Blacktail Mountain Ranch is a summer grazing operation.
There is a BLM grazing lease allowing for upwards of 4,455 AUM’s, and a section of state lease land adding 225 AUM’s totaling 4,680 AUM’s generally beginning in May through November. These allotments are separated into ten pastures of varying size combining with portions of the deeded lands. A large tract of deeded lands extends north to south through the ranch holding, generally following Sage Creek into the higher elevations and are excluded from the grazing allotment acting as the “base property” for the leased lands maintaining it accordance with the federal regulations.
The ranch will typically ship 1,000 mother cows into the southern reaches of the ranch beginning in late May to early June. Of course, seasonal grasses are dependent on the weather conditions coming out of winter, so the start date will often vary. As the grasses progressively come on stronger into the higher elevations, the cattle are moved up chasing the oncoming grasses. By mid-October, the cattle are worked back down to the south end where the calves are weaned and shipped. Weather permitting, the bred cows will remain on the ranch through November working their way back north where they are trailed back to ranch headquarters on the north side of the range.
The range is in outstanding condition and the seasonal stress from weather provides that the forage is packed in protein. Relatively cool summer temperatures offer an ideal climate for the herd to reside in and with an abundance of water, the livestock make efficient use of the forage and do not have to travel far to drink. Pasture fences are well-maintained, and new fencing is applied where needed most annually. Typically, calves will gain 2½ to 2¾ pounds daily off the strong mountain pasture grasses.
There are roughly 120 acres of lands on the southwest end of the ranch that have historically been irrigated and still have tame grasses. A water right is associated with these lands and could be put to beneficial use on any given year. This is a simplified operation and has been under the sole oversight of a livestock manager who vastly operates the entire holding on his own. With little supplemental help, one cowboy with a strong work ethic, a truck and livestock trailer, a couple of good horses and an ATV attends to operations in a very low overhead manner.
It is possible that the stocking capacity might gain 20 percent or more if one were to add additional pasture fencing into the deeded lands and further develop the water resources to service them.