Current Edition

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Billings, Mont. – From Oct. 13-20, 13 different breeds of cattle from over 32 states visited The Expo Center and Montana Pavilion at MetraPark in Billings, Mont. for the 51st Annual Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE). 

“NILE has grown into what it is today due to the continued support of its membership base, community, exhibitors and contestants who attend this event each year,” said Randy Vogele, NILE president. “Thank you for coming to the 51st Annual NILE Stock Show and Rodeo. We hope you can continue to come and support a lasting tradition with the NILE.”

NILE General Manager Jennifer Boka added, “The mission of NILE is to support and embrace the future of those farmers and ranchers who feed the whole world. Each exhibitor is an essential part of that mission.” 

The complete results for the livestock shows during the event can be found at

Any Other Breed Show

Kirk Stierwalt of Leedey, Okla. judged the junior Any Other Breed (AOB) Show, and Clint Rusk of Stillwater, Okla. judged the open show. 

AOB Grand Champion Bull – R-C Proud Freckles 602, Sire: R-C WG Damn Proud, Exhibitor: Outlaw Cattle Co., Owner: R-C Show Cattle, Powell 

Shorthorn Show

Kirk Stierwalt of Leedey, Okla. judged the junior Shorthorn Show, and Clint Rusk of Stillwater, Okla. judged the open show. 

Jr. ShorthornPLUS Grand Champion Female – RTW Spice, Sire: Alta Cedar Storm 27Z, Exhibitor: Reese West, Cheyenne

Shorthorn Grand Champion Female – RTW Sugar, Sire: Alta Cedar Storm 27Z, Exhibitor: Reese West, Cheyenne

Hereford Show

The Hereford Show was judged by Clint Rusk of Stillwater, Okla. for junior stock and Jason Hoffman of Thedford, Neb. for the open show.

Hereford Grand Champion Female – NJW 36A 10W Turquoise 2, Sire: LJR 023R Whitmore 10W, Exhibitor: NJW Polled Herefords, Sheridan

Hereford Grand Champion Bull – NJW 76S 27A Long Range, Sire: NJW 135U 10Y Hometown, Exhibitor: NJW Polled Herefords, Sheridan 

Hereford Reserve Champion Bull – GCS Bandit 808, Sire: Churchill Gallatin 5211C ET, Exhibitor: Gene Stillahn, Cheyenne

Supreme Champions

Supreme Champion Bull – NJW 76S 27A Long Range, Sire: NJW 135U 10Y Hometown, Exhibitor: NJW Polled Herefords, Sheridan

Commercial Heifer
Classic Pen Show

This show was judged by Don Griffin, Matt Brown and Ray Gardiner. 

Reserve Champion Commercial Heifer Pen – K2 Red Angus, Wheatland

Junior Fed Market
 Steer Show

The Junior Fed Market Steer Show was judged by Marcus Arnold of Ankney, Iowa.

Reserve Champion Market Steer – Kody Foley, Cheyenne

Reserve Champion Junior Steer Showman – Jhett West, Sheridan

Reserve Champion Senior Steer Showman – Saige Ward, Laramie

Junior Fed Market
 Lamb Show

The Junior Fed Market Lamb Show was judged by Marcus Arnold of Ankney, Iowa. 

Reserve Champion Market Lamb – Garrett Burkett, Evansville

Reserve Champion Beginner Lamb Showman – Kendall Burch, Casper

Grand Champion Junior Lamb Showman – Brayson Burch, Casper

Reserve Champion Junior Lamb Showman – Garrett Burkett, Evansville

Junior Fed Market
 Goat Show

The Junior Fed Market Lamb Show was judged by Marcus Arnold of Ankney, Iowa. 

Reserve Champion Beginner Goat Showman – Blair Sanchez, Bear River

Reserve Champion Senior Goat Showman – Saige Ward, Laramie

Junior Fed Market
Swine Show

The Junior Fed Market Lamb Show was judged by Marcus Arnold of Ankney, Iowa. 

Grand Champion Market Swine – Robert Choma, Thayne

Grand Champion Beginner Swine Showman – Memphis Dolcater, Riverton

Club Calf Show

The Club Calf Show was judged by Clint Rusk of Stillwater, Okla. 

Reserve Champion Club Calf Heifer – Lot 348 – Price: $5,250, Consignor: Outlaw Cattle Co., Powell

See the Oct. 20, 2018 edition of the Roundup for results from the NILE.

The Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) is a non-profit organization 501(c)5 established in 1967 that is dedicated to the promotion of livestock, agriculture education and respect of the western tradition. For more information on the NILE, call 406-256-2495 or visit

Casper – “Ever wondered why animals like eating certain foods, or wonder if they could be trained to eat something else?” asked Beth Burritt, Utah State Area Rangeland Extension agent, during the Progressive Resource Manager Forum at the Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous on Nov. 27.

She presented several basic principles of animal behavior, which producers can use to train livestock to eat weeds or increase grazing in upland areas and more.


The main principle of animal behavior is behavior depends on consequences, according to Burritt.

“If a behavior is positive, the chances an animal will engage in the behavior again increases. On the other hand, if the consequence is negative, like making an animal sick, the likelihood an animal will engage in the behavior again decreases,” Burritt explained.

She said most behaviors are learned, so animals can be trained to do things most people don’t think they can do.

“I’d like to tell ranchers that training is simple, but when it’s applied to different landscapes it can be more complicated,” added Burritt.

She noted most behavioral research in the last 20 years was done in pens, which was difficult to apply to the range, but there are a few basic principles producers can use to train their livestock on rangelands and other landscapes.

Early experience

The first principle states early experience matters the most, according to Burritt, who said, “Animals learn throughout their lives, but are better at learning when they’re very young.”

One example of animals learning at a young age she discussed was a study where two groups of lambs were exposed to wheat at six weeks old and 34 months old. The first group of lambs was exposed while with their mother and the other group was exposed alone.

“Lambs exposed at six weeks old with their mothers ate nine times more wheat when exposed at 34 months old,” Burritt stated. “Not only did the lambs learn quickly, they also remembered the wheat because they didn’t see any wheat between six weeks and 34 months.”

She discussed another study, which proved experience matters, where cows were fed ammoniated straw mixed with alfalfa hay to determine if the practive could cut winter feed costs. The problem was half of the cows performed well and the other half didn’t.

“It was discovered 16 of the cows had been fed ammoniated straw as calves and the other 16 had not. The only difference was the first group had previous experience with ammoniated straw,” Burritt noted, adding, “Where animals come from makes a difference, and the tougher the terrain, the more experience matters.”

She also said experience can cause changes in animal’s bodies, like brain function and structure, and liver detoxification capacity, and can affect rumen size and amount of papilla,which helps absorb nutrients.

Mothers and eating

Burritt stated animals have to learn how to eat, and they learn how and what to eat from their mothers.

“Baby animals prefer the habitats of their mothers, who teach them what to eat, and they learn the most from their mothers,” noted Burritt.

She gave an example of why it’s important for animals to learn how to eat. In one study, two groups of goats were sent out to graze on blackbrush, a thorny shrub. One group of goats was raised on alfalfa pellets and had never grazed before, while the other group had grazed on blackbrush with their mothers.

“The first group had trouble eating blackbrush, and their bites per minute plateaued at a certain point. The other group with experience continually increased their bites per minute and had no trouble with blackbrush because it was familiar,” stated Burritt.


Applying animal behavioral principles has been successful, according to Burritt, who mentioned Kathy Voth, Livestock for Landscapes owner and her weed-eating program.

Voth worked for the Bureau of Land Management, and she said, based on the principles of animal behavior, cows could be taught to eat weeds, Burritt stated.

Voth then took all the behavioral principles and created a training program committed to teaching cows how to eat weeds.

“One of the first weeds Kathy worked with was Canada thistle. She also made sure molasses blocks were available to counteract possible nitrate poisoning from the weeds,” Burritt said.

Voth tends to work with heifers because once taught to eat weeds they will teach their calves to eat weeds, mentioned Burritt.

“Calves learn best from their moms but will pass the behavior throughout the herd, as well,” she stated.

Burritt also said Voth builds on how cows learn by reducing the fear of novel foods by mixing the familiar with the novel. Voth starts the cows in small pastures with the targeted weed and a variety of other forages to encourage cows to eat the target weed.

“Voth has trained hundreds of cows on rangelands using her program, and has created the Livestock for Landscapes project, which offers a lot of advice and insights,” Burritt stated.

“The question isn’t do animals learn. The question is whether producers want to be a part of the process,” she concluded.

Heather Loraas 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.

Denver, Colo. – “The environmental impact of products isn’t something that will go away,” said assistant professor of dairy science in the Department of Animal Science at Washington State University Jude Capper. “It is out there all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you read it in the New York Times or Time magazine, there are always articles about climate change or using less water and energy.”
    In a presentation to participants of the International Livestock Congress in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 10, Capper looked at combatting the public’s perception that beef is bad for the environment.
Misleading information?
    “The anti-ag activists understand that sex sells,” explained Capper. “By using these images, they hope to get the point across to the less educated consumer.”
    Capper referenced misleading advertisements, books and some misleading data, saying they have power to persuade people who are not educated about agriculture.
    As an example of how misleading data can be, Capper asked ILC participants to consider two vehicles traveling an equal distance over five hours, one of which burns 70 gallons of gasoline over that time and the other burning 10 gallons. When asked to choose the more environmentally friendly vehicle, Capper said that most consumers would choose the latter.
    “The problem is that this is just the production process,” explain Capper. “The point of the transportation industry isn’t just to move vehicles, it’s to move things. We have to look at this example on an output basis, rather than per head.”
    Capper continued, noting that the first vehicle, burning 70 gallons of fuel, is capable of transporting 50 passengers, yielding more “people miles” when compared to the other vehicle, only capable of transporting four people.
    “It is about the output in this example. To assess total environmental impact, we have to look at everything,” emphasized Capper.
Meatless Monday
    The concept of ‘Meatless Mondays’ emerged about three years ago, and it also utilizes misleading data to influence consumers, noting that, with the idea that animal agriculture might be bad for the environment already instilled in peoples’ minds, it is easier to influence their opinions by using misleading data.
    “The Environmental Working Group is a non-governmental organization that put out a report in July 2011 that was heavily publicized and present in almost every international publication, saying beef and lamb are very bad,” explained Capper, noting the nature of the information provided implied the report was scientific and unbiased.
    She added that data can seem much more significant than it actually is, saying, “If every person in the United States went meatless every Monday for a year, the perception is that would have a significant impact. If all those people went meatless for Monday, that would only cut our total carbon emission by 0.44 percent.”
    “To think that we can make a huge difference frankly does not make sense. That’s a really small number,” continued Capper, noting that cutting meat from the diet also has a number of other impacts.
Unanticipated impacts
     Consumer choice, animal by-products and the human impact on the environment is another factor to be considered by switching to a plant-based diet, consisting of lentils and beans, for example.
    “It’s not all about meat,” said Capper, asking, “What happens to all those other things we get from animal by-products? Where do we get those products without animal ag?”
    “We’ve got to think about the consequences from humans as well as animals,” Capper added, “because humans make methane, too.”
Improvement in the
    Though skewed data is prevalent and difficult to combat, Capper noted that there is room for improvement in the beef industry.
    “As a beef industry, we have a huge opportunity to cut our total carbon footprint by improving our efficiency on-farm,” said Capper. “Beef yield per animal has gone up fairly constantly over the 30 years since 1977, and if we follow that trend, it can keep going up.”
    Capper looked at 1977, when it took five animals to make the same amount of beef that four animals could produce in 2007.
    “In 1977, it took an average of 606 days to get from birth to slaughter. In 2007 it took about 482 days. We have saved about 112 days per animal,” said Capper. “If we multiply that out to include those five animals, it took 3,020 animal days in 1977, compared to 1,928 days in 2007 to make the same amount of beef by improving growth rate and yield per animal.”
    Capper continued, referencing a study done to include the entire beef process from birth through the arrival of the animal at the slaughterhouse, saying that looking only at finishing animals doesn’t include the bulls, cows and heifers that are an integral part of beef production.
    “If we compare to 1977, beef yield per animal has improved by 31 percent. We only need 81 percent of the feed, 88 percent of the water and 67 percent of the land to make one unit of beef,” said Capper of the study, adding that overall, the carbon footprint of beef was reduced by 16 percent over the 30-year period.
Beef production systems
    Beef production systems are another area that frequently comes under fire by anti-agriculture activists. With the data she shared, Capper noted that every beef production system has a place in the industry if it is environmentally responsible and socially acceptable.
    “To produce the same amount of beef as 2011 in a grassfed system as in a conventional system, we would need an extra 64.6 million animals in the grassfed system,” commented Capper. “If all U.S. beef was grassfed and if we could convert overnight to that system, we would have to increase land use by 131 million acres, or 75 percent of the land area of Texas.”
    Capper continued, “That would increase our greenhouse gas emissions by 134.5 million tons of carbon – the equivalent of adding 26.6 million U.S. cars on the road.”
More than carbon
    Though the carbon footprint seems to be the hot topic in evaluating the environmental friendliness of agriculture today, Capper said that water will be the next big issue in the industry.
    “In 2002, in parts of America, north Africa, South America and Asia, there was not enough water to support food production, and that will get worse and worse and worse,” said Capper. “Water will be the next big issue that is put into use by anti-animal agriculture groups.”
    An article in National Geographic looked at the amount of water required to produce each pound of beef, showing 1,799 gallons of water required per pound of beef, as compared to only 468 gallons per pound of chicken.
    “The data looks very science-based, until you read more,” Capper pointed out. “The data says that, in an industrial beef production system, it takes an average of three years before the animal is slaughtered. That number is just insane.”
    In analyzing the data further, Capper noted that the animal that required nearly 1,800 gallons of water for its production only gained an average of 0.8 pounds per day, compared to the U.S. average of 2.95 pounds per day.
    “That number, 1,800 gallons, went out in National Geographic, read by millions of people around the world,” said Capper. “Ninety-eight percent of people have no idea about beef, and it become really dangerous.”
    “Numbers have power, and make people think it must be true,” added Capper. “We have to work on a proactive basis, not at being defensive, but in improving efficiency to give safe, affordable and nutritious beef to the consumer every day.”
    Saige Albert 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..

Worland – On Aug. 13, Danny Vigil and his wife Nicole officially took over the reins of Worland Livestock Auction, purchasing the operation from Stacy Newby and changing its name to Big Horn Basin Livestock Auction.

“Our first sale was Aug. 23,” Vigil comments. “There’s a lot that goes into taking over a livestock auction barn, but we’re really excited about it.”

Big Horn Basin natives

Vigil, who was born and raised near Worland, has been farming since he was 18. 

“I have lived in this area my entire life and operated my own farm, ranch and feedlot operation, where I developed my passion for the livestock industry,” he comments. “I really enjoy this area and the livestock and people here, so we sold our farm and feedlot to my brother and nephew and invested into Worland Livestock Auction.”

Vigil believes the cattle in the Big Horn Basin are top quality, and he comments, “I look forward to the chance to work with producers and market their livestock – whether that is cattle, sheep, goats or horses.” 

Sale barn

The first sale for Big Horn Basin Livestock Auction was held on Aug. 23, which was their regular sale.

With the auctioneer and yard crew staying on at the sale facility, Vigil’s sister Christy Rasmussen and niece Justine Paxton will join the crew in the office to help with sales. 

“We have a lot of ideas and plans,” adds Vigil.

Big Horn Basin Livestock Auction will continue to hold weekly sales on Thursdays, with feeder and bred cow specials held throughout the fall season. 

“In our first year, we’re planning to have six feeder specials,” Vigil explains. “We’re also adding a monthly horse sale to our sale schedule.” 

Currently, horse sales are scheduled for Sept. 21, Oct. 26 and Nov. 23, and sheep and goat sales are scheduled to be held the third Thursday of every month.

Looking forward

As the Vigils continue to develop Big Horn Basin Livestock Auction, they are developing a website and Facebook page where producers will be able to readily access all information about the operation.

Additionally, Vigil says, while he is familiar with many producers in the area, he is looking forward to meeting and getting to know more producers across the region. 

“We want to get to know everyone around here and increase the volume of livestock we put through the sale barn here in Worland,” Vigil says. “This is the only livestock auction left in the Big Horn Basin, and it’s important to the area because it saves ranchers from having to ship their cattle so far.”

He continues, “Worland and the Big Horn Basin have good grass, good country and good cattle. Plus, we have good, fertile farms, and this is a great place to feed and background cattle.”

The area is a great place to feed cattle, and Vigil looks forward to working with producers to market their product. 

“I was born and raised here, and I’ve been to other places around the country,” Vigil comments, “but I’ve never seen any place better to live. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with livestock producers here.”

Saige Albert 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..

Fort Collins, Colo. – “We want to know what opportunities are in the poultry industry, for us to capture the supply of poultry that we want people in this country to consume,” explained Gary Smith, an animal science professor at Colorado State University.

Smith spoke at the International Livestock Forum (ILF) in Fort Collins on Jan. 12, sharing input gathered from his colleagues about focal points for improvement in protein markets.

“If we order chicken and we get chicken, we’re always pleased with the outcome. We’re satisfied because it’s what we wanted and it’s exactly what we asked for,” stated Smith.

This gives chicken an advantage in the protein market because it is a consistent product. 

The other advantage for poultry is that the industry can set an extra 1 million eggs to produce enough product when other protein markets are in short supply.

While poultry production is not a widespread across the Rocky Mountain West, the impact of the protein can significantly affect beef markets. 

Animal wellbeing

Smith illustrated that opportunities still exist for improvement in the industry, noting, “Overwhelmingly, the greatest opportunities for chicken are in addressing animal welfare concerns.”

“I was surprised because I did not know that broiler chickens are kept in the dark their entire lives,” he said.

Smith also mentioned de-beaking, transportation of live birds, maceration of baby chickens and large bird euthanasia as animal wellbeing concerns.

“We want to treat and kill these animals in a way that is humane,” he added.

A few consumers are becoming concerned about the daily lives of the birds.

“Some people are now telling the poultry industry that they need to put toys in the brooder houses and places where they’re raising chickens, so they can play with them and not be bored,” he commented.


Overall housing conditions and management are still a concern due to outdoor access and space constraints.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are cage layers or broiler chickens being produced in cages or out in the house. Chickens have plenty of room when they are little but not much room when they are big,” Smith said.

Fast growth and skeletal problems also pose a challenge.

“Chickens now have such good genetics for muscle growth that muscle has outgrown the skeleton. Producers know that, and they are working on it, so that they can solve it genetically,” noted Smith.

Chicken nutrition

Consumers are concerned about the use of antibiotics, as well.

“A lot of people in the industry are now moving to products that don’t have antibiotics in their feeding regime,” Smith said.

Reducing feed costs and improving nutrition is another opportunity for improvement in the poultry industry.

“The number two concern is whether producers are going to use our corn for food or for fuel,” he explained.

Producers are successfully utilizing distiller’s dried grains, but believe that they could be more productive using corn.

“Supplies of feed can be forward contracted,” he noted.

In the last several years, it has been very profitable for producers to forward contract their corn, locking in prices to be protected from increases, he said.


The next improvement opportunity discussed by Smith was control of food-borne pathogens.

“We need to do everything we can to control those things, especially Salmonella and Campylobacter,” he warned.

Producers are currently concerned about backyard chickens and the potential for spreading of disease to broiler or egg-laying operations.

“The outbreak of bird flu or avian influenza that occurred in Oregon came from backyard chickens, which they probably got from migratory birds,” he stated.

Environmental impacts

Smith added that producers are concerned about waste management, including disposal of dead chickens, manure and feathers. Proper handling is required to reduce both the spread of disease and environmental impact.

“The industry wants to minimize the outbreak of both zoonotic and metabolic diseases,” he continues.

Another improvement opportunity includes managing water scarcity, usage and impaired quality.

“The poultry industry uses more water per pound of meat than any other two combined,” stated Smith.

Processing involves many practices that are water intensive, making usage and scarcity of water a concern.


Lastly, the poultry industry wants to develop new products for new markets.

“The poultry industry has a problem because they don’t think there is any difference between organic and conventional,” he commented.

The question, he noted, is whether or not the consumer thinks that there is a difference. He explained that if a consumer is willing to pay a higher price for a given product, marketing it will carry some value.

“These opportunities are things the poultry industry must be concerned about. They must work with consumers to make sure that they feel good about it as well,” he said.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..