There are 2.5 million head of cattle in Montana, nearly three cows for every person in the state.

Most cattle ranchers in Montana operate cow/calf ranches. These are the ranches you see along highways and country road where calves graze in herds on large pastures within sight of their mothers. As calves reach six to 10 months of age, they are weaned from their mothers. Weaned calves often graze until they are about one year old and then they are sold to a cattle feeder or a stocker/backgrounder who will prepare the animal for the feedlot. Many of these feeding operations are located in the Mid-West, however, Montana does have a small but healthy cattle feeding and stocker/backgrounder industry. Montana is home to a number of grass-finishing cattle ranches, where cattle are grazed on grass and hay until they are ready to be processed.

Montana is also recognized on a national and international level for our exceptional cattle and genetics. Montana has a number of “seedstock” ranchers who strive to improve the genetics and traits of cattle in the breeding herd, and export these genetics through live animals, semen or embryos nationally and internationally.

Montana’s family ranches bring in around $1 billion a year in cash receipts to the state of Montana. That makes up around half of the cash receipts of Montana’s largest economic driver—agriculture.

To learn more about ranching in Montana, please visit the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Facebook page. Here you will find informative videos and photo slide shows about Montana’s family ranchers and the issues that affect them.

For more information about modern beef production and concerns about its impact on the environment, animal care, food safety and nutrition, please visit

Dr. Jude Capper recently visited a few ranches in Montana and shares with us her thoughts on what she saw there and how it all relates to sustainability of the environment and the beef community.

Padlock Ranch, an MSGA member headquartered out of Dayton, Wyo. with operations in Wyoming and Montana, was named the winner of the National Beef Quality Assurance Award. The ranch is a leader in implementation of innovative beef management practices including low stress cattle handling and fence line weaning, which significantly reduce health risks and assure productivity. Use of these practices and others has enabled Padlock to achieve high levels of health in their cattle and also to produce beef that qualifies for value-added markets. Congratulations to Wayne Fahsholtz and his crew!

In South Phillips County, near the hub of Malta, Montana, ranchers have called the prairie home for over 100 years. Here, ranchers have created a ranch and wildlife haven by working and living in harmony with nature. In this video, ranchers discuss the importance of raising their families here, developing innovative ranch management practices, working in cooperation with each other and building a lasting community to protect these prairielands. Biologists and conservationists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service also discuss the importance of ranchers in sustaining this diverse ecosystem and the wildlife species it supports.

Ed and David Fryer, managers of the Castle Mountain Ranch in White Sulphur Springs, Mont., volunteer their time teaching other ranchers their low-stress cattle handling techniques at Beef Quality Assurance trainings across Montana. In this video, Ed & David talk about their techniques and why careful cattle care is important. This video is brought to you by Montana Beef Quality Assurance, the Montana Beef Council, the Montana Stockgrowers Association, and MSGA’s Research, Education, and Endowment Foundation.