Turner Bison Exchange

Deer Creek Ranch

Deer Creek Ranch

Location - Gordon, Nebraska

Acquired - 1997

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Size - 75,650 acres

Deer Creek Herd -

  • Cows Exposed - 909

  • Cow to Bull Ratio - 11:1

  • Maximum Bull Age - 5 years

Yellowstone Herd -

  • Cows Exposed - 156

  • Cow to Bull Ratio - 3.5:1

  • Maximum Bull Age - 3.5 yrs


Management Overview

The 75,650-acre Deer Creek Ranch is located on the Northwestern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills.  It is dominated by a Sandhills Prairie Ecosystem with a significant riparian area along the Niobrara River on the North end of the ranch where it transitions to a Mixed Grass Prairie Ecosystem.  Deer Creek Ranch’s mission is to manage the property as a cooperative team in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species, habitats, and human quality of life.

Breeding Herds

Deer Creek Ranch comprises two distinct parcels, separated by State Highway 27.  This allows for two separate bison herds, with the ability to carefully manage herd health and animal movements.

The Main Herd on Deer Creek is managed for production, producing yearlings to be grazed and prepared for feeding in the On-Ranch Feeding (ORF) facility located on the ranch.  The main herd animals are selected for their ability to annually produce a calf in this environment with minimal or no supplementation, grazing year-round.  Non-pregnant females are removed as culls from the herd during annual bison works in February.  The calves produced from this herd are intended for either herd replacements (females) or finishing in our ORF facility.

The Yellowstone Herd is managed for its unique conservation genetic values. This herd arrived from Montana to the East Portion of the Ranch in January 2019.  The short-term goal is to grow the herd numbers to fill the ranch to carrying capacity while maintaining or improving the genetic diversity of the herd.  We currently allow nearly all the animals to have an opportunity to pass their genes to the next generation by keeping an extremely high bull to cow ratio.  All females are kept in the herd at this time to allow maximum herd growth.  Bulls are kept in the herd until 3.5 years of age.  Herd genetics are monitored to determine parentage and evaluate genetic diversity.

Calves / Yearlings

The Main Herd calves are allowed to self-wean through early winter and are then removed from the herd during annual bison works in February at approximately 8 months of age which causes very little stress.  They are separated into a grower herd(s) separate from the cow herd for grazing the following summer.  During bison works the animals are tagged, dewormed, and are administered vaccinations including 7-way clostridial, 4-way viral, and Mycoplasma vaccinations.  Heifers are also vaccinated for Brucellosis.

The bull calves are grazed on grass until fall and sorted into weight groups for entering the ORF facility located on the north end of the Ranch.  Heifer calves are sorted off and grazed for another 12 to 18 months before entering the ORF facility for finishing.

Our ORF facility has been successful with good gains and essentially no health issues to date.  The animals are very content while on feed with less than ½ of 1% death loss to date.     

All ranch hands are trained in low stress livestock handling techniques which are utilized each time animals are moved or handled.

Health

Deer Creek Ranch has never had a Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and the herd is considered naïve to the organism.  Despite this, all animals are annually vaccinated for Mycoplasma bovis and given boosters prior to entering the ORF facility.