Goats, Invasive Species & Other Odd Jobs

Jedidiah Hewlett has been busy with swathing hay, preparing for a shipment of goats, and welcoming new members to the Perry Cattle Company this past week. 

This week we welcomed the Perry’s niece (and family) to the ranch. Jeff and Amie Metzger have two boys, one is 5 years old and the other 6 months. Jeff will be working full time for the Perry Ranch.

We began to prepare for the arrival of 75 head of goat nannies that we will use to control the leafy spurge epidemic that has inundated the lease pasture where we graze the cows. The goats are coming from Oklahoma at about $100/head. The Perrys are hoping to turn these goats around after fattening them for about 30-45 days, and make some profit on them. There is also the potential that the Sheridan County Weed & Pest would pay the Perry Cattle Co. for helping reduce this very invasive species of weed. This week we put up another strand of electric fence to help contain the goats in the pastures. We also put wire cattle panels inside the pipe-panel corral to hold the goats at night. Nothing like this has been done in around here, so hopefully everything goes well!

We have continued to make our way through the first cutting of hay. We hauled and stacked all the bales off one meadow, and were pleased to find that it produced 2.5 tons/acre. We finished swathing another 69-acre meadow and got some of it baled as well. Despite a few equipment breakdowns, we have kept moving forward, and are happy to see such great yields.

Other than that, we have been doing odd jobs, from machinery maintenance to cleaning out the tack room (it desperately needed organization!). Jeff also gave me a lesson on how to trim horse hooves, which I enjoyed. The little bit of irrigation has been going very well, and has very much helped by the 2.5” of rain we were blessed to have.

Tyler: The All-around Ranch Hand

Intern Tyler Flatt has his hands very full at the Ladder Ranch. He has done a variable of things just in the last week, including (but not limited to) roofing, moving bulls and cows, and spending time with plenty of sheep. 

June is one of the busiest months of the year here at the Ladder Ranch. On Monday Randy and I finally got done putting the roof on that cabin. It looks nice now that it’s done. Tuesday I helped with irrigation again. I had to move tarps in the meadows to help the flood irrigation flow. That was fun until I fell in and got wet. After this we had to go get the bulls out of the pasture and we got all but one and I had to ride around and find it which took a while.

Wednesday I got the yard cleaned up around the cabin with the new roof then went to a pasture to help put up some fence and get it ready for the cattle to be moved in. Thursday, we cleaned up the yard around the ranch house, cut grass, picked up rocks and kind of put everything back where they were supposed to go. I also had to fix a few weed eaters and chainsaws. On Friday we moved about 100 cow/calf pairs up to the forest pasture. These were first year heifers so it was kind of a struggle but we got them up there and settled.

Saturday I spent all day discing a new pasture. Even though it was easy it made for a long day. Sunday, we docked another 950 lambs. We had two tail cutters this time so we got done a lot sooner than the last docking. Overall another great week here, and next week we have many sheep docking and cattle drives to look forward to.

Rangeland Intern Noah Schick: Storms, Landslides, Wrestling & Butterflies at the Red Canyon Ranch

This week Red Canyon ranch saw the biggest thunderstorm since 2010.  Over the course of one night it received two and a half inches of rain. Much of the week was spent repairing damage from the rain storm.  Several large boulders fell off the rim of red canyon severing some pipelines to the house. Irrigation pipes were washed out of place. The most dramatic result was a land slide on one of the pastures. Roughly a quarter acre of soil, twenty feet deep washed away in a single morning. No one on the ranch had ever seen a landslide so dramatic.

There was a branding held at the Ranch on Sunday. This time instead of pushing the calves into a shoot, we wrestled the calves. We also cleared a path on the ranch for the nature conservancy to hold a butterfly catching day for kids in Lander on June 16th. We also put up fence reflectors to prevent animals from running into the fences.

Learning the Haying Ropes

Intern Jedidiah Hewlett learned the hard way how much goes into cutting and bailing hay this past week at the Perry Cattle Company. A few parts and operator errors later, he got the hang of things, and was able to finish off the week horseback with some cattle herding. 

This week we started haying. I cleaned the swather off from being in storage and got it running. However, after about 5 minutes, a pulley seized and the belt started smoking! The sealed bearing in the center was worn out. We were able to get a new pulley from the equipment dealer even though the swather is an older model. After repairing the pulley and servicing the whole machine, we took off to the field. Mr. Perry taught me how to run the swather since I had never ran a hydro-swing one before. Although they are very handy for cutting around obstacles, it is a little tricky to run one! I accidentally cut off an irrigation riser which, I was told, officially initiated me on to the Perry haying team because everyone has done it. That made me feel a little better, but I was still disappointed in myself. Anyway, we got one meadow completely cut and baled this week. Having never been around alfalfa, that was a new experience. The alfalfa needs to have a little moisture on it to bale because otherwise the leaves are too dry and turn into dust, losing a lot of the hay’s nutrition value later. I ran around the field with the bobcat and set the bales in rows of 11 so that it would be quicker to load on a trailer. From my experience, it seems like a hayhiker would be a more efficient way to pick up all those bales, but it is another piece of machinery to add to the bill.

This week I also got to do a little cowboy work on horseback. We gathered the lease pasture which was very extensive and had gorgeous landscape. We took the cows back down the highway about 2 miles to another pasture. I also had to bring in a couple of bulls and doctor them for foot injuries. Thankfully, everything went smoothly.

Andrew Attends the Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention

Intern Andrew Mainini was able to make the trek to Buffalo for the 2017 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention & Trade Show. His biggest takeaway from last week was the changes in the beef industry and how it will start to be labeled and sold. He was also able to get in on a little bit of the haying action back at the E Bar U Ranch. 

This week I was fortunate enough to attend the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Convention in Buffalo, Wyoming. One topic of the convention that stuck out to me was that Wyoming beef would now be labeled with not only a product of the USA label, but also origin of birth and origin of slaughter. I believe this to be critical to marketing beef across the globe because it will add more value to beef by letting people know where it came from. I think this will increase the beef price for consumers here in the U.S., but I believe the public will feel better about buying beef that was produced locally, thus not having much effect on beef sales. Australia is in a major drought and that has forced the Japanese markets to transition to only selling U.S beef.  This has created a major demand for U.S. grown beef across Japan. Along with the increase in Japanese exported beef, the newest and possibly most exciting new market is China. The Chinese public is mostly made up of middle to high-class citizens; this means that most of the general public would have the means to afford American beef. One important demand that China has for importing American beef is that it must be labeled birthplace origin and slaughter origin. Now that Wyoming is transitioning to these types of labels, it is likely that a majority of Wyoming beef will be leaving the country and headed to be sold at foreign markets. The first shipment to China is predicted to be sent on July, 17th of this year.

While I was in Buffalo for the convention, hay season officially kicked off here on the E Bar U. An early and wet spring brought plenty of forage and should produce a good hay crop this year. It was vital to cut and bail the cool season grasses before they went dormant for the summer and lost all their nutritional value.

Tyler’s 1st Week at the Ladder Ranch

WSGA Rangeland Summer Intern Tyler Flatt has his hands full at the Ladder Ranch. Only one week into his summer job, he has been busy helping out with many different aspects of ranching. 

This week has been a very busy week. On Sunday, we had to get all of the hay out of the meadows so we could turn the irrigation on. Between 6 people it took all day to do that and even then, we did not get done with everything.

On Monday, I got put on a new project of putting a new roof on a ranch house. We got all of the old tin and tarpaper off of the house. Tuesday I helped with the sprinklers and the irrigation. After we turned the sprinklers on we noticed a lot needed to be worked on so we shut them off and fixed them. After this I spent the rest of the day walking the stream and clearing out debris and blockage. Wednesday and Thursday were both spent on the roof. Between the two days we got all of the new tarpaper on and ready for the new tin.

On Friday, I spent the morning fixing fences so we could put cattle in them and in the afternoon, we started putting tin on the ranch house. Saturday, we had a big branding party.  We gathered around 350 cow/calf pairs and sorted them by lunch. After lunch we started branding. It was fun for a while but then everyone started getting tired and we had to push through to get the others done. In the end I believe we branded about 320 calves. That was a hard day. Overall, it was another great week at the Ladder Ranch and I look forward to what next week has to offer.

Tyler Pic Week 1-1

Jedidiah’s 2nd Week: Adventures in Irrigation, Herding and Roping

This week we continued to irrigate with the side rolls and pivots. We shut one pasture off completely so that it could dry for swathing. The grass has kept growing and has reached 4 foot high in some places. On Thursday evening, the new pivot shut down and we were unable to get it started again until the next morning. It was very puzzling, but we think that the pump was shut down because it got too hot (a combination of heat from operating and the ambient air temperature). We installed some 6” pipe to replace an old 4” line that fed a section of gated pipe in one of the pastures. I had never worked with gated pipe prior to this, so it was a learning experience. I learned how to install new gates and also how to repair the pipe itself.

The highlight of the week had to be the amount of time that I spent in the saddle. I got to help teach the neighbors about the practice of herding cattle on horseback. We only moved two bulls, but it was a good beginning session. I took a ride on one of the horses here on the ranch that needed some work. He had not been rode much and needed a good workout. I gave him the workout, and I got one too! Later that day, I worked with a cowboy friend of the Perry’s to identify and cut out heavy cows in a herd. In the process, he gave me a few pointers about moving cattle, especially when herding one animal at a time. I also got the opportunity to rope calves at the branding on Friday. We did about 39 head, using horses and nordforks. I had never been around nordforks, so it was good for me to see what they were like. I personally think that wrestling the calves is better because there is no equipment on the ground for the horses to get tangled up in and the riders can go try for another calf in the pen instead of waiting until the calf is branded. It was the first time that I had roped off a horse, and I didn’t do very well! But I did get a better idea about how to throw a heel loop and what to look for when taking a shot at a calf. I am very hopeful that I can improve my roping skills over the summer.

I have also kept busy doing some mechanic work and fencing around the ranch. The days are growing warmer and the hay is practically begging to be cut!

Week 2 for Andrew Mainini-Bulls & Branding at the E Bar U Ranch

It was another full week here at the E BAR U Ranch, from turning out bulls to finishing up branding. The decision of when and what bulls get turned out to the cows can make or break an operation. Bulls are turned out in a certain manner so that the operation will be calving during their desired window, as well as staggering the heifers and cows so they are not all calving at the same time. Along with when bulls are turned out, it is very important to determine which bulls get turned out.  This is determined by referencing the EPD’s (Expected Progeny Difference) of the individual bulls so that they fit the goals of the operation. EPD’s are scored off of a base number, for example a bull with a lower birth weight EPD such as a .3 means they would make a good bull to put on heifers because their expected birth weight would be .3 pounds higher then the base calf weight at birth. Contrast that to a bull with a 6 birth weight EPD he would make a better cow bull because he is expected to produce calves that weigh 6 pounds above the base calving weight. Along with birth weight, EPD’s consist of other factors that include weaning weight, yearling weight, milk and many more.

As summer quickly approaches we are just wrapping up our tail end of the branding season. Here at the E BAR U heifers get branded differently than steers, also steers get an ear tag while heifers do not.  The reasoning for this is better and easier identification of sale animals and easier marketing of cattle. The heifers receive the brand of a cow because that allows for the replacement heifers to be chosen and kept without adding another brand. One other very interesting thing about the E BAR U is that bull calves are banded at birth so they do not have to be castrated during branding. This has proven to save time as well decrease stress on the bull calves. Andrew Pic Week 2-2

Rangeland Interns-Perry Cattle Company is Keeping Jedidiah Hewlett Busy

Jedidiah Hewlett is learning the tricks of the trade at the Perry Cattle Company. He’s only one week in, but has taken away a great deal of information already, including doctoring calves, financial matters, and irrigation methods. Here’s all of the details of Jedidiah’s first week experiences. 

This week was full. We started up the new pivot on Monday and had to watch it pretty closely since it was the first time it had been run with water in it. The main concern was making sure that all the towers crossed the big ditch on the pipe bridges. One bridge ended up bending with the pivot on it, so we spent a few days manufacturing more uprights to strengthen the bridges. In the process, I got trained on how to use the plasma cutter and got pretty good at it. On Tuesday, we moved cows down the highway to another lease about 2 miles away. It was really fun to get back on a horse again since I hadn’t ridden for about a year and a half. One of the cows on the lease was pretty thin, so we brought her back and fostered her on to another cow who had lost a calf. We gave the cow rompun, or Xylazine, a sedative drug, to calm her down and put a powder called “Orphan-no-more” on the calf. The adoption worked and you would hardly know they weren’t a pair from day one! Mr. Perry and I went over their finances and I learned about gross margin analysis, financial statements, and cash flow.

Gross Margin Analysis is a quick and blunt way of comparing different options for running an operation. For example, running yearlings, running a “closed herd,” running temporary cows, running cows on shares, not running cows and selling hay, etc. Expenses are totaled for one option and compared to the income to be gained from that option. Set prices conservatively, this protects the operation if things go poorly.

The Financial Statement shows the total list of assets and the total list of liabilities. Assets include animals, land, machinery, vehicles, trailers, etc. Liabilities includes rent, loan payments, land payments, etc. These two numbers are compared at the end of the statement and the debt to asset ratio. When you divide your debt by your assets, this gives you a debt percentage. The lower your score, then the lower amount of your assets are financed by loans. The Perry’s took their ratio from 64% to 19% in 16 years. If you have a lower debt ratio, then banks are more likely to finance your venture.

Cash Flow is a large table that shows expenses and incomes for each month of the year for a variety of categories. Example: income from calf sales, hay sales, cattle sales, other. Expenses incurred by machinery, animals, cost of living, repairs, loan payments, etc.

I built two electric fences underneath the new pivot to divide the pasture up for grazing. I just set one wood post where it cornered in between the wheel tracks and put steel posts along it for the rest of the way. Other than that, I have been learning the ropes about moving and maintaining the side roll sprinklers. We got all four of them running last week, as well as the two pivots. I have gotten soaked twice while working on the sprinklers, so I have started wearing my raincoat and waders pretty much any time I need to do any irrigating. The grass and alfalfa is growing really good and we should be putting up the first cutting early this year; perhaps in the next two weeks!

Jed Picture 3
Pivot Irrigation on the Perry Ranch
Jed Picture 4
Moving cattle by the road

Rangeland Interns-Andrew Mainini’s First Week at the E Bar U Ranch

This week I began my summer internship at the E Bar U Ranch, which is part of the SR Cattle Company near Sheridan, Wyoming. My first week was full of different events such as branding, trailing and hauling cattle. Along with the work, I have begun to learn how the E bar U Ranch runs and operates. As well as learning about the ranch, I have also been introduced to some of the hardships that this ranch faces. Some of those being water distribution, leafy spurge invasion, and prairie dogs; all these things can lead to range degradation. The most important thing that I have learned this week is how the Kane family has overcome many of these problems and how that has made them one of the most productive operations in the area. I am looking forward to the spending the rest of my summer here at the E Bar U with the Kane’s.

Andrew Picture 2

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