We are firm believers that excessive cowherd management is detrimental by masking inefficiencies and potential future problems for our customers. We let a “cow be a cow”. For over 60 years, the Big Dry cowherd has been selected, bred and culled to be trouble free. We prefer to be a problem solver not a troublemaker.
We truly believe in capitalist cows, ones that go out and earn their living and not wait for handouts. Our cows typically graze 12 months of the year, supplementing hay in the winter months.
Occasionally, we have to full feed for a period in the winter if snow get too deep and temperatures fall far below zero. It is not uncommon to experience 30 to 40 below zero, real temperature, with windchills lower. Shelter is provided by the coulees, draws and rough terrain the cows can access in a 5000-acre pasture. We meet the cows needs, but seldom their wants.
Calving is unpredictable in March and April, with Mother Nature as the midwife and sagebrush as the calving shed in a 5000-acre pasture, the Big Dry Angus cow are not only expected, but required to calve unassisted, get her calf licked off and nursed.
At birth, calves are tagged with their Dam’s # and weighed. In our large calving pasture, we use a side by side to check the calving cows.
The cows must have enough intelligence to distinguish between a human and a predator, and which one to go into protection mode. We do cull on poor disposition and lack of intelligence on cows and bulls.
Replacements are selected on a basis of phenotype, including structural correctness, disposition, within herd performance, body type, maternal lineage and dam’s udder structure.
Cows and calves graze the native pastures with breeding taking place in June on grass.
We synchronize and artificially inseminate all heifers and a large portion of the cowherd 1 time before putting in herd bulls.
Portable facilities allow us to a.i. and brand many of the calves in a low stress environment.
Their calves are not creep fed, and the cows must rebreed in a 50-day breeding period without supplementation while raising a good calf.
Calves are processed and vaccinated. Calf and herd health are of the upmost importance.
Calves are also parentage and Genomic tested to verify the mating’s. All home-raised females, beginning in 2012, that enter the herd have been parentage and genomic tested.
The majority of our calves are mating qualified, both sire and dam DNA verified, assuring our customers that our cattle are who we say they are. The Big Dry cowherd is enrolled in the American Angus Association Maternal Plus program.
Our pastures are large, from 1100 acres to in excess of 5000 acres.
Structurally sound cows, calves and herd bulls are required to find grazing away from the few water sources.
The Big Dry cowherd has been developed to match the resources of our ranch and environment. Our experience has been that extreme high performance genetics are not sustainable in our cowherd.
Our environment does not consistently raise the quality or quantity feed resources to benefit from extreme performance and fertility is reduced.