Affiliate Highlight: Southwestern Montana Stockman’s – Dillon

Pushing cattle in Ledford Creek Grazing Allotment by Neil Barnosky

Pushing cattle in Ledford Creek Grazing Allotment by Neil Barnosky

Here in southwestern Montana we are having a good start to the summer season. It is still dry but the grass in the mountains is exceptional in most areas, although there have been some problems with stock water. It is a busy time but sure a rich time of year to be involved in the livestock business.

The Department of Labor is proposing changes to the H-2A guidelines for sheep herders that would be extremely difficult for ranchers to comply with. The wages for herders could increase 3 to 4 times and the living conditions that would be mandated could be impossible to meet in open range situations. The DOL is also proposing changes to the housing requirements for H-2A irrigation workers that would be expensive to meet. We have sent comments to the DOL on both for these issues and are hoping that common sense will prevail.

The matter in this area that has everyone’s attention is a lawsuit filed by a Bozeman-based sportsman’s group to stop the grazing of sheep on seven U.S. Forest Service allotments on the Gravelly Range Mountains. An injunction was sought against two of the allotments for this grazing season. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris rejected the injunction as he was not convinced that the suit is likely to succeed on the merits or likely that irreparable harm was likely to occur while he decides the merits of the case.

At issue is that grazing of sheep threatens to harm federally protected grizzly bears and prevents the return of bighorn sheep to the Gravelly Range. It is hard to keep a straight face when you say that sheep are a threat to grizzly bears. Sheep have grazed in this area for around 150 years and the grizzly bear population continues to grow. We feel that this is not a sheep issue but a grazing of livestock on public lands issue and running livestock in an area where a protected species exists, issue. We are seeking council as to the best approach to help in this lawsuit.

We talk in our different groups how we are not getting out the message of how important the livestock industry is to our local communities, our state and our nation. We end up reacting rather than being proactive. Some of our younger members are tackling this through the use of social media. In listening to their understanding of how all of this works and the ideas they are working on, I am excited to see where this goes. Right now they are gathering pictures, videos, and information about the contributions of livestock to our lives so as to begin with some real substance. MSGA has volunteered to help in any way possible and we are very appreciative of their support.

This is a great industry we have the privilege to be a part of. I hope this finds you all well.

Veterinary Technician Programs to be Offered at Montana Western

New Collaboration with the University of Montana Western Makes Courses Possible

Pima Medical Institute veterinary technician students learn how to X-ray a horse’s leg during class.

Pima Medical Institute veterinary technician students learn how to X-ray a horse’s leg during class.

DILLON – Pima Medical Institute is proud to announce the introduction of a veterinary technician associate degree and veterinary assistant certificate in collaboration with the University of Montana Western. Classes begin in November.

Pima Medical Institute – founded in 1972 in Tucson, Ariz. – offers both the degree and certificate at several of its campuses, including in Arizona, Colorado, California, Colorado, Texas, Nevada and Washington State. Pima Medical also offers other certificate, associate and bachelor’s degrees in multiple healthcare-related specialties at its many campuses and through its online education.

No other educational institutions in Montana offer a veterinary technician associate degree or a veterinary assistant certificate.

“Students will come from all over the state and beyond to attend these programs,” said Pima Medical Institute Chief Executive Officer and President, Fred Freedman. “This new partnership with the University of Montana Western is strategic in that all parties benefit from the relationship, especially the students.”

Students who enroll in the veterinary technician associate degree or veterinary assistant certificate program will have access to a state-of-the art learning facility, study under instructors with years of professional experience and have access to the university’s facilities, such as housing, dining and recreation.

“There’s already huge interest in these programs,” said University of Montana Western Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Karl Ulrich. “Many of our equine studies students are interested in the programs our collaboration will create as a way to enhance their education.”

With more than 2.5 million head of cattle and an estimated $1.4 billion in annual livestock sales, it only makes sense to increase the number of highly trained veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants within the state of Montana.

“Currently I have to go out of state to recruit vet techs,” said Dr. Rick Scherr, chairman for the Montana Veterinary Medical Association’s Vet Tech Board and founder of Big Sky Animal Medical Center in Great, Falls, Mont. “I often fly to Denver to recruit techs because there aren’t any in Montana. It’s a problem for veterinarians across the state. Adding these programs will really help to fill that gap.”

The veterinary technician associate degree is an 18-month program that teaches students how to become veterinary nurses. The curriculum focuses on animal behavior and care, surgical assisting, laboratory testing and nursing procedures.

The veterinary assistant certificate is a nine-month program that trains students to be skilled in providing post-operative animal care, surgical assistance, teeth cleaning, medication administration, blood draws, lab work and much more.

“We need highly trained people in these roles,” Ulrich said. “Pima Medical has played a vital role in making these programs a reality.”

Both programs will allow students to work with small and large animals in a newly equipped facility on the University of Montana Western’s campus. Students who enroll will be eligible to live on campus, use the university’s facilities, such as the library and gym, and get meals on campus.

In addition, Pima Medical students will work with the Beaverhead Animal Shelter in Dillon to provide animals with services such as spaying and neutering, dental cleanings and lab work. Pima Medical often works with a city’s shelters and humane societies, resulting in a greater level of animal care and increased adoption rates.

Beaverhead Animal Shelter’s director, Susie Brown, is excited to start the partnership with Pima Medical students. The shelter has on average 150 animals a day that are brought in from four counties and beyond.

“It doesn’t matter what it is – a dog, cat, horse, pig, hamster – we take it. We provide a lot of care for these animals, but naturally it takes funding. This partnership with Pima Medical will really help,” Brown said. “Students will get hands-on experience working with animals, and the animals will get the care they need.”

To learn more about Pima Medical Institute, visit The University of Montana Western can be found online at To speak to someone about enrolling, call 1888-442-5998.

Western Montana Ranchers Elected to Stockgrowers Board of Directors

Race King of Dillon joins the MSGA Board as Western District Director

Race King of Dillon joins the MSGA Board as Western District Director

At the 130th Annual Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention and Trade Show last month, members elected two new ranchers to the MSGA Board of Directors. Race King of Dillon will join the 13-member Board for a two-year term, representing the Western Montana district; a seat previously held by Ray Marxer of Twin Bridges. Bryan Mussard of Dillon was elected at 1st Vice President.

Race King manages the LaCense ranch near Dillon. He and his wife, Rochelle, have four children, Cache (22), Carly (20), Carson (18) and Coby (14).

“My wife and I were both raised on livestock operations and we desired the opportunity to raise our children in that same environment,” says Race. “We feel truly blessed to have been able to spend our entire lives working with livestock and the great people in our communities. I’m grateful to be able to work alongside my family and watch them develop a passion for this great business and the way of life it provides us all.”

When asked what are the major challenges the beef industry will face in the next 10 years, Race recognized the ranching community’s need to focus on federal regulations, resource management and employee development.

Bryan Mussard was elected as first Vice President on the Stockgrowers Board of Directors. Bryan and wife Marcia have raised six children and operate Reminisce Angus near Dillon. Bryan has been actively involved in the commercial feeding business for 40 years. Today, his operation weans, backgrounds, and develops cattle, collecting genetic data for customers through the Tracker marketing program. Bryan also manages ranches through the Big West Management Program.

Bryan Mussard, Second Vice President

Bryan Mussard of Dillon was elected as 1st Vice President on the MSGA Board

Ray Marxer of Twin Bridges is the outgoing representative for the Western District on the MSGA Board of Directors. Marxer was elected in 2010 and has represented ranchers in Western Montana for two consecutive terms. Ray, along with his wife Sue, worked on the Matador Ranch for 37 years, where he retired as manager in 2011. Ray remains active in the livestock community through consulting and involvement in area youth and fair programs.

Other changes to the Montana Stockgrowers Board of Directors include Tucker Hughes of Stanford completing his term as President. Gene Curry of Valier was elected as President, while Fred Wacker of Miles City joins the MSGA officer team as second Vice President and Jess Drange of Ismay joins as Director, representing Southeastern Montana ranchers.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy measures, which guide the Association in representing its members on local, state and federal issues. To learn more about Stockgrowers programs or membership, visit or contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.

Collegiate Stockgrowers Launch at Montana Western

Montana Stockgrowers Association is proud to announce the formation of a third Collegiate Stockgrowers club. Students at the University of Montana Western in Dillon have been hard at work this past fall semester to launch the student club affiliated with MSGA.

Although the Collegiate Stockgrowers are new to the Western campus, they already have big plans to increase involvement in the community. “We are introducing ourselves to local businesses and talking to anyone who is interested,” says Haley Rayl, club Secretary. “We have been contacted by many local ranchers looking for help this calving season with general ranch hand duties.”

Local MSGA members have been big supporters of the Collegiate Stockgrowers club during the formation. MSGA 1st Vice President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon, and several members of the Southwestern Montana Stockmen’s Association who are local to Dillon have expressed interest in helping the University club grow on campus and in the community.

The Western Collegiates hope to bring educational opportunities to the Western campus that will help students learn more about the ranching industry in and around Dillon. Mike Rose, current President and club co-founder, recognized the impact of Beaverhead County’s ranching industry to the state and hopes to support local ranchers through club service projects. The Collegiates have also been working with area high school programs to work with their agriculture programs, involving younger students in learning and service projects.

Several members of the Western CSG group made the trip to Billings for MSGA’s Annual Convention in December. The students participated in Cattlemen’s College workshops, attended policy committee meetings and made good use of their time networking with Stockgrower members from across the state.

Western students will join other Collegiate Stockgrower members from Montana State University in Bozeman and MSU-Northern in Havre on an educational trip to the National Western Stock Show in Denver next month. The cooperation of all three collegiate clubs speaks to the involvement and energy surrounding Montana’s Collegiate and Young Stockgrower membership programs.

To contact the Collegiate Stockgrowers at University of Montana Western, email To learn more about Collegiate and Young Stockgrowers programs, contact Ryan Goodman at the MSGA office, (406) 442-3420 or

Mid-Year meeting photos posted

Hi all.
Photos from 2010’s Mid-Year meeting have been posted to Facebook. Even if you do not have a Facebook account, you can still view them by clicking this link: Mid-Year Photos.
Let us know what you thought of the meeting by leaving comments either on this blog or on Facebook. Enjoy!