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Working Ranch - March 2018

began after the 58,000-plus acre wildfi re was contained. “We lost a lot of fence in the fi re,” Jen explains. “Our lease is really steep country, so we skidded posts by horse into some areas to get the fence wire stood back up. In the years since, the burnt trees just keep blowing down onto the fence. It’s an ongoing project.” YOUNG COWS With Tod and Vicky’s step back from active ranch management, Chris and (RIGHT) Vicky Vineyard plays with her grandson Charlie. Jen lead the operation. “We’re silent partners now,” Vicky says of her and Tod’s role. “We spend our winters in Arizona, and come back when the kids say the snow is melted.” “But we are hired hands,” Tod laughs. “And we don’t pay them very well,” Jen adds with a smile. “But Dad still helps calve. I call him our 1-800-phone-a-calving-expert.” The 72 Ranch herd is young: the oldest cows are six-years-old. The family holds back all of their heifer calves each year. To maintain steady herd numbers, a draft of cows are sold each fall along with the steer calves. “We started doing this because we grew our herd by buying bred commercial Angus heifers,” Tod explains. “We’d calve them out and keep the better heifers. Then we’d sell older cows to keep buying better stock. We continue to do this to improve our herd. Someday the cattle will be exactly the way we want them.” Tod describes his ideal cattle without hesitation: birth weight below 86 pounds, scrotal measurement over 36, a bull producing over 650-pound weaned calves, milk EPDs (expected progeny differences) in the mid-20s, deep rib cage, and a moderate frame that carries as much beef as possible. “I’ve been told my numbers are unrealistic by the bull guys,” Tod admits, “but it works for us. We want a moderate cow that feeds out well, but also survives a 6-year drought while breeding back and producing. I think as long as cattle are on grass in Wyoming, there’ll always be a market for moderate cows because they survive here better than larger, crossbred cows.” At the sale barn, feeders often look to purchase calves with the heaviest carcass weight. “But our moderate frame calves are popular at the sale barn when corn is over $4.00 a MARCH 2018 I WORKING RANCH I 53


Working Ranch - March 2018
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