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 www.ExploreBeef.org.