By: Rick Thomason,
UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director
A group of 40 producers and their families recently participated in the Upper East Tennessee Cattleman’s Tour to Montana during the week of July 4-9, 2016. The tour was organized by Rick Thomason, UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director. Also assisting with the tour was Chris Ramsey who serves as the Extension Director in Sullivan County. The group flew into Billings, MT on Monday, July 4th and spent the rest of the week touring many sites of interest.
On Tuesday, the group visited Genex Hawkeye West in Billings, MT where they learned about collecting bulls, evaluating, processing and storing semen to be used in artificial insemination. They also toured the barns and were able to see some of the top bulls in the industry. They then traveled to Vermilion Ranch in Billings, MT and toured their ranch looking at the cropping and irrigation systems and their outstanding herd of Angus cattle. From there the group traveled to Lewistown, MT to visit the Gateway Simmental Ranch where they were able to tour the ranch and see some of their top bulls and cow/calf herd.
Wednesday started off by meeting with Marko Manoukian, the Phillips County Extension Agent who took the group to the Bruce Hould Ranch. They specialize in custom developing bulls for producers in northern Montana. They also got to see his commercial cow/calf operation. Mr. Manoukian then took the group to Hinman Angus in Malta, MT and where they had a great discussion with Dave Hinman about their genetics program. Hinman Angus set the record for the top selling bull for the state of Montana during their spring sale this past April. Their Cowboy Up bull brought a sale price of $350,000.00. We then traveled to Chinook, MT to visit Bear Paw Livestock and Meats. Travis Buck and his family operate a weekly auction market and also finish cattle for their custom meat business. We finished the day with a steak dinner at the Beef-N-Bones Steakhouse where the group enjoyed a MT Fillet that was finished and processed by Bear Paw Meats. Cascade County Extension Agent, Rose Malisani, joined the group for dinner and shared information with the group about the beef cattle business in her area of the state.
On Thursday, the day started with a visit to the Grant Kohrs Ranch in Deer Park, MT. This historical ranch is a part of the National Park system and demonstrates how ranching life was back in the mid 1800’s. The ranch house is still on site along with the original furnishings and several other buildings used for the ranch hands and their livestock. They were having their annual branding demonstration on this day which proved to be very enjoyable for the entire group of participants. We then went to Sitz Angus in Harrison, MT where we were privileged to meet with the Sitz family and learn about their outstanding operation. Sitz Angus provides some of the top genetics in the Angus breed. We finished our day by visiting the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT.
Our final day on Friday was dedicated to visiting the upper loop of the Yellowstone National Park. We had a step on guide to board the bus and spend the day with us showing us some of the scenery and wildlife in the park. One of the highlights was a picnic by the Yellowstone River and a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs and Artist Point which has a large waterfall towering over 300 feet tall.
The group returned home on Saturday, July 9th. A great time was had by all and many new ideas were brought back home by the participants to improve the beef cattle operations on their farms.