Ranch Review: McGinley Ranch
Location - Gordon, Nebraska
Year Acquired - 1999
Size - 80,000 acres
Cows Exposed - 1,700
Cow to Bull Ratio - 14:1
Maximum Bull Age - 6 years
The McGinley Ranch is an 80,000-acre property in the Sandhills of Nebraska and South Dakota. The goal of the ranch is to harvest native forage in a manner that improves ecological health, promotes biological diversity of native species and produces positive economic returns from high quality bison production.
This single large herd is grazed year-round on native range with almost no supplementation. We employ rotational grazing with frequent pasture moves. The herd is rotated through 14 upland pastures ranging from 1,000-7,000 acres and at least 6 sub-irrigated meadow complexes that run 150-300 acres. We do not feed our breeding herd any hay or grain but we will strategically supplement a small amount of protein cake at certain times of the year; primarily prior to works as a behavior modifier. The herd is worked in February; All animals are vaccinated for Mycoplasma, cows are preg-checked with open cows culled on normal years. Calves are weaned and vaccinated with Mycoplasma, 7-way, virashield, wormer, and rB51 (heifers) at this time.
At the McGinley Ranch we strive to develop a herd that is exceptionally productive with almost no inputs. Replacement heifers are run with the breeding herd starting at 20-22 months and are expected to get bred while being treated like every other cow. Since 2013, all open cows are culled (including 2 and 3-year-olds).
Calves / Yearlings
Male and female calves are mixed together at weaning and fed grass hay and protein cake for 2-4 weeks, and then turned out to grass. They are run as a single herd and rotated through pastures ranging from 30-2,500 acres. We primarily hold these animals with 2 string temporary electric fencing. All yearlings are boostered for Mycoplasma in October when we select the replacement bulls, and again in March when replacement heifers are selected. Replacement selection has been based off average daily gain on grass (weaning through 18-20 months).
All ranch hands are trained in low stress livestock handling techniques which are utilized each time animals are moved or handled.
The McGinley Ranch demands “natural” performance out of our animals, they must do it all on grass with minimal supplementation. We also demand that our animals perform under potentially uncomfortable situations whether it be high stocking density or frequent pasture moves. With these guiding principles, we believe that our animals are not only selected to be highly productive under our environmental constraints but also help us obtain land use efficiencies in our operation that allow us to optimize our economic returns.
Our sale animals are healthy, easy to handle, cake broke, and are our absolute best performers.
The McGinley Ranch has experienced several Mycoplasma outbreaks in the past. The first was in 2006, then again in 2012, and finally in 2014. The outbreaks have always been confined to the yearling herd. To date we have never had a problem in the breeding herd.