Turner Bison Exchange

Blue Creek Ranch

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Ranch Review - Blue Creek Ranch

Location – Nebraska Sandhills (Oshkosh NE)

Size – 84,000 acres

Cows Exposed – 1400

Cow: Bull Ratio – 12:1

Maximum bull age – 7yrs

Management Overview

Blue Creek Ranch consists of roughly 84,000 acres of Nebraska sandhills and mixed grass prairie in the western panhandle of Nebraska. The same as many of Turner Ranches, Ted purchased Blue Creek in 1999 through 2000 with bison production and land conservation in mind. As part of Turner Enterprises, our management goals focus on range and habitat conservation and restoration while improving and preserving habitat for native species. 

Breeding Herd: The breeding herd on Blue Creek Ranch is run year-round as a single herd grazing 12 months a year. The herd is managed with our annual grazing plan which consists of 18 different pastures that are from 1,000 to 5,500 acres. Low stress handle techniques are used when moving animals which allows us to handle them on foot in the corrals and by ATV in the pasture. This herd does not receive any supplementation other than salt and mineral year-round with protein cake fed for three weeks during the fall during the annual corral works.  Because of this, all our animals are cake broke and will follow a cake truck. During processing, bison receive a shot for Mycoplasma and may be wormed depending on the results of our fall fecal samples. Cows are pregnancy checked and are culled, if open, during normal conditions. Replacement heifers and bulls are selected at 18 months of age based on their yearling weight average daily gain on pasture and conformation. 

Yearling Herd: Our yearling bulls and heifers are weaned in the late fall and are run separate from the main breeding herd until some return to that herd as replacements the following year at fall works. During weaning, calves are fed hay and cake from bunks and hay feeders in the corrals for two weeks before being turned back out on pasture. They are cake broke in the corral, learn to follow a cake truck and learn to eat out of a bunk and bale feeder. From this time on calves are trained to be handled on foot and with ATV’s, trained to respect electric fences and to move through gates which makes them easier to handle with less stress on animals and people.

After weaning, these animals are run on pastures consisting of 100-acre meadow paddocks in a MIG grazing system with three wire electric fence to 2,500-acre range pastures for the next year. Calves receive 1 lb. of 30 % protein cake every day from mid-November until the end of April or spring green up. The only other supplementation they receive is salt and mineral.

It is also important to note that to date, Blue Creek ranch bison are naïve to Mycoplasma and have not experience an outbreak since the purchase of the ranch in 1999.