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Ranch camp offers hands-on management

Cattle and Beef Industry News
Apr 21, 2017

— CS Cattle Company to host 2017 New Mexico Youth Ranch Camp

Nick Ashcroft talked forage with NMYRC kids last year.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico State University.

Is there any better way to learn than by doing? Youth interested in ranching might rightly answer “outside” at a summer camp in the “Land of Enchantment.”

The New Mexico Youth Ranch Camp (NMYRC) is a “one-of-a-kind hands-on” learning event held on the historic working ranch, the CS Ranch in northeastern New Mexico. There, participants experience a week of college-level, hands-on curriculum that provides information regarding most of the 12 sciences involved in ranch management, including quality beef production, financial statements, marketing strategies, natural resources, wildlife management and others.

The goal at the end of the week-long camp? Develop a ranch management plan for a scenario similar to the host ranch. Meeting peers and members of the ranching community plus the opportunity to visit one of New Mexico’s most beautiful and diverse ranches are extra perks.

“As the concept for this progressed, I recognized that a good model for this program’s objectives was the curriculum utilized by the [Texas Christian University] Ranch Management School …A ‘mini ranch management class’ you could say,” said Texas’ Swenson Land & Cattle Company’s General Manager, Dennis Braden.

Braden is one of the guest speakers at the camp and has been instrumental in seeing this program come to fruition—a collaboration between New Mexico’s Extension specialists, County Extension agents plus members of the ranching industry—since its inception.

“I felt the same level formatting would most benefit the agricultural youth in New Mexico. Ranch Camp introduces students to important sciences insuring successful and profitable ranching operations,” he added.

“It’s such a great gathering that, although my management plan presentations relative to economics are only the one day, I hang around the entire week! There’s lots of information being shared and wonderful folks to visit with.”

Camp details

New Mexico youth ages 15-19 have until the May 5 deadline to apply for NMYRC. Visit http:// nmyrm.nmsu.edu for more information. The event takes place June 11-16 at the CS Ranch. Thirty students will be selected to visit this 130,000-acre historic working ranch that has been owned and operated by the same family for almost 150 years. The CS Cattle Company ranches and hunts their mountain country as well as the grass plains near Cimarron. Their extraordinary headquarters at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains provides outdoor “lecture, lab and field trips.” The ranch hosted the sixth annual event last summer as well.

Camp participants are afforded excellent instruction throughout the week provided by the Extension coordinators plus the ranching and agricultural education guest instructors. The CS Ranch offers the added benefit of three generations of the Davis family contributing their knowledge and experience with cattle and horse production, hunting enterprises and natural resource management.

The 2017 NMYRC week will shape up like this:

• Day I: All things beef—Today’s consumers want to know where their beef comes from and Monday’s session begins with the end product. Participants start by breaking down a complete beef carcass into industry standard cuts. This meat will be used on the menu throughout the week. Instruction on nutrition, genetics and reproduction will follow, as well as participants getting the chance to palpate live animals, carcasses and structures including musculoskeletal, reproductive and digestive anatomy. Proper handling techniques that lower stress and improve animal health are demonstrated then practiced by camp participants who receive the extra bonus of Beef Quality Assurance certification.

• Day II: Marketing & economics—Marketing day is payday for ranch operations. Helpful financial tips insofar as ranch management, livestock marketing and natural resources will be covered. Participants get the opportunity to mimic the auction processes as observers, potential buyers and sellers. Participants will also be guided through the establishment of economic baselines plus development of cow/calf operations relative to owners’ objectives. Presenters guide discussions on ranch budgets, goal setting and planning and managing for profit. Niche and conventional markets are part of Tuesday’s program and students gain insight about strategies, marketing tools and customer catering. Direct sales of products will also be addressed.

• Day III: Natural resources—Wednesday’s curriculum includes fundamentals of natural resource and wildlife population management, ecology estimates, woodlands, riparian areas, predator control, prescribed fires, wood products utilization and riparian area management. A variety of instructors will provide scientific and practicing knowledge regarding these topics including discussion of income from natural resources found on ranches. CS Hunting will share information about establishment of outfitting and guiding programs and the development of comprehensive ranch plans that diversify revenues in a sustainable and profitable manner through incorporating natural resources-based enterprises.

• Day IV: Range—Without grass there would be no weight gain or growth of livestock to be sold. Management and harvest of grass for sustained production and profit will be the theme for Range Day. On the agenda will be plant identification, brush and weed control, basics of rangeland management, ranch planning and rangeland monitoring. Instructors will provide the fundamental tools and understanding to incorporate range management into ranch planning. Specific topics include species composition, ecological function, drought, grazing, fire and species grazing interactions and how these factors interact and affect rangelands. Horses, as they relate to working cattle and forage production, will also be a focus.

• Day V: Ranch plans— The final day of instruction concludes with teams finalizing their ranch management plans and preparation for final presentations. Awards are distributed while ranching industry guests add to the camaraderie and newfound friendships. Everyone is treated to a premiere lunch: steak, of course.

So, future participants: Envision an outdoor classroom shaded by huge cottonwood and elm trees, bordered by native grassland, hay fields and the Cimarron River within a stone’s throw. Also picture this outdoor classroom located east of the Rocky Mountains that is laden with hands-on instruction on pursuing your future in ranching, peer and rancher camaraderie, three awesome home-cooked squares a day taking place at a beautiful historic New Mexico ranch.

What’s not to love? — Ginger Elliott, WLJ Correspondent

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