Skinner Ranch named Commercial Producer of the Year

News
Feb 8, 2013
by WLJ
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Skinner Ranch of Jordan Valley, OR, received the Commercial Producer of the Year Award from the Red Angus Association of America at the Red Angus National Convention in Reno, NV, Nov. 1-2. Larry Lorenzen of Pendelton, OR, presented the award to the Skinner family, Bob and Karen, son Silas and wife Tracy, and son Mike and wife Kelsi.

Skinner Ranch is a production cow/calf outfit that runs on the High Desert of southeastern Oregon. Sixteen years ago, they began using Red Angus bulls on their Hereford cows to increase calving ease and maternal qualities. They were so pleased with the calves that they phased Red Angus in to their entire operation and have used Red Angus bulls exclusively for the past 13 years.

Skinners calve on several thousand acres of lava beds that are inaccessible with a vehicle. “The ground is rough with a lot of sage brush, so there are many hiding places that we just can’t see when riding through the pasture,” said Bob Skinner. Skinners routinely fly the pasture with their plane during calving, especially if the weather turns cold. “We can see if a cow is having trouble or find chilled calves right after daylight when we fly,” said Skinner.

But calving troubles are few and far between at the Skinner Ranch. “We have bred out calving difficulties by buying bulls with the right EPDs, genetics and phenotype,” said Skinner. Sons Silas and Mike are now responsible for bull selection and apply their own scientific formula to screen through the data before visually appraising bulls and making their purchases.

Their genetic selections encompass more than just calving ease and maternal traits, however. “In the past, we sold our calves as yearlings,” said Skinner, “but with the genetics we have incorporated into our cowherd, we are now selling calves at the same weight as our yearlings were, but we are moving them out sooner.” Their steer calves are in high demand with buyers when their lots come on the screen at Superior Livestock’s Video Royale sale in Winnemucca, NV.

“The Skinner family has a reputation for topping the market every year with their Red Angus steers,” said Lorenzen. “The bidding goes wild when their calves come on the screen, they’re that good!” They also have a solid private treaty market for their heifer calves. “Our Grid Master Awards have helped sell our heifers, too,” said Skinner. “Our heifer buyers realize that high grading percentages come from genetics, and they want to incorporate that into their cowherd.”

The Skinner Ranch holds the record for ranch-of-origin Grid Master Awards, an honor earned by raising and feeding Red Angus cattle that meet and exceed strict carcass quality criteria. They have earned 11 awards from cattle harvested at Cargill, Meyer Natural Angus, Painted Hills and Tyson plants.

Bob Skinner’s involvement in the industry goes beyond their ranch’s fences. He served as president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) from 2000 to 2002. He continues to serve as chairman of OCA’s Public Lands Committee and as Oregon’s director of the Public Lands Council.

Wildfires claimed 1.4 million acres in southeastern Oregon and displaced thousands of cattle this past summer. Skinner is currently working with local permittees, Bureau of Land Management, politicians and OCA to ensure producers who suffered losses are able to get back on their grazing permits as soon as resources will allow. “No one wants to do anything that will harm the natural resources and environment since it is vital to the existence of these ranches,” said Skinner, “but we need to ensure that producers are able to return as soon as possible.” — WLJ

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