In 1989, I started managing a semi-large commercial cattle operation for absentee owners. After acquiring the real estate in North Powder, Oregon, my job was to purchsae about 1,200 cows to start their new business adventure. The people we managed for didn't want to invest a lot of money to buy the best cows on the market, so we all agreed if we spent the money on the best bulls, we could build "the best cow herd money could buy."
One thing I have learned after 15 some years of buying good bulls is that a good bull will make an operation more money than anything else will on the ranch. So with strong Heterosis of crossbred Angus and Hereford genetics, we had a long journey of building a reputation cow herd.
In 2004, as our family grew, we felt the need to go back in business on our own. After a few moves and some real estate investment changes, we ended up on our ranch in Fort Rock, Oregon. Our youngest son, Jesse, and his family are partners with us at the ranch, while our oldest son, Kody, with his wife Joanne, their son Tyler, and daughter Megan, stayed in North Powder and formed M&H Ranch. They run about 450 commercial cows along with their haying operation.
I have a lot of friends ask why we settled in Fort Rock? My answer was good water, good soil, and good people, with lots of open spaces. With a good hay base and summer feed on several thousand acres, it had the potential of being a good fit
Fort Rock is located in the High Desert of South Central Oregon at about 4,200 feet elevation, with temperatures that can drop in the winter to -30 below. We get about 6 to 8 inches annual rainfall, so I guess the beauty of the desert is you never know when you're in a drought. Although the desert has its beauty, the animals that are raised here are climatized for the harsh conditions. When we purchased bulls, we had to watch for bulls that fit our weather conditions. We also paid close attention that they were raised in somewhat of a large environment, so when it came time for breeding season and turn out, they didn't look across the desert and walk to the first water tank and lay down. So we feel the bulls we raise in Fort Rock should be able to work anywhere and in any climate.
Another criteria, and is almost first and foremost in my book, is a bull's feet and legs. No matter how good his numbers are, they have to be sound. Until I had the opportunity to be on sifting committees at different consignment sales, I realized how little I knew about soundness, but after serveral years of working next to some of the best commercial cattlemen in the Western United States, I feel confident I can tell what makes a bull sound or not.
A bull needs agood balance on their EPDs, with moderate birth weights, lots of growth, deep-ribbed easy fleshing, and athletic ability so as to travel long distances and his condition to hold up until he comes home. I also pay real close attention to their disposition, wild cattle are not only hard on themselves, but other cattle, people, and equipment. I feel bulls can have agood dispositions and still not be "dead heads" to cover lots of country and get their job done.
Like most all breeders, we guarantee all bulls through the first breeding season. We will also offer free feed until you turn out on or before April 1st. That was one of the things that were hard for us as a bull buyer, to bring the bulls to the ranch and keep them when we didn't turn out until May.
Culling is a very important part of our management criteria for all the things I mentioned before, whether it's in our cowherd or bulls. Our goal is to have the highest quality possible.
We are excited about introducing a sound A.I. program to our cowherd, so we can take advantage of Proven Sires throughout the United States. This breeding season, we will be using Churchill Rancher 592R, and Churchill Sensation 028X, as well as maximizing all the potential of our own 8050 Son HH Advance 1003Y. His calf crop looks really good with lots of consistency to his own traits.
Last, but not least, is our honesty; we take pride in the sale of every one of our animals (or truck load of hay) and will be backed by our personal guarantee and integrity.
Again, thank you for this opportunity to tell our story and we hope we can be of service to your bull or hay needs in the future.