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Montana ranch wins stewardship award

Montana ranch wins stewardship award
Environmental Stewardship Award honors ranches practicing ecological and economic sustainability.


The Region V winner of the annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program (ESAP)is Cherry Creek Ranch of Terry, Montana, Lon and Vicki Reukauf family.

Beef Producer is featuring one of these operations each day for the coming week, recognizing their excellence.

Lon’s grandparents homesteaded near the ranch in the center of eastern Montana in 1910. Today the ranch is one of five on land that once held 200 homesteading families. Today the ranch covers nearly 25,000 acres including leased acreage of 15,500 acres.

The Reukauf’s herd consists of 700 Angus and Irish Black mother cows.

Lon and Vicki Reukauf of Terry, Montana, were honored for their stewardship in the annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program.

The Reukaufs say with silt soils, building root mass is critical to helping soils improve water-holding capacity. Lon has been a rotational grazer since 1983, and employs two-, three- and six-pasture rotation systems. Using a recovery-and-rotation system, Lon keeps a forage reserve for dry years.

He says longevity and fertility are the top goals for the cow herd, and that he doesn’t want high-production cows because they don’t fit the environment.

The family weans calves early — usually at 180 days of age, but as early as 100 days. Early weaning halves the daily forage demand, increases forage reserve and improves cow condition and conception rates.

Grazing management and stockpiled grass contribute to 95% of cows breeding back and calving in the first 30 days of the season.

The family built a series of dikes to catch water nutrient runoff from feeding areas. The dike system irrigates hay fields and decreases the need for purchased nitrogen fertilizer.

The family has fostered trees, especially willows, cottonwoods and buffaloberries to provide shelter and habitat on the prairie.

The ranch is home to healthy populations of antelope, white-tailed and mule deer, elk, sharp-tailed grouse, turkey, Hungarian partridge and numerous songbirds. The ranch is open to public hunting.

The Reukaufs were nominated by Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) was started by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in 1991. It recognizes cattle producers whose efforts benefit both the environment and the bottom line, reflecting true sustainability – ecological and economic.

It is administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and funded by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Any individual or group may nominate a cattle producer for the award. Winners are selected by a committee of from both within and outside the cattle industry. The selection committee chooses a regional winner from each of seven regions, then a national winner is named at NCBA’s annual convention each winter.

Nominations are due in March.

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