Herdhills

Commercial Cattle in Fort Benton, UT

The cattle at Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch now number 450 head of mother cows. Approximately one-half of these are registered Angus cows and the other half are commercial Angus cows. We feel strongly that producing seedstock helps one focus on individual traits and how they are blended together into a genetic package. We also must draw upon the practicality of the commercial operation to insure that the end product has soundness on its feet, quality on the rail, and economics in the pocketbook.

Whether we are talking about the registered operation or the commercial operation, the major goals are the same. We must preserve the environment, yet maintain an economic use of forage. Uniformity and balance have been key goals. All of the industry has more recently been concerned with the safety and quality of the beef that is produced.

Our breeding season is 60 days long. Most of the cattle are heat-synchronized and then artificially inseminated. This is true of both the registered and commercial cattle. The only cows not inseminated are those that calve toward the end of the previous calving season. After one round of artificial insemination, the bulls are turned out, in an effort to group the calving dates as much as possible. In the registered cattle, we attempt to balance each cow’s genetics with an appropriate bull’s genetics. In the commercial herd, we use one or two nationally recognized reference sires and one or two of our own herd sires as “test sires” so that the commercial herd services are a proving ground for the registered herd and vice versa.

Obgynbarn

The first calf heifers will calve January or February and the older cows in February and March. The calves are weaned at various times in October. The steer calves are preweaned, then weaned at the ranch, and then backgrounded there for approximately 45 days. A natural consequence of our breeding scheme is “retained ownership” of most of our feeders so we can obtain feed data and carcass data on an individual basis as each head goes through the packing plant. This incredibly valuable information is then used in the ensuing years to build upon the breeding program. Many of the sires of the bulls sold in the “In The Real World ” sale are also the sires of the steers that are sold at the packing plant. To complete the circle, the seedstock selection is then made on the basis of how these steers fared. We realize that the term “balance” not only relates to the various characteristics of a given animal, but also to the balance between raising seedstock and raising feeders and feds and balancing the needs and demands of all segments of the beef industry.

The heifer calves are managed in a different direction. Although they too undergo preweaning and weaning programs, they spend the majority of the fall and winter out on the range with supplements added. In the late winter, they are brought into the pens to give them a nutritional flush prior to the breeding season. Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch has approximately a 400 head bunk capacity.

Herd Sires Sales

The bull calves are again handled separately. A month prior to weaning, they receive their preweaning vaccinations with the second battery of vaccinations given at weaning. At this point, they are started on a weaner pellet for two weeks and then placed on a developing ration. Of course, free choice fresh Montana water and good quality grass hay is constantly available. Salt and mineral is also provided. These calves are grown in the “Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch Bull Development Center” at the ranch headquarters. These all-steel facilities provide approximately 1200 square feet of space per bull. These are long, narrow lots that require the bulls to walk uphill to feed, to walk downhill for hay, and to walk somewhere in the middle for bedding and water. The emphasis is on adequate exercise, feeding to allow development so that they “may display their potential but conditioned to pass it on !” The bulls are weighed monthly and are constantly culled so that by the end of the breeding program, only 60% of the best individuals remain. Along the way, we strive to maximize human interaction with the bulls to make them easier to handle.

Along with the bulls, approximately 25% of our best-registered heifers are sold through the “In The Real World” Sale. Commercial heifers and commercial bulls are sold at the ranch on a private treaty basis. We sell an ever-increasing amount of slaughtered beef; and of course culls are delivered to the local auction markets. We are constantly reminded that information is power. The computer age allows us to become more powerful all the time and that flexibility helps channel that power into decisions that help us and our customers. Contact us if you’re in the Fort Benton, Loma, Carter, or Highwood, MT areas. And check out our other divisions dedicated to registered Angus, bull development, farming operations, and more.