BLUE CREEK RANCH
Location – Nebraska Sandhills (Oshkosh, NE)
Size – 84,000 acres
Cows Exposed – 1350
Cow: Bull Ratio – 12:1
Maximum bull age – 6yrs
Blue Creek Ranch consists of roughly 84,000 acres of Nebraska sandhills and mixed grass prairie in the western panhandle of Nebraska. Ted Turner 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.
Our breeding herd 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 22 different pastures that are from 1,000 to 5,500 acres. Low stress livestock handling techniques are used when moving in the pastures or working the animals on foot in the corrals. The breeding herd does not receive any supplementation other than salt and mineral year-round with minor range cubes provided for three weeks during the fall works when we are doing our annual processing. All our bison 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 open cows are culled during normal years. Replacement heifers and bulls are selected at 18 months of age based on their yearling weight and average daily gain on pasture over 12 months from their weaning weight to yearling weight.
Our yearling bulls and heifers are weaned in the late fall with the bulls running separate from the main herd while the heifers remain with the main herd cows until the following fall. At that time replacement bulls and heifers will be chosen and the remainder will be run separate as two-year-old yearlings. 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, bulls are run on pastures consisting of 100-acre meadow paddocks in a MIG grazing system to 2,500-acre range pastures for the next year. Bulls 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.
Blue Creek Ranch bison are naïve to Mycoplasma and have not experienced an outbreak since the purchase of the ranch in 1999.