Young couple returns to family ranch
Zack and Hannah Guild are Uinta County ranchers who run an Angus/Hereford/Limousin cow/calf operation.
Zack went to college in Logan, Utah and received his diesel mechanics certification. Upon graduation, he moved to Phoenix, Ariz. where he worked for six months before returning to his family’s ranch, which was established in 1867.
Today, the couple looks forward to ranching alongside their 10-month-old son Callan and several of Zack’s family members, including his grandpa, dad and brother.
The family is getting ready to start calving in the next several weeks.
Zack notes he keeps his replacement heifers open an extra year before breeding them, which is something really unique to his operation. He has found this helps his herd’s productivity and breed-back success.
“There is a year they sit here and don’t produce any profit, but we have found they last longer and breed back better if we wait a year to breed them,” he says.
Zack explains he can walk through his herd of cattle and tell which cows were bred as replacement heifers because they tend to be smaller and don’t last as long. Although many other producers don’t do this, Zack says he has found it to be pretty effective.
Additionally, the ranch produces all of their own hay on 2,000 acres.
Like other producers across the state, Zack and Hannah have faced many challenges, but they note nothing is impossible with a little bit of hard work and support from family and friends.
Zack shares they don’t deal with a lot of predator issues in the area, but one of their biggest challenges is having a short growing season.
“Our ranch house is at 8,000 feet in elevation but our cattle operations run all the way up over 10,000 feet,” mentions Zack. “With elevation being so high, our growing season can be pretty short, so it can be difficult – we are pretty lucky if we get two crops rotations off of our pastures.”
Some producers in higher elevations deal with brisket disease, but Zack shares he focuses on choosing bulls testing well on pulmonary arterial pressure tests. Therefore, brisket disease isn’t really a concern for him, but something he is always watching for.
Today, the couple actively participates in the Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee. The couple notes they’ve enjoyed being involved and learning new things.
“Before getting involved, I didn’t really know what they did. But, I had a brother who was involved, and he was aging out of YF&R. He invited me to an annual WyFB conference in Cody a few years ago,” Zack explains. “It looked like a good opportunity to go out, meet new people and get new ideas. I was really interested in learning and getting ideas from other people, as well as advocating for agriculture.”
The couple has enjoyed being a part of the committee and found it has been a good way to get involved in their community. Zack shares the organization has been a great stepping stone and looks forward to other ways he can help in his community.
Although the ranch work never ends, Zack notes it’s something he truly enjoys, and he never finds himself looking forward to the weekend like he did when he worked a nine-to-five job during the week days as a diesel mechanic.
“The reason I came back was because I wanted to be able to raise my kids and spend time with my family,” he shares. “I really enjoy the fact I can have my family with me at any time, and I love the freedom I have.”
He adds, “For the little time I did work at other jobs, I didn’t like how I was always thinking about or excited about the weekend. But, as a rancher, I no longer think this way – I love what I do all day, every day, and I’m never looking for a break because I love it.”
Hannah grew up on her family’s operation showing cattle in 4-H and open shows. She notes she is learning a lot by being back on the ranch and fulfilling her duties as a ranch wife.
She shares, “As others looking at getting involved with production ag, it’s okay to get ideas, but they shouldnʼt feel like they have to do it the way everyone else is doing it.”
“At times it can be intimidating, because as a young producer, we’re immersed in a community of people who have done ranching a specific way,” mentions Hannah. “It can be easy to feel like we won’t succeed if we don’t follow in our predecessors’ footsteps. But, in reality, it’s okay to reach out and get information, because sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you and reaching your goals.”
Zack shares, “I wasn’t excited about getting any kind of education at all. I didn’t want to go to school, but I did and I’m glad I did.”
As a diesel mechanic, he has been able to save money by keeping his equipment on the ranch and working on it himself.
As far as future advice, he says, “Find a skill and get an education, because I feel it’s really worth it.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.