Introducing Park County: Big Horn Basin provides abundant resources for high-quality ag production
The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is happy to highlight farms, ranches, agribusinesses and the historic community of Park County in our 2023 Fall Cattlemen’s Edition.
Nestled between the Absarokas to the west and the Big Horn Mountains to the east, Park County sprawls across 6,943 square miles, making it Wyoming’s fourth largest county.
The climate is arid, with rainfall only averaging around 9.3 inches per year and snowfall averaging 34.7 inches.
Surrounded by Montana’s Custer Gallatin National Forest to the north, Bridger Teton and Shoshone national forests to the south and over 53 percent of Yellowstone National Park housed within its borders, Park County has become a popular, breathtaking tourist destination.
The county’s abundant water supply and efficient irrigation system, which stems from three major rivers – the Greybull River, the Shoshone River and the Clark’s Fork River – has also enabled farming and ranching to thrive.
Because of its ample agricultural resources, Park County is home to some of the oldest and largest ranches in the state, including the historic Pitchfork and TE ranches.
Park County agriculture
Today, numerous agribusinesses and farming, ranching and dude ranching operations dot the vast landscape of Park County, which encompasses 3,349,120 acres of land – 77 percent of which are state and federally owned and 23 percent are privately owned.
As of the 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistic Service’s (NASS) Census of Agriculture, land in farms makes up 929,926 acres and 83 percent of agricultural land is pastureland, 15 percent is cropland and one percent is woodland.
Top crops include 46,573 acres of hay and haylage, 19,091 acres of barley for grain, 10,240 acres of sugarbeets for sugar, 9,930 acres of dry edible beans and 5,188 acres of field and grass seed crops.
The county reports 41,925 head of cattle and calves, 19,758 sheep and lambs, 1,418 goats, 4,862 horses and ponies, 3,537 layer hens, 309 broilers and other meat-type chickens, 293 hogs and pigs and 173 turkeys.
Park County accounts for six percent of the state’s agriculture sales, with the total market value of agriculture products sold topping $85,174,000. The sale of crops totaled $45,730,000 and livestock, poultry and product sales total $39,443,000.
Agricultural production in Park County earns several top 10 rankings in the state of Wyoming.
The county ranks fourth in the total market value of agriculture products sold, second in the state for total crops sold and 14th in the state for livestock, poultry and products sold.
Park County ranks first in aquaculture; second in the production of milk from cows, poultry and eggs and fruits, tree nuts and berries and third in hogs and pigs and vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The county also ranks fourth in the state for grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas; fifth in nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod; sixth in sheep, goats, wool, mohair and milk and ninth in horses, ponies, mules, burros and donkeys.
Information in this article was compiled from the Wyoming Historical Society, Park County’s official website and USDA NASS.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.