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.

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 or visit our Facebook page to join the conversation!

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.

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; 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, or contact Ryan Goodman at 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.

Listen to this post on the SoundCloud Podcast!

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

Montana Rancher Feature: When Wildfire Takes Over

Map via KXLH

Map via KXLH

Montana Stockgrowers Association‘s members are no strangers to Mother Nature and are subject to floods, fires, storms, and much more during the year. In 2012, southeast Montana experienced severe wildfire damage. In this video, Marian Hanson of Ashland explains how the Ash Creek Fire Complex affected her ranch and how they plan to move on. This video is part of the Montana Family Ranching Project.

Even though Marian, along with many other Montana ranchers, experienced devastating losses from the fire, the persevering spirit helped them to overcome the tragedy and start again. Nearly a year and a half has passed and every day, these ranchers are still reminded of what happened…whether it’s having to rebuild fence, seek financial assistance, or simply compare stories from the event with neighbors. Ash Creek Montana Fire Burns Ranches

Marian and her daughter Jackie Musgrove will be featured in the Montana Stockgrowers second volume of the Montana Family Ranching Series coffee table book: Ladies and Livestock. This book will be released in digital format for the iPad. Be checking back for details of its release. Please email Lauren for more information:

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American National CattleWomen, President Barbara Jackson


The Montana Stockgrowers Association was happy to have the American National CattleWomen president, Barbara Jackson, at our annual convention this past December. She gave us an inspirational talk about the need to advocate for the beef industry and why it’s important for women to get involved at our local, state, and national levels. Watch the video below to hear Barbara’s story and the goals of ANCW for 2014.

Would you like to join the ANCW? Visit Also, be sure to check out the Montana CattleWomen’s website for ways to be involved at the state level.


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Montana Stockgrowers Association Board of Directors member Mark Harrison and wife Patti

Mark Harrison of Belt completes term on Montana Stockgrowers Board of Directors

Montana Stockgrowers Association Board of Directors member Mark Harrison and wife PattiThis week we are highlighting three Montana ranchers who just finished their terms on the MSGA Board of Directors. We are very thankful for all of the ranchers and their families who dedicate time to making sure our organization operates smoothly and continues to serve Montana Ranching Families well into the future.

Mark Harrison of Belt has completed two terms on the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) Board of Directors representing the North Central District. His peers elected Mark to the 13-member board in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. Mark was honored for his service at MSGA’s 129th Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, Dec. 12-14.

“Due to health complications, Mark chose to shorten his second term on the Board of Directors, but we are very pleased to hear his health is improving,” says MSGA President, Tucker Hughes of Stanford. “Mark, his wife Patti, their whole family and crew have been great supporters of MSGA and our ranching communities. “Mark has been an outspoken leader for the ranching communities. His ability to ask the tough question at our board meetings without being offensive is an admirable quality. He and Patti have always been willing to step up to the plate when events needed to be hosted, such as our Mid Year event in 2012”

The Harrison family moved to Montana in 2003. Mark and Patti purchased the old Jolly Roger ranch near Belt and have been building their own registered Angus Seedstock herd since then. The Harrisons also run a commercial herd; around 400 pairs total. Harrison Land & Livestock held their first production sale in March of 2010.

Montana Stockgrowers Association Board of Directors Mark Harrison and Gene Curry

Mark and Patti have four children. Their two oldest sons, Matt and Joe, live and work on the ranch. Nathan serves in the Army. Elizabeth is currently in college.

Prior to moving to Montana, Mark served on the Foundation Board for Aquinas High School in La Crosse, Wis. and on the American Red Cross Board in La Crosse.

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This week we are highlighting three Montana ranchers who just finished their terms on the MSGA Board of Directors. We are very thankful for all of the ranchers and their families who dedicate time to making sure our organization operates smoothly and continues to serve Montana Ranching Families well into the future.

Derrell Peel is the Charles Breedlove Professor of Agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics

2014 Cattle Market Outlook with Darrell Peel

Dr. Darrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Livestock Economist visits with us at the 129th annual Montana Stockgrowers Convention and Trade Show with an outlook on what we can expect from the cattle markets and trends looking forward to 2014.

Dr. Peel lead two workshops at the 129th annual convention in Billings and discussed the 2014 cattle market outlook and trends with ranchers in attendance. To read more about Convention highlights, click here for more posts on the blog.


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