See how Montana beef farmers and ranchers are rethinking the ranch to raise sustainable beef through land-saving, wildlife-preserving, and award-winning environmental efforts.
Cherry Creek Ranch in Terry, Montana is one of the few remaining original homesteads in Eastern Montana. The ranch is owned by Lon and Vicki Reukauf who are the third generation to work on the ranch. This legacy drives the conservation and sustainability philosophy to keep the ranch strong for future generations to come. Part of keeping the ranch healthy includes a strong emphasis on rotational grazing as a way to manage grasslands and maintain soil quality. Lon instituted a system that rotates herds through multiple pastures to ensure grazing pressure is limited. This system has led to an increase in grass species diversity by improving the root depth and water holding capacity of the soil. Since this area only receives 12.5 inches of average annual rainfall, the grazing system allows for the soil to remain healthy and absorb as much water as it can. In addition to the rotational grazing, the Reunkaufs installed 15 solar wells in strategic locations to provide clean, fresh and consistent water for cattle to drink. These wells also allow the cattle to stay away from sensitive riparian areas leading to more biodiversity. Eager to share their passion of the land with others, Cherry Creek Ranch encourages public access to their lands for hunting, keeping the natural resources. Due to their dedication to sustainability, Cherry Creek Ranch was awarded the prestigious Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP).
"For three generations we wake up every morning and have great intentions to improve the land and the landscape for our cattle and always putting their needs ahead of our own." - Vicki Reukauf, Owner, Cherry Creek Ranch
Meet Montana rancher, Kiley Martinell. Kiley grew up on a ranch in Choteau, MT and her interests always tended to lean toward animals. She attended college at MSU-Bozeman, where she earned a degree in Animal Science and met her future husband Heath. After four years as a bovine embryologist, she and Heath decided it was time to move back to his family’s ranch in Dell. They currently work together with his parents, Allen and Yvonne Martinell, raising cattle. In addition to helping on the ranch, she works part time for as an embryologist and has stayed involved in the community by serving on the school board, the Lima swimming pool board, as a 4-H leader and on the Montana Beef Council Board. Kiley and Heath feel fortunate to raise their three children on a ranch in a rural community.
Raising beef is a complex process, but throughout the entire journey, one thing remains constant – the shared commitment to raising cattle in a safe, humane and environmentally sustainable way by using the latest technology and resources. Today, there are more than 2.5 million cattle and over 11,000 cattle farms and ranches in Montana. Learn more about Montana's beef farmers and ranchers who are raising beef from pasture to plate.
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Montana ranks second in the United States with farms and ranch land, totaling nearly 59.8 million acres.