Jensen’s Lucky Seven Angus Ranch
his Wyoming outfit began in 1895 when Jim Jensen’s great grandfather James Jensen came from Denmark and homesteaded near Boulder, Wyoming. “He had seven cows and three horses and lived in a dugout, and daily shoveled snow off the grass nearby, to keep them alive that first winter,” explains Jensen. From that meager beginning, his grandfather eventually owned much of the Boulder Valley. Two of James’ sons, Brant and Leo, stayed on the ranch and eventually split it. “Leo was my grandfather,” says Jensen. “My wife and I are now on Leo’s half. “In 1994 I went to Riverton to look at other ranches. Our homestead ranch is in Sublette County, often called the Nation’s Icebox. I wanted another ranch to augment this one. It doesn’t make sense to have to feed a cow 3 tons of hay in winter, where summer grass only grows a ton of hay to the acre. I looked at warmer climates where I could grow 4 tons of hay to the acre — and where we could winter cattle on just a ton of hay per cow,” says Jensen. He purchased 1,600 acres with 600 acres of farm ground. This enabled the family to go from a 300-head operation to 1,100 head, selling more than 250 bulls annually. “We kept our old place, leased more ground for summering the cattle and ran the new place as a winter operation and to grow feed. We no longer put up hay on the Boulder place.” They raise cows in 38,000-acre pastures at 10,000 feet elevation. “They must be hardy, so we began raising our own bulls. We soon turned the place into a registered Angus operation,” he says. “We don’t start feeding until early January and when we bring cows from Boulder to Riverton you can count their ribs,” he says. The ones that can breed and produce are the ones that stay in the program. “Now our cows are extremely efficient feed converters. We have completely revamped our feeding system; every animal gets a balanced ration in winter, using big feed mixers. The cattle are so efficient that in the coldest weather we feed cows about 20 pounds of dry matter (of which 6 or 7 pounds is straw). We show our ration to nutritionists and they say cows can’t be maintained on that. Our cows are not only 2010 Fall Marketing Edition
maintained on that in winter, but they’ll gain weight,” explains Jensen. “We knew we couldn’t sell yearling bulls in our kind of country; you can’t get them big enough to sell and to breed cows without pushing them too much. We sell yearling bulls out of first calf heifers. The heifers calve in January/February and we take good care of them. If a customer needs a heifer bull, it’s from a first calf heifer, bred to be a heifer bull,” he says. “If you need a cow bull, you can buy one of our 2-year-old bulls. This program allows us to raise cattle under more natural conditions, grow them up slower and they last longer. We’re trying to raise good cattle that can survive, and let the weaker ones fall out of the program,” explains Jensen. This enables him to guarantee his bulls. “I am a commercial person at heart, and feel the commercial rancher, who is struggling to survive, has been cheated year after
year by registered breeders who don’t know cattle but know how to market overfed bulls.” Those bulls look good at a sale, but break down or don’t last long in the breeding pasture. Jensen started a 4-year guarantee a couple years ago — guaranteed against anything that could go wrong with the bull himself. Jensens also PAP test their cattle, to assess risk for brisket disease. Jim says 6,800 feet is where it becomes an economic impact, and also this is the altitude where the test becomes a more accurate prediction. “A test at lower elevation will not predict which cattle can safely go to higher elevations. If you’re running cattle at 7,000 feet, you can buy bulls that have been tested at that elevation and eliminate the ones that failed their PAP test. Rather than buying bulls with a 75 percent chance of having continued on page 24
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