Last updated on June 1st, 2023 at 01:33 pm
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Remote Ranching the Easy Way
Since switching to Riomax, Chad Sears has never looked back.
MEET Chad Sears
Tradition and innovation. Respecting history and legacy and those who have gone before while looking toward the future as the sixth generation saddle up and ride the sprawling 4W Ranch near Newcastle, Wyoming.
The sixth generation to ride the 4W is Maclayne, who goes by Laynie, daughter of Chad and Gillian Sears. She is as much at home on the 29,000-acre ranch first established in 1878, which literally sits at the end of a long and winding road, as every generation before her and is the promise for the future.
With a nod to forward-thinking, the genetics on the 4W used to be an eclectic mix of breeds, with hide color ranging from black and black-baldy with moderate amounts of red as well as Hereford, Dutch Belted and Beefalo, according to an article originally published in “Tri-State Livestock News.”
The genetics in the 550-head cowherd now are mostly Red Angus along with Charolais crosses, dating back to the 1960s when the French breed was brought to the ranch near the headwaters of the Cheyenne River. Chad started to tighten the genetics in the 2000s in an effort to make a more uniform calf crop, except for a few colorful misfits that Gillian fell in love with, and Chad keeps for marker cows.
It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. In Chad Sears’ case, necessity was the driver for innovation, for taking a hard look at surviving drought and holding the herd together.
“We’ve been using Riomax® since 2012, the really bad drought,” Chad says. “I love the product because it’s really allowed our cows to get out and utilize the full pasture.”
He used to cake his cows as a supplementation strategy, calling them to the truck. However, he deduced that the cows were using more energy as they ran to the cake truck than they got from the alfalfa cube supplement. Plus, the practice didn’t encourage the cows to utilize the whole pasture, some of which are very large, ranging from around 3,500 acres to as high as around 6,000 acres.
“With the Riomax® tubs, you can really spread them out and they get full utilization of the pasture, plus it’s available all the time,” he says.
Breed Up and Weaning Weights
But pasture management, as he discovered, was just one of a multitude of advantages that the orange Riomax® tubs provided. Conception rates have been at 97-98 percent since he began providing Riomax® as a supplement. “Even on our first-calf heifers, we had a couple of 100 percent (breed up) on those,” he says.
“The other great thing is our weaning weights have consistently gone up,” he adds. “We used to be lucky to get 500 pounds weights with our 1,100- to 1,200-pound cows. Now we’ve gone up to around 550-pound, 580-pound steers before shrink, and it’s a lot to do with Riomax®.”
In addition to caking his cows, he previously gave his calves creep feed to enhance sale weights. “We switched from creep feed to putting Riomax® out. It increased weaning weights and the cows go into winter in much better body condition.”
In fact, switching from creep feed to Riomax® actually enhanced the salability of his calves. “The buyers that I’ve talked to actually prefer the calves that have not been on creep but have just been on a supplement like Riomax®. So that’s another benefit.”
Lowering Inputs on the Ranch
It took Jean Harshbarger, Chad’s grandmother, a little while to get over paying the bill after the Riomax® shipment arrived. After seeing the change in the cattle, writing the check got a little easier, especially considering the tubs replaced two other inputs.
Of course, having healthy, reproductively sound cows that are matched to the environment is important, but you also have to consider the bulls. Several years after adding Riomax® to the management mix, a veterinarian was doing breeding soundness exams on the bulls, which involves testing the semen. “The vet was like, ‘Whoa, what have you been feeding these bulls? The semen is fantastic.’”
That summer back in 2012 was bad. Really bad. The grass never greened up; the immediate future looked bleak. But tough times force tough decisions and Chad Sears’ momentum has always been forward. He tried Riomax® more than 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
15-30% forage & hay savings with Riomax
Riomax® is revolutionizing the way ranchers deal with high input costs. With better digestion, your herd can get all the nutrients they need from less grass. This leaves you with more days on grass (you start feeding later in the fall), less stress, and a more padded pocketbook.