Do you have a desire to help animals? Love animals, but can’t own your own? Want to make a difference in the world?
Consider sponsoring a cow! Times are tough in eastern Montana. We are trying to keep feed in front of our cows so they don’t have to be sold to slaughter like so many cattle in our region. We need help though. We raise nearly all of our cattle feed and pasture, but this year the drought and grasshoppers have devastated our feed supply. Please consider helping us keep them alive and living on our ranch.
We are dryland ranchers in eastern Montana experiencing a severe drought. We raise nearly 100% of the feed we give our livestock and horses – oats, barley, and hay. Droughts are not new to us. Our ranch was homesteaded in 1912 and we have come through many challenges including the Dirty Thirties and the drought and depression of the 80’s. 2017 was the most challenging our ranch has had to endure and we had to purchase all of our livestock feed plus ship cattle hundreds of miles away to be fed for the winter. We are still climbing out of that financial hole. Along with our livestock, our ranch supports an abundance of wildlife ranging from deer and antelope to upland game birds.
This drought is different from those in the past. No one alive has experienced a drought in the western United States this widespread. It encompasses most of the western states; meaning there is not a lush neighboring region from which to draw feed resources. Our pasture grasses did not grow and our hay did not grow. What grain did grow is being devoured by grasshoppers. The nearest hay is states away. Fuel and trucking rates along with hay demand make the price of hay at least triple that of a normal year. With an expected bitter long winter, suffering and death are predicted to be high for wildlife and livestock who do not receive adequate hay and mineral supplementation. We are doing our best to prepare for these needs.
Cattle producers routinely cull about 10% of their cows for old age, breeding failures, bad dispositions. That happens in the fall. This year producers are selling large percentages of their productive mother cows out of desperation.
Our cattle are hardy Salers/Angus breeding that makes them specially suited to live in the harsh winters and hot summers of our area. They are happy and do well living in large pastures with brushy creek bottoms for protection in extreme weather. Our cattle spend their summers grazing pastures. During our long winters (generally at least 6 months) we feed hay. Wildlife join the cattle in eating hay and crop residues in the winter months. If left to their own devices, livestock and livestock would have death loss/suffering in a normal winter. In a year of extreme drought when there is no vegetation to graze, ranchers are the lifeline to all living creatures on the land.
You may wonder why we don’t sell all of our animals as so many others are doing. We have decades of breeding for specific traits in our animals. These are pedigrees that make our animals as close to the ideal as we can get while making improvements every year. These are not animals we can ever buy again or find anywhere else in the future.
We have raised registered Quarter Horses for over 55 years and our ranch has raised horses since its inception in the early 1900s. Our breeding is recognized throughout the industry. Part of what makes our horses so desirable is that they are able to run at pasture year-round (just like mustangs and wild horses of the past!) This winter, due to low vegetation stands, we will be required to feed them hay.
How You Can Help
We don’t want to be like most in our region who are sending the herds they’ve developed over decades to the sales ring where they (cows) will go to slaughter. We are trying to support our livestock and wildlife in their natural environment. We can’t do this alone. We need financial support to buy hay and feed grains since it did not grow for us this year. Half of our cow herd is being shipped to South Dakota for the winter where we will pay someone else to feed and care for them. This is an incredible expense for our ranch. Our winters tend to be bitterly cold and last from November to April. It can snow as early as September and as late as June.
We care for our land and animals because we love them and we love what we do. The drought and pressures of this year have caused exceptional stress to ranchers, animals, wildlife, and the land. It is not possible for most to understand the trauma to all involved.
When you sponsor one cow at Mahlstedt Ranch, you are helping them all to get through this winter.
What You Receive
In addition to knowing you have really helped our cows, each sponsorship level will receive:
- Thank you email with the cow’s picture
- Donors only newsletter with ranch news (optional)
- 10% off one time coupon for our online ranch merchandise store when it opens
Higher levels include additional thank you items.
Sponsorship of a cow in no way entitles donor to have any say in the management of said cow. This is NOT a 501(c)3 charitable tax write-off. Donation is not tax deductible as money goes to multi-generation family operation that is struggling to survive and feed its animals. Donations are purely voluntary and various options are available for giving.