Running Ranchers Bring Beef and Fitness to Television

Motnana Running Ranchers Ragnar 2015 VanIt’s been a busy week getting the word out about our Montana Running Ranchers relay team and the Team Beef program. This has included sharing the word in a few different television programs across the state.

On Tuesday, our friends at the Northern Ag Networkwere kind enough to include us in a segment on the Noon News which airs on CBS stations across the state. Lane Nordlund is a great person to work with and has been a great addition to the NAN team during the past year. Read our story on the Northern Ag Network site.

We then had a great opportunity to be featured on the statewide Wake Up Montana morning news, which is broadcast on ABC Fox Montana and KULR (Billings). Stephanie Ponte is a great reporter new to the area, and new to the topics of beef and ranching. There are morning people, then there are folks who are filled with tons of energy and enthusiasm before 6 a.m. It was great to meet Stephanie and we look forward to introducing her to even more Montana ranchers. Thanks for helping us share our story of beef and fitness in the ranching community and how everyone can include beef as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle! Read our story on KULR8.

Next up for many of the relay team members are the Bozeman Marathon and Half Marathon, September 13. Later that week, they’ll also be taking part in the inaugural Montana CattleWomen Ranch Run, a 25 mile relay on ranches in Lennep. We hope you’ll consider showing up, cheering everyone on and possibly even joining the races.

To learn more about the Team Beef Montana program, visit the Montana Beef Council’s website. Go ahead and fill out your application to join the program!

Be sure to follow the Montana Running Ranchers through Facebook! Running these 200-mile relays is so much more than showing up for 27 hours of fun. There are plenty of training runs, ranching adventures and races across Montana that team members participate in. Join the Facebook group, encourage team members and learn more about how beef is part of their training and competition.

Judith Gap Rancher Receives Honorary Doctorate from Montana State

robert bob lee judith gapAt this weekend’s Spring Commencement, a long-time Stockgrowers member will receive an honorary doctorate in Animal and Range Sciences from Montana State University. Robert “Bob” Lee of Judith Gap is an established leader in the Montana agricultural community and has received many recognitions for his work throughout the years.

Lee and his wife, Kathy, own and operate the Robert E. Lee Ranch Company, a diversified cattle and grain operation located in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in central Montana. The ranch has been recognized for its approach to managing its natural resources, including rangeland and water resources. It is also well-known for the tours it offers to groups from across the state and nation, as well as around the globe.

Bob Lee speaking with media at his ranch after receiving the 1996 Environmental Stewardship Award.

Bob Lee speaking with media at his ranch after receiving the 1996 Environmental Stewardship Award.

“Bob’s service to our country interrupted his college career but did not stop him from becoming an integral part of Montana’s premier cattle industry.” says Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President. “His contributions to the betterment of our business and his ongoing stewardship for the land, and commitment to building strong agriculture leaders demonstrates his dedication to what he believes in.”

Lee has served as an active member of Montana Stockgrowers  for many years. In 1995 and 1996, the Lee Ranch was recognized for their work in environmental stewardship, conservation and sustainability as recipients of the Montana, Regional and National Environmental Stewardship Award.

Lee served as chairman of the Montana Board of Livestock from 1999-2005, as well as chairman of the Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative steering committee and Montana Governor’s Rangelands Resource executive committee. On a national level, Lee has served as chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee, as well as on the National Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative steering committee.

Lee attended MSU Northern, but was drafted two months before graduation and spent six years serving the country in the Air National Guard.

Everyone at MSGA congratulates Bob on his recognition and thanks him for continued work and contributions in the Montana ranching community.

Branding on Montana Cattle Ranches | Video

With Spring comes one of our favorite times of year. As calving is wrapping up for many ranches across Montana, those who started calving earlier in the year will begin branding in preparation for turnout on Spring and Summer grass ranges. Often when we ask ranchers across the state what they love about ranching, branding is an event that will more than likely be included in their response. It’s a great time for community as several neighbors join in to help, with great food and many memorable experiences.

One of our ranchers near Sidney, Montana recently captured their family’s Spring branding in aerial video. It’s a very cool perspective to watch as the cattle are gathered, sorted and branded.

Why do Montana ranchers brand cattle?

Livestock branding has existed for centuries in European countries and eventually migrating to Central and North Americas. Since the earliest days on ranges, hot iron brands were used as a form of permanent identification to prevent rustling and served as a marker when sorting out mixed herds in common grazing areas.

Today, ranchers still brand cattle as a form of permanent identification to differentiate cattle from neighboring ranches and to prevent theft. Branding day is an opportunity for ranchers to give calves vaccinations and closely inspect their herds before turning cattle out on summer pastures. The branding events also serve as a strong tie to the heritage and culture of the American West.

During recent years, the cattle industry has recognized the significant contribution of cattle hides in leather markets and the negative impact excessive brand scarring can have on the value of that leather. Efforts have been made to reduce the number of brands, or relocate brands to reduce negative impacts on the hide value. Freeze branding has also become more popular in certain regions of the country as an alternative to hot iron branding.

We asked our current President, Gene Curry, a rancher from Valier, Montana why his family brands their cattle. Find out his perspective and watch branding day with his family in this video.

Who regulates cattle brands?

 

As a permanent form of identification, each brand, and its location on the animal must be different. Each state handles its registration and regulation of brands differently. In Montana, this is tracked and regulated by the Brands Enforcement Division of the Department of Livestock (DOL). Brands Inspectors must inspect cattle at the time of sale or when cattle are transported from one location to another to verify ownership or record change of ownership.

To ensure that all brands are different, the DOL records brands and their location on the animal, which are published in a Brand Book. Brands must be recorded every 10 years. Ranchers are keeping up with technology, as last year this database of brands was made available in a mobile application, which can search through the entire brands database to identify an owner or location of the brand.

Brands must be recorded as being on a specific location on the animal. These locations often include the hip, rib, shoulder, side or jaw. The image to the right shows several different locations for brands on cattle.

Read more about how brands are registered and tracked by visiting the Montana Department of Livestock.

How do I read cattle brands?

Brands on livestock come in many shapes and sizes, and are based on a characters consisting of letters, numbers, lines or symbols. The brands are read from left to right. top-down, or outside-in. The position of the character makes a difference in how it is read. If a letter or number is on its side, it is read as “lazy”. If it has a quarter/half circle underneath the main character, it is read as “rocking”. Other symbols include diamonds, circles, rafters, crosses and bars.

Learn more about reading cattle brands from the Texas Brand Registration.

Every brand has a story

What is the story behind your ranch’s brand? Has your brand been passed down through the generations? Is there a story to the characters included? Maybe its a new brand with a nod toward a bright future?

Share your story with us and share a photo of your brand. Email ryan@mtbeef.org or visit our Facebook page to join the conversation!

Know Ranch Employee Needs to Improve People Management

In this video, Casey Risinger, DVM, Risinger Veterinary Hospital, Terrell, Texas, says you have to change yourself to help your team succeed. “I wasn’t sure if this program was something that would work in a veterinary clinic or if it was specifically for a feedyard or dairy. And it wasn’t at all. It was all about if you manage people.” Learn more at GrowPeopleFirst.com.

In this video, Casey Risinger, DVM, Risinger Veterinary Hospital, Terrell, Texas, says you have to change yourself to help your team succeed. “I wasn’t sure if this program was something that would work in a veterinary clinic or if it was specifically for a feedyard or dairy. And it wasn’t at all. It was all about if you manage people.” Learn more at GrowPeopleFirst.com.

Dr. Casey Risinger is a veterinarian. But he is also a manager of people.

Until now, Dr. Risinger had never given a review to any of his team members. He didn’t know how much he, his staff and business needed it.

“I’ve been told by other people, yes, you need to do this, but I had put it off and put it off,” said Dr. Risinger, of Risinger Veterinary Hospital in Terrell, Texas. “I just think everybody knows what’s going on and what to do. I know what I expect and surely everybody reads my mind. But I realize they don’t.”

Learning how to communicate in new ways with staff helped him see how much he could support his team.

“The reviews really helped me have a better understanding of what was expected of me and what they thought I was expecting out of them,” Dr. Risinger said. “They want to know how they can get better, where I think they can get better, and then they want to be able to express what I can do to help them.”

It even made him aware of issues he had never considered before.

“I would realize there was a problem, but I really didn’t understand where it was coming from,” he said. “I never thought about that, and I think that was one of the key things, is just understanding where people are at and where I can help them. Now I’ve got the tools to do that.”

The only way your business gets bigger and better is through your ability to manage people, he continued.

“I have to change first,” Dr. Risinger said. “The better I get, the better I should be able to help staff, help new employees, help existing people find out the needs they have. I can help the staff, and the more they know, and the more they’ve been trained, the more they can help the customer.

“Encouragement is always the best motivator, and when clients give comments and feedback, this gets everybody excited about trying to do a better job.”

In this video, hear more from Dr. Risinger about how you can learn to help your team. For help identifying ways to build a better team and veterinary clinic, operation or business, contact your local Zoetis representative or visit GrowPeopleFirst.com.

This is part of a series on rancher continuing education articles and provided by Zoetis. To see more rancher education posts, click here.

A Different Age of Managing Ranch Employees

In this video, Jason Gerstberger, yard manager at Pioneer Feedyard in Oakley, Kansas, shares why managers need to better understand employees. Learn more at GrowPeopleFirst.com.

In this video, Jason Gerstberger, yard manager at Pioneer Feedyard in Oakley, Kansas, shares why managers need to better understand employees. Learn more at GrowPeopleFirst.com.

Every employee has a different way of working, thinking and communicating, especially when it comes to different generations. It’s easy to see those differences and challenges, but it’s not as simple to manage.

Rather than just trying to change the team or individuals, it’s important that managers learn how to recognize generational differences and adapt. For Pioneer Feedyard near Oakley, Kansas, this required a different way to manage.

“There’s always challenges with age, race, even males and females in the industry,” said Jason Gerstberger, yard manager at Pioneer Feedyard. “The biggest one was learning to deal with different generational gaps and how to get one generation to understand another generation without causing too many problems or issues. In the older generation, they didn’t ask why, they just went ahead and did the work. But with the younger generation, they want to know why before they go do it.”

Gerstberger understands that to overcome this challenge and get the most out of each employee, managers and supervisors need to take the time to understand each person — and what keeps him or her motivated. It means taking time to understand how to best communicate with people as individuals.

To better learn how to do this, Pioneer Feedyard sent managers through the PeopleFirst™ Supervisory Certificate Program from Zoetis.

“PeopleFirst — we invested in it to get the benefits that we could, to get the most potential out of our employees that we could, not only by work, but by understanding what they’re doing,” Gerstberger said. “And in doing those things, get more out of our people.”

“What it allowed us to do is push our foremen a little bit more,” he continued.

“It helps to tell the older generation, ‘explain to these guys why you’re doing it, and they’ll be able to get it done a lot better and be able to do it with you,’” Gerstberger said. “The foremen are probably more engaged with the individuals they are working with. They can understand how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it. They understand what they’re seeing, what the problems are and help them to fix and increase their profitability on their issues.”

Gerstberger knows that adapting your management style can go a long way.

“Individuals, if they can learn to react a little different to certain situations, they’ll get more respect from the people working under them and, therefore, we’ll get more benefit out of it here at this yard,” Gerstberger said. “You’re going to get more profitability, which they can put back into the cattle.”

In this video, hear more from Gerstberger about what you can do to help your team understand the value of their role to the company’s success. For help identifying ways to invest in and strengthen your employees, contact your local Zoetis representative or visit GrowPeopleFirst.com.

This is part of a series on rancher continuing education articles and provided by Zoetis. To see more rancher education posts, click here.

Peterson Farm Brothers I'm So Farmer Parody Video

Peterson Farm Brothers Continue Advocacy with ‘I’m so Farmer’ Parody Melody

Peterson Farm Brothers I'm So Farmer Parody Video

Image via Peterson Farm Brothers Facebook

The Peterson Farm Brothers of Kansas have risen to online fame over the past few years with a series of YouTube videos to parody popular songs found on radio stations across the globe. Their work involves taking the melodies from celebrity artists and creating lyrics that describe farm and ranch life. The results are catchy earworms that connect with urban consumers with messages that reflect the work of modern farm families in the heart of the country.

This week, Greg, Nathan and Kendal Peterson took on a new challenge, mixing the melodies of five popular songs and putting them to the tune of fall work on the farm and ranch in Kansas. ‘I’m So Farmer includes pieces of the songs Turn Down For What (DJ Snake). Talk Dirty (Jason Derulo), All About That Bass (Meghan Trainor), Fancy (Iggy Azalea), and Let it Go (Frozen).

I’ll be honest, after listening to the Peterson’s twist on popular lyrics, I can’t help but put a farm twist when I hear the original versions on the radio. What are your favorite lines in their parody melody this go-round? Are there any other chart-topping songs you’d love to take on an agriculture advocacy message? Be sure to watch all of the videos on the Peterson Farm Brothers’ YouTube channel.

Outside of videos, Greg, Nathan and Kendal have taken to utilizing their Facebook page to continue to the conversation with their audience, sharing farm-related memes and promoting their videos. Greg also has several blog entries which go more in-depth on several hot topic issues related to agriculture and their videos, including animal welfare, sustainability, genetically modified crops, and Chipotle Mexican Grill’s choice to oppose modern farming practices. Some of these posts have been shared on the popular online news site, Huffington Post.

The Petersons are a great example of utilizing your skills and interests to find a mutual connection that shares the message of farming and ranching with a general audience. More folks from the agriculture community should look for these opportunities to advocate. Whether it be online or in your communities, each person that share their story of agriculture makes a difference.

Importance of Environmental Stewardship with Padlock Ranch’s Wayne Fahsholtz | Montana Rancher Q&A

Wayne Fahsholtz Padlock Ranch

Wayne Fahsholtz

Each year, the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Beef Council and the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Foundation, honors a Montana ranch that exemplifies environmental stewardship and demonstrates a commitment toward improved sustainability within their communities. This award recognizes Montana ranchers who are at the forefront in conservation and stewardship and are willing to serve as examples for other ranchers.

The Padlock Ranch, located in both Montana and Wyoming, has won both the respective state awards, and received the Regional ESAP recognition. Ranch manager Wayne Fahsholtz has worked with the ranch crew and family owners to implement outstanding stewardship practices and continues to strive daily to create an environmentally sustainable beef cattle operation. Wayne answered a few questions for us about winning the award and some advice for other ranchers:

Why do you think the Environmental Stewardship Program is important for Montana (and Wyoming)? 

The award is a way to communicate with others about good practices that are occurring on the land.  With rancher to rancher communication, we learn from each other and can improve or avoid costly mistakes.  With rancher to customer, it allows us to visit about what is happening and help dispel some of the myths about land management.  

In your opinion, what makes a Montana/Wyoming rancher a good steward of the land?

Good stewards know what condition their resource is in and have plans that will maintain or improve those resources.  

Can you give us a few examples of innovations and projects you are most proud of at the Padlock Ranch? 

The biggest impact was the implementation of a planned time rotational grazing system. This keeps livestock from being in pastures season long and it rotates the time of use for a pasture. It is fairly simple but has great results.  

Cattle on the Padlock RanchThe Padlock Ranch is a great example of how a beef cattle business and the western landscape can co-exist…how can other ranches follow this lead?  

One of the things that I have tried to do is to be transparent about how we operate.  Over 95% of our population is far removed from production agriculture.   We need to be creative in the ways we communicate and educate this population.  So, I would urge ranchers to share their stories and ranches with others around them that may not understand about agriculture.  

How did you feel when you learned that the Padlock Ranch was selected as both state and regional winner? 

It was a great honor and great to be able to share that with everyone involved with the ranch.  At the same time, it was humbling because I know what a good job my fellow ranchers do and to be singled out was an honor and hopefully I represented everyone well.  

Do you have any advice for ranches considering to apply for the award? 

Just do it! The application process can be intimidating but once you get started it flows fairly well. You can get help from stockgrowers staff and past winners.

Ranches wishing to apply for the award and recognition are asked to complete an application packet (available at mtbeef.org/mesap); due to the MSGA office by June 30. Nominations can be submitted by contacting the MSGA office. Ranches must be a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association to qualify for the award. A committee, which will include representatives from Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Beef Council, past Environmental Stewardship Award winners, and others invested in Montana stewardship and conservation will evaluate the applications after all applications are completed.

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Montana Environmental Stewardship Award

Montana Stockgrowers Seeking Applications for 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award

Montana Environmental Stewardship AwardHelena, MT – Do you know a Montana rancher who is a leader in stewardship, implementing conservation practices to ensure the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of their operation? Encourage them to apply for the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award, presented by the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA).  Applications for the 2014 award are due June 30.

Each year, MSGA honors Montana ranches that exemplify environmental stewardship and demonstrate commitment toward improved sustainability within their communities. This award recognizes Montana ranchers who are at the forefront in conservation and stewardship and are willing to serve as examples for other ranchers.

“Montana ranchers are leaders in this country when it comes to being stewards of our environment and conserving the natural resources that help make Montana such a great state to live in,” said Ryan Goodman, MSGA manager of communications. “We are asking the community to get involved in helping us identify ranches that really go above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship and conservation in their local areas.”

2013 Montana ESAP Award Winner – LaSalle Ranch, Havre, MT. Read more in a previous post.

Ranches wishing to apply for the award and recognition are asked to complete an application packet (available at mtbeef.org/mesap); due to the MSGA office by June 30. Nominations can be submitted by contacting the MSGA office. Ranches must be a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association to qualify for the award. A committee, which will include representatives from Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Beef Council, past Environmental Stewardship Award winners, and others invested in Montana stewardship and conservation will evaluate the applications after all applications are completed.

The ranch chosen for the award will be announced at MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings, Dec. 11-13 at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The Montana ESAP winner will then work with MSGA staff to prepare their application for the Regional and National Award competition, which is typically due in early March of the following year.

Since 1992, Montana Stockgrowers has honored 21 state winners, ten of whom went on to win the regional award and two named national award winners. To learn more, visit www.mtbeef.org/mesap, or contact Ryan Goodman at ryan@mtbeef.org or (406) 442-3420. The Montana Environmental Stewardship Award is sponsored by MSGA’s Research and Education Endowment Foundation and funded by Montana Beef Producers with Checkoff Dollars.

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A Day In The Life of Calving Season | Give It Everything You’ve Got

sitz angus ranch cold calving february

The temperature was 20 degrees below zero. Ranchers were dressed in not one, but two pairs of thick Carhartt coveralls. If there was any moisture at all, it froze almost immediately. At the Sitz Angus Ranch in Harrison, Montana, the weather wasn’t going to impede the work needed to be done that February day.

The cowboys spirit knows no boundaries…it was in the thick of calving season on the ranch and with temperatures as bitter as they were, the ranch crew was charged with putting the livestock’s well-being before their own comfort (like every other day) and help cows have healthy baby calves.

I followed along with Rebecca Timm and Kurt Puckett as they brought cows about to calve in from the icy, snow-covered pasture to the warm, straw-filled barn. They moved the cows in the building so the calf wouldn’t have such a temperature shock when it came out of its 100 degree home.

Even with around-the-clock care, sometimes the cows have a quick  delivery and aren’t seen in time to bring into the barn before they calve. That’s what happened the day I was on the ranch to one cow in particular.  Only a few minutes after she delivered her calf, Kurt and Rebecca found the little one and brought it in as fast as they could. He wasn’t up and moving as he should…instead, laid flat and barely was breathing. Here’s what happened…

The ranchers hypothesized that the mother cow may have accidentally sat on her calf which caused him some internal injuries and the inability to urinate. The cold weather wasn’t the only factor to his unfortunate situation. Even though the calf didn’t make it through the night, hundreds of other calves did with tender care from the ranch crew. We all wish that the one featured in the video could have been saved, but the dedicated ranchers gave everything they had for hours on its care. That’s the cowboy spirit!

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Are You a Young Rancher in Montana?

Join the Montana Young Stockgrowers Association!

If you are a young rancher in the state of Montana, consider a membership to the Young Stockgrowers Association. It’s a great way to meet your peers from across the state, learn from veteran MSGA leadership, and take part in several priceless opportunities during the year…from events to conferences. This group is made up of young ranchers, folks involved in the cattle business, students, and those who just want to meet new friends.

The Young Stockgrowers Association meets at both the Annual Convention in Billings and at the Mid-Year Meeting. Throughout the year, there are local YSG meetings, YSG-hosted events like the Cattle Crawl and Legislative Conference. Lacey Sutherlin – Stevensville – is the chair of the YSG during 2014 and Travis Brown – Sand Springs – is vice chair. Both would be more than happy to answer any questions or help you to get involved in YSG.

Travis had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville last month as was mentioned earlier this week in his KRIRM Leadership feature. Today he’ll share with us a few more highlights from the trip.

Cattle Convention Perspective from Young Stockgrowers

Travis BrownIn February, at the CIC, I had the opportunity to attend on behalf of the Young Stockgrower Committee, and what a convention it was.  There was tremendous excitement for the beef business as cattlemen from across the country gathered in the midst of the highest market we have ever seen.  My personal favorite part of the convention is the trade show, the industry’s largest, and is all held within the massive Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  Businesses from across the country come to display the newest technologies in the industry, meanwhile there are live cattle demonstrations going on in the background, it is truly a sight to see.

Another highlight of the convention, and of particular interest to Young Stockgrowers are the Cattlemen’s Colleges, sponsored by Zoetis.  There are several different speakers brought in from all over the United States to discuss issues facing all parts of the beef business from the ranch gate, to the grocery store, and even around the Washington DC Beltway.  It is truly interesting to see what Millennials, consumers age 20-30, are interested in as they develop their tastes and preferences and how beef can meet their demands for the future.  Millennials are the largest generation, even bigger than the Baby Boomers, and making sure that they choose beef as their go to source for high quality, delicious, and nutritious protein will make a big difference.

Lastly the speakers and the cattle industry convention are absolutely incredible. From speakers about leadership like Capitan Phillips and Archie Manning to in-depth perspective from the true experts in the industry during the CattleFax Update there is great information to be heard.  There are some unique challenges and exciting opportunities facing the beef business as this winter draws to a close and everyone is looking forward to calving.

Find out more about the MSGA Young Stockgrowers program at mtbeef.org.