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Cheyenne – The historic Wyoming Hereford Ranch in southeast Wyoming is this year celebrating 125 years of producing quality Hereford cattle.
    A descendant of the Swan Land and Cattle family of ranches, the Wyoming Hereford Ranch (WHR) is still going strong today, although with a slightly different focus from its date of origin.
    “Swan Land and Cattle set aside 65,000 acres for the Hereford ranch, and it’s bred Herefords ever since,” says present-day ranch manager Steve Anderson. “The current owners, the Sloans, bought the ranch some 30 years ago, and they’re the first owners to live on the ranch.”
    The Swan Land and Cattle Co. is said to have been instrumental in the movement of Herefords to Wyoming, other mountain states and the Northwest.
    Anderson says at 125 years the WHR is the oldest known continuous breed operation in the U.S. Definite plans for the ranch’s anniversary have not yet been decided, although Anderson says a traditional branding might be in the works.
    With only 59 calves to brand this spring, he says the ranch can afford the luxury of a little inefficiency once in a while.
    “The ranch is only a fraction of what it once was,” says Anderson of the herd’s small size. “Because of both prior management and drought we need to give the land some rest and we cut the herd to 59 bred cows last fall.”
    “We won’t be the Hereford producer we once were, but we still have quality animals here,” he says. “A producer will come here not because he wants a large number of bulls, but because he wants a good bull from a known Hereford breeder. We’re still a very good source.”
    Because of polarity between the ranch proper and the cattle operation, Anderson says the ranch now operates with minimal crew and more focus toward diversification. Four full-time employees, including Anderson and his wife Cathy, look after the cattle and the ranch grounds, which are a show place.
    “We’re a traditional Hereford breed ranch that happens to have a barn we lease out for events, and we have 15 rental properties,” says Anderson. “We’re akin to a little municipality out here.” All the rental properties are located right on the ranch’s main grounds, within a quarter-mile of the ranch headquarters.
    “We have college kids and professional people and everyone in between,” says Anderson of the ranch tenants. “People live out here because it’s an oasis. Most everyone works in Cheyenne.”
    Anderson says part of his job description is spending time showing off the ranch to people and listening to stories from people who have worked with the ranch in its past. “It’s fun to read the guest book, about how the ranch has influenced peoples’ lives through the years,” he says, adding, “There’s so much to do it’s hard to slow down and visit with folks but it’s always rewarding when we do.”
    He says on any given day duties on the ranch include irrigating hay meadows, mowing the little park, painting a house, welding an implement, renting the facility to a bride, interviewing prospective employees and renting out homes. “We have a lot on our plate, but they’re things that are fun to do.”
    One unique group of ranch visitors is the bird-watchers. “The Audubon Society touts how great we are for birds, because all kinds come through here for the water,” says Anderson.
    One day in 2007 90 species of birds were found on the ranch, while on that same day only 120 species were found in the entire county. Many birders leave rave reviews online of their experiences at the WHR, describing the ranch as a “classic Western desert oasis,” where the “birding is great, and it’s out in the middle of nowhere.”
    “The history of the ranch is its strong suit and that history is sometimes overwhelming to think you’re a part of it,” says Anderson. “My wife and I are just here to work and do what needs to be done, and now our names will be connected to it.”
    “It’s not the oldest ranch out there, but there are not a lot of ranches that have the history and recognition we do,” he says. “The livestock we’ve produced over the years would rival any ranch anywhere. The diversity and numbers of people and the names that have been involved with the ranch are astounding.”
    Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Greybull – Two years ago Mike Whaley found a need in the agricultural industry for Wyoming-grown grain. 

“I started looking at the tags on the grain bags, and I noticed that all of the grain came from out of state,” explains Whaley, co-owner of Whaley Grain Company. “It didn’t matter to me which state the grain came from, but it certainly wasn’t from Wyoming.” 

He adds, “I couldn’t find Wyoming-grown feed grains anywhere. I’m not talking about processed grains. I’m talking about oats, cracked corn and whole corn.”

Whaley grain 

“We farm in the Bighorn Basin, and I know farmers and ranchers from that area are always looking for a way to get rid of their field grains,” describes Whaley. “Then it occurred to me that we needed a better system to do that.”

Whaley and his wife Laura brainstormed the idea of starting their own grain business to promote Wyoming grain. They began making several phone calls for advice, attended a business boot camp in Cody and eventually bought a bagging system to start their business. 

“We wanted to make sure that if we did actually decide to start this grain business, we wouldn’t be a flash in the pan – here and gone,” states Whaley.

He adds, “We really did our research and set ourselves up right, so when we started our grain business we would come out and be a professional and reliable company able to offer a product for a very long time.”

Business plan

The next step the Whaley’s took for their grain business was purchasing a bagging system, getting all of their scales certified and registering their feed. 

“We had to get a license was with the University of Wyoming for the bucking horse and rider logo,” he explains. “We wanted people to immediately recognize that it was a Wyoming product when they entered a feed store.”

The Whaleys also did their own market research, and every retailer they talked to told them the best grains to focus on were oats, whole corn and cracked corn.  

“Basically, if it can come off of a combine and be cleaned, we’ll use it. As far as milling anything, we are not set-up for that at the moment,” says Whaley. “However, every product we put into our bags is tested, so we know the nutrition content of it.”

He adds, “We don’t mix corn and oats in the same bag at the moment. We are exploring blending some grains in the near future.”

Future plans

“We have no intention whatsoever to sell grains outside of Wyoming. Our mantra is stated right on our bag – we grow Wyoming, and it is going to stay in Wyoming,” claims Whaley.

He adds, “We feel it is very important that we grow Wyoming and keep those dollars in our state. We don’t have anything against any farmers in any other state, but we sure like the farmers that we have in this state.” 

Whaley further explains, ‘Wyoming Agriculture, “Wyoming Communities” is specifically printed on their bags because they believe agriculture and communities go hand-in-hand. 

“The stronger one is, the stronger the other is. If we can support each other, that’s the symbiotic relationship needed to make both thrive,” he states. 

Local interest

“We have had a tremendous welcoming of our product in local feed stores and co-ops because they get it right away and understand their patrons want to buy local products,” comments Whaley. 

The Whaleys strive to be a competitive, high-quality grain in feed stores, while also supporting their local farmers and ranchers.  

Whaley explains they will not compete with their customers, and their customers are the feed stores. 

“We want to have a large network of producers, feed stores and co-ops who can support everything, and hopefully we can be a key to make that all happen,” he describes. 

Whaley continuously receives offers from farmers all across Wyoming wanting to sell their grain to him. 

“It’s tremendously exciting to me because we have been getting grains from friends and neighbors and using our own, but if we can get grains from across the state then it truly is, ‘We grow Wyoming.’ We are supporting communities all across the state,” Whaley comments. 

Quality grain

Whaley mentions that he looks for high quality grains, specifically Yellow 1 or 2 corn and 38- to 42-pound oats. All grain must be weed free. 

“We do have a grain cleaner, and we run everything through it, but we are not looking for problem grain. We are looking for high-quality grain that we can stand behind,” states Whaley.

He adds, “That was part of the reason why we put our name on the bag and made it Whaley Grain Company. We wanted people to be comfortable that when they bought our grain they could call and talk to a Whaley.” 

Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


SIDEBAR:
Expansion

Grain produced by the Whaley Grain Company can be found in feed stores located in the north and central parts of Wyoming. Starting in July, they will expand their grain market to the southern part of Wyoming. 

Whaley Grain sells grain in totes or by the semi load, as well. 

“We wanted to make sure that when we went to the southern part of Wyoming to market our grain we would be able to deliver to those people on time and be the supplier they needed,” states Mike Whaley, co-owner of Whaley Grain Company.

He adds, “We are looking forward to meeting a lot of people at the fairs, and we are especially looking forward to meeting more producers, retailers and customers.” 

The Whaleys look forward to introducing themselves and their product to the public and are excited to meet people in Gillette at the Campbell County Fair and in Douglas for the Wyoming State Fair.


Virginia Beach, Va. – “We, as young farmers and ranchers, are the voice for agriculture, and it is up to us to ensure a successful future for agriculture,” said Raenell Taylor, Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Wyoming State Chair. 

YF&R conference

Taylor, along with seven other members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher program, attended the 2014 Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference that was held in Virginia Beach, Va. on Feb. 7–10. 

The theme for the conference was “All Hands on Deck” and focused on the importance of young farmers and rancher’s involvement in agriculture and its future. 

“This conference was a great opportunity to learn why it’s so important to have ‘All Hands on Deck’ with agriculture,” said Taylor. 

Approximately 1,000 Farm Bureau members from across the United States attended the conference to listen to breakout sessions, compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Collegiate Discussions and take tours that AFBF had set up. 

Collegiate discussion

Wyoming’s representative for the AFBF Collegiate Discussion was Jake Bare, and Taylor says, “He competed with pride and certainly represented Wyoming with dignity.” 

Bare was the winner of Wyoming’s State Collegiate Discussion, which enabled him to compete at the national level.  

The discussions are designed to replicate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each collegiate participant. Participants are judged on their ability to exchange ideas and information on the agricultural topic and find answers or solutions to the discussion topic. 

Breakout sessions

One of the breakout sessions at the AFBF YF&R focused on the use of social media and offered ways to help YF&R members learn how to utilize it to advocate for agriculture. 

Johnna Miller of the AFBF led the Social Media session, and she explained the uses of social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“Social media helps to promote agriculture so that others can better understand what a day on today’s farms and ranches would be like,” said Taylor. “We can share our story and advocate for agriculture whenever the opportunity rises and share what farmers and ranchers do.”

Leading

Another breakout session at the conference was “Leading the Change,” which focused on growing great leaders and was specifically geared towards Farm Bureaus state chairs to help execute leadership skills and explain their role as chair of their YR&R committees. 

“Leadership starts with understanding that leadership is a skill that can be learned and improved upon,” explained Taylor. “Building a strong team together is essential for success.”

Tours

Attendees were also able to partake in some tour options to some local operations and facilities during the last day of the conference. On one of the tours, attendees were able to visit a large-scale production grain facility and then visited the Perdue Farms import and export facility. 

“We learned about international trade and the business of moving U.S. grain around the world,” described Taylor. “We also visited the Horsley Farm where they grow a variety of crops, and we had the opportunity to witness first hand the process of refilling ammonium sulfate to be spread via aerial application with a helicopter.” 

Another one of the tours AFBF offered the first settlement in Virginia at Jamestown where attendees learned about farming practices that started there over 400 years ago. 

Attendees were also able to learn about modern production and marketing at Smithfield Foods. 

“Getting to see Smithfield’s headquarters and learning more about all of their products was awesome,” said Chalsey Kortes, YF&R member. 

New perspective

At the end of the conference, a majority of the YF&R that attended the conference traveled home with additional leadership skills, networking contacts and enthusiasm toward Farm Bureau and what role to take within the Farm Bureau. 

Taylor stated, “I certainly left Virginia Beach with a new perspective of my role as the state chair for the Wyoming Farm Bureau YF&R program.”

Taylor added, “Everyone grew from this opportunity that attended the conference. Even if it was from just the simple act of networking with other members from other states.” 

Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rock Springs – According to Wyoming Horse Racing, LLC managing partner and Sweetwater Downs general manager Eugene Joyce, live horseracing is an important agribusiness in Wyoming, and he aims to continue to develop the sport in the state.
    The year 2011 marked the first time there was a live race meet in Wyoming in two years, and Joyce says he feels it was successful, especially considering the fact that the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission only licensed the races two months before the first two-day race meet at the end of August.
    “We were really scrambling to get the word out, and to put together attractive purses,” he says, adding that their facility, Sweetwater Downs, hadn’t been used as a racetrack in 18 years. “We really focused on the racing surface, because our philosophy is ‘safety first.’ We renovated the entire surface and worked it diligently.”
    The attention to detail paid off, and at the end of the meet neither the jockey ambulance nor the horse ambulance had been used.
    The two weekends of races attracted 1,500 fans each day, and Joyce says they’re looking to build this year.
    “I told the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission that I wanted to bring long-term stability to horse racing in Wyoming, and to do that we’ll take a slow, reasoned approach and build from here,” he says.
    “It went smoothly, especially for being put together on short notice,” says Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission Executive Director Charlie Moore of the 2011 meets. “Their business plan is that they want to keep improving and take baby steps, taking it slowly and methodically.”
Simulcasts fund race meets
    Joyce says another positive of 2011 was the $150,000 in purses that were paid out over the four days, and he hopes to increase that to $200,000 in 2012.
    He explains that it’s the simulcasts around the state that provide the revenue for the horsemen, the state and for the operators and managers of the races. Currently Joyce manages six off-track betting locations in Wyoming.
    “The way it should work is that there should be enough wagering activity in the state for us to make a profit and to have enough money to run a live race meet,” he explains. “At this point we anticipate making money in year three or four.”
    Of the long timeline, he says, “I’m one of the guys who likes to take a slow and steady approach – under-promise and over-deliver. It will take a lot of hard work and effort to get us back to where we once were.”
    “We attracted horses from the entire Intermountain West – Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and even from Los Alamitos in California,” he says of the horses that were 90 percent Quarter Horse and 10 percent Thoroughbred.
    “All in all, from a standing jump-start, I think we have a lot of positives to build on. This year we’ll advertise and hustle for horses, and we’ll work with the local community to make this meet even better.”
    The 2012 race meet dates are Aug. 18-19 and Sept. 1-2.
Bringing stability to the market
    Looking five years into the future, Joyce says he would like to see three or four race meets in the state at different locations, for a total of 15 to 30 race days.
    “That will take a lot of doing,” he says. “We face competition from neighboring states, and there are less horses being bred in the United States now than 10 years ago. But, we hope we can bring some stability back to the market, so people with horses and stallions and broodmares can make decisions to breed horses, knowing that there will be places to race here in the state.”
    “The race track brings a lot to the table,” says Moore. “Especially for the people who were breeding racehorses two years ago, but are now turning them toward barrel racing or leaving mares open.”
Anticipating 2012
    Of the 2012 meets, Joyce comments, “We’ve got a good partner in the Sweetwater Events Complex, and without their commitment we wouldn’t be here today. It is a nice facility, and we’re excited to be back there, and we’re hoping the crowds will be bigger and the field sizes for the races will be bigger, and that we’ll have a lot more purse money up for the horsemen.”
    “The horse is an iconic symbol of who we are and what we value as citizens of Wyoming, and a healthy horse racing industry is like a manure spreader with money, and spreads it around, not only to the track operator and horsemen and breeders, but to the local communities where the horse racing activity takes place,” he concludes.
    Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – Top winners were announced at the Wyoming Make It With Wool (MIWW) contest held Dec. 1-2 at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Casper.

Ashlynn Johnson of Encampment, modeling a plum-colored dress and multi-colored short jacket, won the Junior Division. 

Nicole Macy of Pine Bluffs, modeling a four-piece ensemble including a brown coat, multi-colored teal jacket, teal skirt and ivory top, won the Senior Division. 

Patty Swanson of Lingle, modeling a four-piece ensemble, including a brown plaid coat, brown slacks, plaid vet, and gold top, won the Adult Division.

The top Junior and Senior winners were awarded a paid trip to the National MIWW competition to be held in Charleston, S.C on Jan. 23-25. 

The top four winners in each division also received cash awards and other various prizes. 

Each contestant received a 2.5-yard length of Pendleton wool fabric.

The adult winner sends their outfit, photos and modeling video to a national adult judging contest. The national adult winner of that competition is invited to attend the national MIWW contest in Charleston, S.C.

Top construction awards were also given in each age division at the state contest to those with outstanding worksmanship on their garments. Winners included  Courtney Fuller in the Junior Division, Nicole Macy in the Senior Division and Sheryl Hunter in the Adult Division. 

The “Creativity” award was presented to Jacquie Lahr of Laramie for her wool-felted red cape. Winner of the Afghan Division was Barbara Lahr, and winner of the Knitted Apparel division was Michelle Elser.

The 14 contestants at the state MIWW contest entered and won top honors at one of the district contests held during October and November. Contestants construct and model an outfit made of at least 60 percent wool fabric or yarn. Over 85 contestants participated at district contests in Wyoming this year.

Tribute was paid at the state fashion show to Roxanna Johnson, who served as state director of the MIWW contest for 18 years. Johnson passed away earlier in the year. Her influence with MIWW will be felt for many years to come.

Lynda Jordan has been selected as the new State Director. Please contact Jordan at 307-399-6723 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for entry forms or additional information regarding the MIWW contest in Wyoming.