During the open range era, Western ranches were vast. In the most arid lands, it could take 250 acres to provide grazing for one cow with a calf. The best range could support a cow on 12 acres. Cattle roamed freely across the immense, unfenced public lands. Cattlemen formed powerful associations to deal with common issues; roundups, disease, rustling, cost of shipping cattle, and marketing.

Ownership of these free-ranging animals was established through registered brands and roundups. Montana was divided into roundup districts. Each rancher in a district would send 10 - 12 cowboys to participate in the roundup. They all worked together. The spring roundup gathered and branded every rancher's cattle. Bull calves not selected for breeding were castrated. Some ranchers, including Kohrs, spayed heifers not considered good breeding animals. The fall roundup selected cattle for shipment to market and branded any strays that had been missed during the spring roundup.