Livestock at the Ranch

 
Herd of cattle eating hay.  Several calves in foreground.
After suffering severe losses during the Hard Winter of 1886-1887, cattlemen realized that feeding hay throughout the winter was critical. Today, ranchers offer even better nutrition through mineral supplements, which the calves are enjoying.

NPS Photo/Michael Oestriech

Cattle

Grant-Kohrs Ranch herd contains three of the main breeds of cattle that were on the Open Range: Shorthorn, Texas Longhorn and Hereford.

Cattle can be seen on the ranch year-round. It is important for the health of the herd and the pastures they graze, to rotate where the herd is kept. Depending on when you visit, you might catch the cattle being moved from one pasture to another, being vaccinated, sorted in the corrals or laying in the sun chewing their cud.

Newborn calves can be seen each spring, usually beginning near the end of April. The cows continue to calve throughout May and are kept in corrals, where they can be safely seen up close. Please respect the new mothers by keeping a safe distance, at least 3 feet back from the fence, and quietly observe. You can see the calves take center stage at the Branding event in early July.
 
Four horse hitch of drafts pulling a heavy wagon toward the camera.  View is about chest high, side of wagon can be seen to the right, rear of photo.
Large, powerful draft horses, such as this Belgian team in the lead and the Belgian/Percheron team in rear, made large construction possible for centuries.  They can pull this gravel dump wagon filled with nearly a ton of gravel.

NPS Photo/Michael Oestriech

Horses

Horses do important ranching work throughout the year. Saddle horses and draft horse each have specific jobs to do.

You may see one of the saddle horses, with their rider, moving the cattle, riding through the herd to make sure they are well or riding out to check the fences. Saddle horses, usually mustangs, made the Open Range Cattle Era possible. Imagine trying to round up a herd of wild Texas Longhorns and drive them hundreds of miles to market on foot.

The draft horses take care of the heavy lifting. These gentle giants are usually paired with a partner and work as a team. You might see them pulling haying equipment, experience their horsepower on the wagon tour or catch them being harnessed in the draft horse barn.
 
Group of several chickens pecking the grass.
Laying hens are known as pullets until they reach maturity.  Chickens are usually kept in a shelter, known as a coup, a night to protect them from predators.

NPS Photo/Ken Larson

Chickens

Chickens were commonly raised on ranches for eggs as well as meat.

You may see the chickens out in the run, soaking up some sun, pecking around for bugs, or digging a hole into the ground to giving themselves a nice dust bath. You might be able to eaves drop on some chicken conversation, since that clucking is how the chickens “talk” to each other.

Last updated: April 30, 2020

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Deer Lodge, MT 59722

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(406) 846-2070 x250

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