ArticlesLand Investor Features

Calving Season, Bull Selection Prove Cattle Industry Still King in Montana

By Kimberly Lowry, Broker Associate, Licensed in MT

Photos by Hailey Rae, Montana Ag Photography

Spring is in the air in Montana, and while newborn calves dot the landscape, producers across the state are already busy planning and preparing for the 2019 calving season.

With a gestation period of 283 days, give or take a few, planning for the following calving season often begins well before calving has been completed for the year. Bull selection is a critical component of the planning process to meet personal goals with a cowherd and to complement the genetics of the cattle on the ranch.

Recently, I had an opportunity to accompany a client and friend to the Leachman Angus Ranch bull sale in Toston, Montana, and assist in his selection of bulls to complement his cows. Montana bull sales always seem to offer high-quality options for buyers from across the state and across the nation, and the Leachman Angus Ranch bull sale did not disappoint.

After the sale, I had an opportunity to visit with Kurt Kangas, Regional Manager for the American Angus Association in Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. I first met Kurt several years ago when he was hired by a ranch client of mine to evaluate the range component of a ranch that my client was working to buy. With a degree from Montana State University in range management, I have found Kurt to be a straight shooter with an ear to the ground and much knowledge to share.

According to Kangas, who has attended a good majority of bull sales across the state this season, figures represent a notable increase in prices this year, with bulls up almost $450 and replacement-bred heifers nearly $250 higher per head than one year ago. As a real estate Broker specializing in working cattle ranches, I appreciate the enthusiasm in the cattle market, which in turn creates buyer demand for ranch properties in the West.

Agriculture is the number one industry in Montana, where there are 2.55 million head or 2 ½ times more head of cattle than people. With that in mind, it is no surprise that Montana ranchers take great pride in their cattle and strive to provide high-quality cattle to buyers both nationwide and internationally. In fact, cattle and calves are currently the number one commodity in Montana, followed by wheat and hay, respectively. These figures are representative of a state where agricultural roots run deep, and the landscape reflects the history of land use. Approximately 64% of Montana’s land area is dedicated to agriculture, including both ranches and farms. According to the Montana Wilderness Association, another 29% of land statewide is preserved for public enjoyment and use and includes US Forest Service, National Park, BLM, state and Fish, Wildlife, and Parks lands. Agricultural and public lands combined total 94% of the land across the state, making Montana a unique and desirable, and seemingly untouched landscape for people seeking a rural lifestyle in a location where you can enjoy life away from the big city.

As land Brokers at Fay Ranches Inc., we have a personal appreciation for the land and enjoy working with buyers and sellers of some of the finest agricultural properties throughout the West. Several Fay Ranches Inc. Brokers also raise livestock and have first-hand knowledge of the agricultural industry and serve as excellent resources for buyers searching for production properties. In addition, we can recommend a variety of excellent resources available for those new to the livestock industry who wish to own a ranch and begin a new adventure in agriculture. To learn more about farm and ranch properties for sale throughout Montana and the West, please contact a Fay Ranches Inc. Broker today.



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