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Beef/Cattle Extension Program

Producer Profile: Larsen Ranch Angus

By Janna Kincheloe, County Agent for Rosebud-Treasure County

"It’s important to try to make a name for yourself and build a solid reputation."

Larsen Ranch Angus, located several miles southwest of Rosebud, MT, is owned and operated by Jim and Carin Larsen, their son Tyler and his wife Tisha, and their daughter Wendy and her husband Lafe Warren. The ranch was established in 1917 by Jim’s grandfather, Hans Christian Larsen, and expanded by Hans’ sons, George, Neil and Chet, when he returned from World War II. Today, the ranch covers 20,000 acres, including 1,500 acres of dryland winter wheat and hay barley and 600 acres of irrigated hayground and continues to expand.

The Larsens run 250 registered and 550 commercial purebred Black Angus cows. The goal of the Larsen Ranch Angus program has always been to produce the ost efficient cow possible. They keep production information on all their cattle to help them make decisions. Says Jim, “We know what works and what doesn’t work on our ranch based on performance records.”

They began breeding registered cattle more than fifty years ago and have held an annual bull sale on the fourth Monday in every March since 1974. Bulls must meet stringent performance criteria and semen testing to be included in the sale. Steer calves are generally sold via video auction and delivered in the fall. Heifer calves that are not retained have been sold to the same buyer for the past 27 years. The Larsens feel that selling a majority of their cattle by the pound helps ensure that they are producing cattle that fit the consumers’ needs.

Wendy, who works for the Bureau of Land Management in Miles City, recently helped the ranch obtain low- and no-interest government loans to establish a pivot irrigation system. The Larsens use one pivot for intensive grazing on a pasture mix of meadow bromegrass, orchardgrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, alfalfa, alsike clover and Garrison foxtail.

They use two additional pivots to produce high quality alfalfa hay. Having an expanded hay base has allowed the Larsens to minimize winter feed costs. Cows are grazed on native range and fed alfalfa as a protein supplement. The remainder of the hay, approximately 1,200 tons, is sold to area producers.

Most of the management decisions for the ranch are based on the “cuss and discuss” method, according to Jim. “I have 40 years experience ranching in this area. I base most of my decisions on that experience.” Jim uses research data from scientists at UDSAARS at Fort Keogh in Miles City for information on range and grazing management. He says it is also helpful to have Tyler, Wendy and Lafe (all Montana State University graduates) around to provide information and different perspectives on issues.

When asked how the Larsen Ranch is different from others in the area, Jim answers without hesitation. “We have more versatility than most. With both irrigated and dryland crops, we can meet all of our own feed needs and still have an opportunity for an additional income source. Diversification is a must in today’s industry.” One of the main challenges the Larsens face is the increasing cost of maintaining an operation. “Every input costs more every day—fuel, fertilizer, insurance, taxes, and so on,” explained Jim. “It is also a challenge to keep a ranch in the family with ever-changing estate and inheritance laws. We have organized ourselves as a small chapter corporation in order to deal with some of those challenges.”

As far as challenges and opportunities in the livestock industry as a whole, competition and marketing issues top the list. “With world market issues determining supply and demand on a local level, it is difficult to determine what your strategy should be,” Jim says. “It’s important to try to make a name for yourself and build a solid reputation.”

Beef: 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

View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 08/14/2009
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