Big Dry Angus Ranch is a family owned and operated Registered Angus Ranch, located on the banks of the Big Dry Creek, east of Jordan, MT. It seems only natural that Angus cattle be the breed of choice for a family whose roots began in Scotland.
John “Jack” McRae arrived in America aboard the S.S. Baltic on April 18th, 1909 at the age of 22. On August 6, 1921, Jack and Mary Kerr were married, with their first born, Charles arriving July 20, 1922. 7 additional children were born to the couple, including a second pair of twins born in early September 1940, prior to Jack’s death on August 15, 1941.
Charles, who had been actively involved in the family sheep operation, assumed greater responsibilities, not only as ranch manager, but also the father-figure for his younger brothers and sisters.
Charles and Hazel Schultz were married December 1, 1946. Sheep, Hereford cattle and horses utilized the range of what would become Big Dry Angus Ranch. 3 sons were born to Charlie and Hazel. Jack, with his wife Kathy, are actively involved in the ranch and oversee the sheep, including a band of Registered Targhee that are marketed under McRae Brothers Targhee. Bill, who lives in Portland Oregon, and Brent, with his wife Hillari and sons, oversee the Registered Angus.
In 1963, Charles McRae purchased a group of Registered bred heifers and heifer calves from Harry Ross of Ross Ranch and Livestock, trailing them to the Big Dry. Angus cattle shared the native prairie grass and brush pastures with Targhee sheep and a small Quarter Horse herd.
Angus cattle were introduced with the cow in mind, not only for their fertility, hardiness, efficiency and natural maternal traits, but also for their resistance of eye and udder problems Hereford cattle were prone to.
Early sires used were bred by Shipp Angus, Saco, MT; Sitz Angus, Harrison, MT; Vermilion Ranch, Billings, MT; Knudsen Angus, Bainville, MT; Green Valley Angus, Hobson, MT and Gartner and Denowh, Sidney MT.
On November 18, 1969, Charles, recognizing the importance of performance, enrolled the cowherd with Montana Beef Production Association, Bozeman, MT, where 205-day weights and yearling weights were calculated and an Individual Performance Record (IPR) was given to each calf. When AHIR began, these records were assimilated into the Angus database.
Bulls were sold, on the ranch, private treaty, to neighbors and commercial producers across eastern Montana and Western South Dakota who respected the hardiness, structural correctness and performance traits of Dad’s program. Buyers also appreciated Dad’s motto, “the way to have good bulls for sale is to carry a sharp knife and use it”. A practice we maintain today.
April 20th, 1989 marked the 1st Production bull sale for us. Dad made the decision to move away from private treaty, as more and more repeat customers asked to be first on the call list when bulls came off performance testing. The livestock market in Glasgow, MT was Dad’s choice to hold the sale. The day, though clear in Glasgow, featured blizzard conditions south in the Big Dry country. Only a few braved the 90+ miles to get to Glasgow, however ranchers from northeast Montana were in attendance and the day was successful in merchandising all the bulls offered.
We continue having our sale at Glasgow Stockyards Inc., Glasgow, MT as our corrals and facilities are full of Jack and Kathy’s, McRae Brothers Targhee registered ewes lambing.
In the spring of 1975, Charles’s son, Brent attended a Curtiss Breeding Service a.i. school, opening the cowherd to bulls from across America. Many of these A.I. sires from across America, though outstanding in their individual performance and their promotion, did not replicate or withstand the low management, arid environment and rigors of the Big Dry, though the few that did, had a positive impact on the herd and for our customers. One such AI sire that positively impacted our herd was Shoshone Viking GD60.
Shoshone Viking GD60 bred to a daughter of Green Valley Bonanza 2 (who incidentally was the first cow Brent a.i.’ed 3 years previous) resulted in Big Dry Lass Viking 9335.
Big Dry Lass Viking 9335 was in turn, a.i.’ed to Baldridge Oscar, resulting in Big Dry Oscarlin Lass 4214.
4214 was a.i.’ed to a young sire from Nebraska by the name of TC Stockman. The bull calf born April 6, 1991, was a standout calf from birth that Dad promptly named…
The decision to retain Ranchers Choice had been made, however, Steve Harmon, Harmon Angus Ranch, Lavina, MT, while traveling with a neighbor who was looking at our bulls, spotted him in our 300-acre bull development pasture and purchased ½ interest.
After Ranchers Choice bred cows on the Big Dry as a yearling, with Steve and JoAnn Harmon’s oversight and care, Ranchers Choice was exhibited at the 1994 National Western Stock Show, garnering Grand Champion honors.
Ranchers Choice was the product of 7 generations of Big Dry selection and breeding and is found in many of the present-day cowherds pedigrees.
Though exhibiting and winning the National Western Stock Show was tremendously exciting and a great honor, our primary focus in raising Angus seedstock has always been to supply quality genetics to the cow/calf producer.