to keep this place in the Reyes Family.”
“My dad always jokes about the old saying ‘the first generation builds it, the second generation holds it together and the third generation throws it away.’” Jen shares. “He continues to say, ‘Make me mad, and I’ll be the first guy to do all three.’ Although we laugh and roll our eyes, it really does hit home of what an awesome opportunity we have here and how humbling it is that we hold the future in our hands.”
“Maybe someday we can pass this on to the next generation if the interest is there,” she adds.
Overcoming challenges, offering advice
Like many in the agriculture industry, the Reyes family has had to overcome their share of challenges.
When asked what keeps them in the cattle business when things get tough, Jen responds, “First, I’d say hard work and diversity. Second, a very productive and functional cow herd. Third, not following fads and trends. Fourth, holding true to our standards and beliefs, and finally, a very strong and supportive customer base.”
For young producers interested in getting their start in the cattle business, Juan advises, “Go for it. Do the homework. Get surrounded by successful people and work hard.”
“At an early age I was told the only way to own a ranch was to inherit it or marry into it. This was not my case,” he continues. “I credit loyalty, being fair and treating others as one would like to be treated.”
Juan adds, “My success is due to the United States of America and her forefathers who created a country and government so people like me had an opportunity to succeed. Only in the USA. We are very blessed to live in Wyoming.”
With gratitude and optimism, the Reyes family will continue offering well-renowned, high-quality Angus genetics and other services on their diverse operation for years to come.
For more information, visit mrangusranch.com.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.