Livestock

Cattle

Bison

Horses

Cattle ranching lies at the core of who we are and is the foundation of our business. It is both a passion and a way of life. Livestock are not only an important source of food for our nation, but they allow us to utilize renewable natural resources that would often not be used in any other way.

 

Herding grazers evolved in tandem with the great grasslands of the world, and they continue to play a vital role in our management methods as we seek to increase biodiversity and foster a healthy ecosystem. Our livestock genetic management philosophy, originating from the Dale Lasater Ranch, breeds and selects animals that are adapted to their natural environment.

A group of yearling cattle in dusty corrals.

Cattle

Ranchlands’ roots originate in cattle ranching, and ranching is the backbone of all of our business enterprises. We run a diversified cattle operation that includes seedstock cattle, commercial mother cows, yearlings, and short-term, speculative cattle investments.

We manage our cattle to live in their natural environment to the highest degree possible. This means we do not shoot coyotes but sell the cow who loses her calf because other cows were able to defend their calf. We do not use wormers or pesticides, but instead sell any animal that becomes anemic due to parasites. We let the bulls and animal performance on native range conditions select our female replacements by exposing the entire yearling heifer crop to the bulls, and when the heifers calve, we keep only the animals that had no difficulty calving. We do not breed for color or shape, but let the natural elements dictate which animals will leave the most progeny behind. We do not select replacement females by visual appraisal, but by their performance in native range conditions.

We also use our cattle as tools for ecological restoration and conservation. By rotating our cattle among pastures according to our grazing plan, we replicate the natural cycles of grazing followed by rest and rejuvenation that mimics the way the great American grasslands evolved in tandem with large bison herds.

A bison cow and calf breathe steam out of their noses during a cold morning at bison works.

Bison

Ranchlands manages two herds of bison: a conservation herd at the Zapata Ranch in Colorado and a commercial herd at the Wilder Ranch in South Dakota. Our commercial bison are trained from a young age to electric fences, horses, people, and herding. We graze these animals in one large pasture where they naturally divide themselves into family units. We do not wean, brand, provide pesticides, or feed salt or mineral. All female calves receive a one-time brucellosis vaccination.

Managing bison on a large scale for conservation is a relatively new frontier. We manage our conservation herd of bison with the primary objective of learning about how wild bison lived in their natural environment. The entire herd of 2,000 head grazes in one 50,000 acre pasture. We do not wean, brand, or medicate any of these bison. The entire herd runs in what we call family “pods.” We bring them into the corral once a year to administer a brucellosis vaccination to the young heifer calves and to harvest the animals for that year. The herd is not provided with pesticides, nor given supplemental feed, salt, or mineral. Bull to cow ratios are kept as high as possible, sometimes as high as 1:1 in order to maintain competition among the bulls.

A young filly nibbles on a wooden post while standing at her mother

Horses

Ranchlands’ breeding program is based on producing gentle horses that can work long days on a ranch and thrive on native pasture with minimal supplemental feed. Horses that we produce are designed to play a central role in the management of a ranch. Specifically, our horses are bred for a gentle disposition, athleticism, hardiness, and livestock sense.

Our horse training program is based at the Wilder Ranch. Foals are born in May and June, then weaned and halter trained at around six months of age. At two years of age, colts receive approximately 30 days of light work and then are turned out to grow and develop. At three years of age, they begin a steady training regime until they are ready to be taken to other Ranchlands ranches to begin their duties in ranch and cattle work. This program also allows us to provide our staff with opportunities to improve their horsemanship by working with a variety of horses at various stages of development.

The training philosophy is one of developing a leadership/disciple relationship with the horses. We establish leadership and a mutually respectful relationship that, in time, can turn into a partnership. We make it as easy as possible for them to find the right answers in their training so that they learn to enjoy their job.

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Grazing as a Tool

Our livestock help us achieve our ecological goals.

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A herd of bison on the Medano with the dunes and mountains in the background

Calving Season

Nick Baefsky shares his insights about this crucial time of year.

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a cow with her calf at side in a pasture

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Three cows standing in green grass