Turner Bison Exchange

Fawn Lake Ranch

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Ranch Review: Fawn Lake Ranch

Location - Gordon, Nebraska

Year Acquired - 2005

Size - 63,742                          

Cows Exposed - 1,113

Cow to Bull Ratio - 12:1

Maximum Bull Age - 7 years

Management Overview

Fawn Lake Ranch is a 63,742-acre property located in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills.  It has some of the wilder features of the Sandhills including big wet meadow complexes and choppy sandhills.  The ranch was purchased for use as a conservation-based bison production ranch.  Management of these rich grasslands support raising healthy bison with minimal inputs while also sustaining the natural ecosystem.

Breeding Herd

Fawn Lake’s breeding herd is maintained in a single herd, grazed year-round on a rotational basis in 16 pastures varying from 500-6,000 acres.  They are given minimal inputs throughout the year.  During bison works in late January and early February, pregnant cows are de-wormed, if needed, and vaccinated for mycoplasma.  Open cows are removed from the herd. 

Calves / Yearlings

During bison works the animals are dewormed and receive mycoplasma vaccinations.

At this time, the bull calves (most are already naturally weaned) are removed from the main herd.  They are placed in a large holding pen with about 15 adults that are used as “babysitters."  They keep the calves settled and provide security.  The bull calves are fed grass hay and cake.  We check them daily and spend time in the pens to get them used to our presence.  They are held for around two to three weeks to settle and then are moved to our meadow pastures.  They graze our wet meadow complexes with supplemental cake until green up.  During the summer, they graze both meadows and choppy hill pastures. 

The heifer calves are put back out with the main herd with minimal inputs until the following January through February when replacement animals are selected and returned back to the main herd.  We believe that the socialization with the main herd as well as the minimal inputs gives us the best replacement animals for our environmental and operational conditions.

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

Health

Fawn Lake had a small Mycoplasma outbreak in early 2006, but there has been no outbreak since.