Beef/Cattle Extension Program
Producer Profile: Cayuse Livestock Company
by Marc King, Extension Agent
of all we need to communicate amongst ourselves
and with those policy makers that can help shape
our industry and keep us viable."
Cayuse Livestock Company is a true working family
ranch. The ranch is based at the foot of the Crazy Mountains
in Melville about 20 miles North of Big Timber.
Cayuse Livestock Company was founded in 1910 by Bill
Donald’s grandfather. The ranch is currently owned
and operated by Bill and Betsy Donald and Paul and Eleanor
Hawks. Both families have two children, who also work
and raise their families on the ranch. The ranch has
grown over the past couple of years to help accommodate
the additional families, but this has been a continual
step toward reaching the goals of the ranch.
All the family members are involved in the daily activities
of the ranch and they all developed the ranch’s
mission statement. Cayuse Livestock Company’s
Mission Statement reads,
“Provide a successful, nurturing, multi-generational,
family ranch by raising high quality Angus cattle,
using sustainable resource stewardship. This requires
integrity, a strong communicative team that fosters
innovative leadership. As a model ranch we will be
an asset to our community and educate others by sharing
our unique lifestyle.”
The ranch strives daily to uphold this ambitious mission
statement. Part of their commitment to the ranching
industry shows in the fact that Bill has served in several
leadership roles within the Montana Stockgrowers,
and this past December was elected as the President
of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.
Currently the ranch runs 850 cows on the Melville Ranch
and 800 head on several leases in the Cody, Wyoming
area. The cow herd is a commercial Black Angus herd.
Cattle are individually identified on the ranch with
panel and electronic tags. Calves are marketed in a
variety of ways according to Bill. In the recent past,
calves have been weaned and back grounded, weaned and
grazed as yearlings and the ranch has retained ownership.
“This past fall, steers were sold off the cow,
because the prices were good and the drought was taking
its toll on the resources,” said Bill.
During a recent interview with Bill, I asked several
questions pertaining to his outlook and philosophy on
the beef industry. Asked how he became involved with
the Montana Stockgrowers Association and how he rose
to the leadership role that he now fills, he replied,
“I got involved with the MSGA on issues that directly
impacted our ranch, plus I realized early on that the
MSGA held highly esteemed political clout within the
State of Montana and on the National Level. Further,
I have always felt that you need to give back to the
industry that you make your living from.”
Mr. Donald summed up the biggest challenges facing
the beef industry on a regional level as the drought.
On the state and national level, he said the biggest
challenge is the differing visions and pathways of groups
to achieve their vision of the industry. This divisiveness
makes creating and implementing policy very difficult,
according to Bill.
When asked about these differing views and visions
of what the beef industry should look like, Bill replied,
“Everyone wants to maintain the viability and
integrity of the family ranch. Thus those of us in leadership
roles must help provide education to these operations.
We need to keep producers informed of innovative marketing
strategies, help producers keep up with evolving technology,
and most of all we need to communicate amongst ourselves
and with those policy makers that can help shape our
industry and keep us viable.”
About the divisive nature of groups currently working
within the beef industry, Bill responded that all of
the groups must communicate and keep the discussions
civil and based on the issues.
“Too often we let emotion take over, and this
often leads to poor decisions. We will probably never
be one big happy family, but we must learn to work together.
Teamwork can help us achieve more that any one person
can standing alone.”
Questions & Answers is a joint project between
MSU Extension and the Montana Beef Council. This column
informs producers about current consumer education,
promotion and research projects funded through the
$1 per head checkoff. For more information, contact
the Montana Beef Council at (406) 442-5111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org