The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Calf/Cow Farmer

Calf/Cow Farmer

From the Farmer's Tractor

August 29, 2010

Chalsey Kortes, 26, runs a calf/cow operation with her parents in south central Wyoming. Her Black Canyon Ranch has been in the Kortes family for over 90 years. On the ranch, mother cows heard calves every spring. Calves are then sold in the fall to a feeder to feed out their ideal processing weight.

How did you get into livestock farming?

I was born and raised on our ranch and grew up loving the ranch life and lifestyle. I was very fortunate and blessed to return home after college in 2004 to make ranching my life career.

How have your farming practices changed over the last 10 years?

Ranching and farming decisions are very dependent on the weather. We are currently moving out of a drought in Wyoming that has plagued our entire state.  During this drought we were faced with smaller hay crops and the necessity to decrease our herd size. Thankfully, we have been blessed with good moisture, larger hay crops, and the ability to increase our herd size again.

What is your greatest challenge as a livestock farmer?

In the west, one of the greatest challenges is keeping our livestock and property safe and secure from predators and other protected animals. Specifically in Wyoming, the wolf is a great problem. He is protected in our state and now in neighboring states. It is truly sad to know there is nothing you can do to keep your livestock from becoming the wolf’s next meal.

How does a farmer know what a retailer will want a year from now?

Year after year consumers demand and enjoy beef and beef products. Fellow producers and I love to supply them with the high quality beef that they enjoy as burgers at a picnic, grilled steaks watching the game, or as the slow cooked centerpiece to a family holiday meal.

What steps are you taking toward conservation on the farm?

My family has a 90-plus year history of protecting and loving the land. For example, we use flood irrigation to irrigate our meadows. Flood irrigation fills the water table, which in turn replenishes the creeks and keeps them running the entire year.

What kinds of reactions do you get from consumers when they meet you in person?

People are very interested in what we do and about our cattle. Ranching is my passion and I love to share my story with them and let them have a glimpse into our everyday activities.