Cattle

Sustainable breeding

  • We raise small size cattle with mature cow weights at 1150-1200 pounds. These small cows are what were raised 40-50 years ago before very selective breeding created the modern monster 1,500 pound cows. Monster cows are more profitable to raise, but they won’t climb hills to eat, they eat up to 30 percent more per cow and convert it less efficiently, they are very hard on riparian areas due to their large weight on the same sized feet, and they live a 2-3 year shorter life using up more resources.
  • Our cows come from genetic stocks that were developed to grow, mature and fatten on native grasses, clovers and wildflowers – not grains, alfalfas or single plant species that take a large carbon footprint to grow, including artificial irrigation and fertilization.
  • Our cattle roam every day in large, beautiful fields with abundant natural water, and after their first baby (when we watch them in the barn in case they need help), they have the rest of their calves naturally in the meadows and hills unbothered by people or predators (we still check on them every few hours). All our stock caregivers (cowboys and girls) are trained in gentle handling techniques and our corrals and fences are designed to help us care for the cattle without them being injured or scared. In fact, starting as little calves, our cattle are trained to come to a whistle and most of the time one cowboy with a whistle and a trained (L.A.D.) livestock assistance dog (trained not to bite) – can move cattle from one field to the next by themselves in just a few minutes.

Sustainable feeding and care

  • During the winter, our cattle eat the same diet as in the summer, only we have preserved (dried and baled) it as hay and stored all of it in barns so it stays as wholesome as the day it was cut, and they get all they want every day.
  • The livestock is provided naturally warmed water (58 degrees) instead of creek water at 32 degrees to encourage them to eat and drink all they can. This difference in temperature saves them from having to eat more to generate enough heat to warm the water. With clean water and the right food, their rumen microbes produce their own onboard furnace that warms them in the winter!
  • Just like wild natural cattle (except for our first time moms), our cattle are not kept in barns in the winter. Crowding in barns is unnatural and can cause all sorts of foot diseases (from the concentrated manure) and lung diseases like pneumonia from being too close together. Natural and artificial wind breaks of trees, shrubs, dirt banks and hills (and sometimes plowed snow banks) provide our cattle all the protection they need in the winter, and we actually feed them more hay from different predominant kinds of grasses on really cold days so their personal rumen “furnaces” can crank out more heat. And we feed them twice a day (instead of once a day like most ranches) to keep fuel in their furnace!
  • When on pasture, our livestock are protected from predators by PALs (Protect All Livestock) dogs. These specially bred and trained dogs (most Great Pyrenees) live with the livestock, and while friendly to people, livestock and other dogs, their very presence causes most predators to leave the area. Rarely, when a predator does attack the livestock, the PALs defend the livestock.
  • Corrals and livestock handling facilities are all designed to be used with gentle and safe (for both livestock and humans) handling techniques. Prods are never used on Silvies Valley Ranch unless necessary as a last resort to keep individual animals from being trampled by others. Our primary working facilities are made of planks and situated so that the cattle can’t see out and be scared by the activities outside the corral. We have invested in scales and state of the art hydraulic chutes so that there is less chance of injury and that the cattle and goats are handled efficiently and safely. Most pasture gates are made with overheads so that they can be left open most of the time and the wildlife – especially the large elk herds that call the ranch home eight months of the year – quickly learn to go to the high gates to move around the ranch. This is safer for them (elk caves often have a hard time jumping the fences) and better for the ranch because less fence repairs are needed, saving resources to be used more efficiently elsewhere.
Goats

Sustainable breeding

  • We are raising a Boer/cross goat – “The American Range Goat” - these goats have been developed over hundreds of years to thrive in arid, brushy areas with cold winters such as ours.
  • We select for the healthiest goats and only use healthy, disease free, friendly goats with good confirmation in our breeding program.
  • Instead of breeding Does twice a year as many do (and is more profitable), we choose to breed only once a year so that our Does can fully recover between pregnancies, raise two healthy Kids per year, and live a longer, healthier life.
  • The Boer goats we raise are large, hardy breed with mature weights of up to 300 pounds.
  • Our goats come from genetic stocks that were developed to grow, mature and fatten on native shrubs, trees and weeds – not grains, alfalfas or single plant species that take a large carbon footprint including artificial irrigation and fertilization to grow.
  • Our goats roam every day in large, beautiful fields with abundant natural water, and they have sets of twins every year (in the barn where they have heated floors and very clean, safe conditions). All our goat herders and caregivers (our head herder is “imported” from Peru where he grew up herding goats) are trained in gentle handling techniques and our pens and fences are designed to help us care for the goats without them being injured or scared. In fact, starting as young kids, our goats are trained to come to a whistle and most of the time one herder with a whistle and a trained (L.A.D.) livestock assistance dog (trained not to bite) – can move goats from one field to the next by themselves in just a few minutes.

Sustainable feeding and care

  • During the winter, our goats eat a slightly different diet than in the spring, summer and fall –we have preserved (dried and baled) the various grasses as hay and stored all of it in barns so it stays as wholesome as the day it was cut, and they get all they want every day. In addition, we also provide cuttings of shrubs and trees for them to munch on every day – and rocks to climb on for fun!
  • The goats are provided naturally warmed water (60 degrees) instead of creek water at 32+ degrees to encourage them to eat and drink all they can. When they do, their rumen microbes produce their own onboard furnace that warms them in the winter!
  • So that they can raise healthy babies, our goats are kept in barns in the winter. Crowding in barns is unnatural and can cause all sorts of foot diseases (from the concentrated manure) and lung diseases like pneumonia from being too close together, but our barns are all designed to avoid these issues. The barns keep them dry and out of the wind, but are very light and have great air circulation and drainage, providing our goats all the protection they need in the winter.
  • When on pasture, our goats are protected from predators by PALs (Protect All Livestock) dogs. These specially bred and trained dogs (most Great Pyrenees) live with the goats, and while friendly to people, livestock and other dogs, their very presence causes most predators to leave the area. Rarely, when a predator does attach the livestock, the PALs defend the goats and other livestock.
  • Corrals and livestock handling facilities are all designed to be used with gentle and safe (for both livestock and humans) handling techniques. Prods are never used with goats on Silvies Valley Ranch. Our primary working facilities are made of metal so that the goats can see out and won’t be scared by the activities outside the corral (very different from cattle). We have invested in scales and state of the art chutes so that there is less chance of injury and that the goats are handled efficiently and safely.
  • Our paddocks where the goats are kept in the winter have large rocks piled in them for the goats to climb and play on – keeping them mentally as well as physically healthy!