| TheFencePost.com

The source is the horse, of course

Horse manure gets a bad rap. Not only because it is, well… manure… but also due to a reputation for weed seeds when used on pastures, fields, gardens, etc. A pair of related Colorado companies — Colorado Manure Hauling (CMH) and Richer Lands Compost — is looking to change that perception by becoming one of the only, if not THE only, business combination in the country to perform the hauling and composting of equine waste to create a high-quality compost for commercial and residential use. While other businesses compost horse manure, they blend it with other organics. It is believed that CMH and Richer Lands Compost are the only ones to use equine waste as a single-source for their final product.

“We’re the only operation that I know of that has a 100% feedstock — with no diversity of that source — composts it and then sells it,” said Jonathan Whetstine, compost manager of Richer Lands Compost. “We own the hauling and now the composting. We are full circle with no middle men.”

A Colorado Manure Hauling truck and loader clean up a horse property in Elbert County. There has been such explosive demand for their services, that CMH owner Roger Whetstine believes they could easily expand from their current five trucks to eight full-time trucks and drivers in the near future. "If I had eight trucks right now, I would be happy," said Whetstine with a laugh.

Jonathan and his father, Roger Whetstine, man the helms at both companies. Roger runs the CMH manure hauling side and Jonathan heads Richer Lands Compost. The duo began horse manure hauling in 2014 after purchasing a client list, but it was desperation that led them to create Richer Lands Compost. As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

“We hit our third truck, hired a third guy and got hauling,” said Jonathan about how their hauling business was growing fast to keep up with increasing demand in their region (south to Hwy 24, north to Watkins, east to Kiowa, and west to I-25, and including Castle Rock, Sedalia and Cherry Hills in Denver). “(A landscape company) just piled it for us, but they ran out of room. We were there four times a day, each truck, so it was a constant supply and they had to keep up with us.”


Once that facility stopped accepting, the Whetstines had to scramble.

“Before we started composting, I was looking all over the country and asking (other manure haulers), ‘okay, what do you do?’ recalled Roger about juggling massive demand for hauling equine waste with a scarce supply of dumping locations. “Every one of them, the No. 1 issue was where are you dumping it? We had kind of seen it coming, but it came a whole lot quicker than we were ready for.”

Faced with the possibility of closing their business despite a waiting list of customers, Jonathan explored commercial composting as a means to solve their dumping issues and create a saleable product. While the long term was positive, the initial obstacles seemed overwhelming.

Jonathan Whetstine pushes a thermometer into an unfinished horse manure compost row to demonstrate the row's heat temperature and the science behind using the windrow method for Richer Lands Compost's equine waste. "We are using science," said Whetstine. "We are regulated, we have a full process. So that historical data of 'horse manure is bad' is not true."

“We had discussed composting at that point and it was too much,” said Jonathan of regulations and expenses. “I read this big rule book from the Colorado Department of Health and I was just like, we don’t have $2 million to build a site. I was thinking we were done.”

But where there is a will, there is a way. Forging ahead, he found U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that provided hope.


“I learned some rules that changed the game,” Jonathan explained. “We are considered agricultural feedstock, so we are registered under the USDA, (which is) a whole different game. I now had an opportunity.”

Seizing that opportunity, the Whetstines carved out acreage to receive the equine waste and set up commercial composting. They began with the tried and true windrow method, using a large Aeromaster turner and following scientific guidelines to cook and cure the windrows into finished compost. Included in those regulations were mandated sampling and testing protocols.

Roger Whetstine, left, started Colorado Manure Hauling in 2014 after purchasing the client list. From humble beginnings of hoping to provide an income for his family and his son Jonathan's family, the Whetstine's have experienced enormous growth and are currently up to five trucks hauling horse manure (four of their own plus a subcontractor) and a new composting business that is also undergoing rapid expansion. "What we have found is that there is a bigger demand... than what we anticipated," Roger said in December of 2021 as he worked at loading up and hauling away horse manure for a client in Elbert County, Colorado.

“I have to test it and send in samples to the lab,” said Jonathan about testing the compost as well as protecting nearby surface water. “I have to look at my lab results and look at my parameters.”

Fast forward several years from their scrambling start and they are now producing a compost that is lab tested at less than 1% weed and seed germination and selling to commercial landscape clients like long-time Parker, Colo., companies Hughes Landscaping, Inc. and The Sod Guy.

Showing the scale of what they are already doing on their initial four-acre operation south of Elbert, Colo., Jonathan Whetstine stands in front of a finished pile of horse-manure compost that Richer Lands Compost will sell to both commercial and residential customers.

“It is fantastic,” praised founder Kurt Hughes, who now contracts with Richer Lands Compost. Although Hughes was initially skeptical of a horse-based product due to its historic reputation, he is a happy customer. “No problems whatsoever,” Hughes continued. “A lot of people that do horse manure, they just throw it in a pile and leave it there for four or five years, and it still doesn’t look as good as if you roll it, cool it, add water to it, and the different things they do to make it very nice.”


The horse-based compost also had to pass strict metro ordinances.

“There are a lot of cities out there like Aurora and Denver and Castle Rock that you have to have certified compost to install in some of these yards,” added Hughes. “They sent it to them and we sent it to them (and) they both came back and said that is beautiful stuff to use in our cities. That is a big step right there.”

Richer Lands Compost owner and manager Jonathan Whetstine, right, talks to an employee while the tractor creeps ahead during the turning of horse manure compost windrows. An Aeromaster turner is attached to the tractor and not only completely turns over the windrow, but also applies moisture and nutrients to the windrow while it does so.

For 2022, CMH and Richer Lands Compost are expanding the compost side of their business, already procuring land and developing it with contractors and the county government. While compost does not narrowly target soil deficiencies the way chemical fertilizer does, the Whetstines believe their product can fill a long-term need arising due to shortages and skyrocketing fertilizer costs reported in the news today.

“It is a full circle look at growing,” said Jonathan as he acknowledged the scale issues for large farms to use compost. “It is hard to treat large farms with compost, (but) compost isn’t just bringing nutrients; it is also creating a home for everything that helps plants flourish — the microbiology, the fungi. Not only do you want the immediate benefits, but you want a long term house to where things come in and grow and benefit the plants. It is a long game.”

That long game also includes helping horse owners understand their equine waste is a boon versus a bane.

Multiple windrows in various stages of cooking and curing are lined up in the current four-acre Richer Lands Compost property in Elbert County Colorado. Richer Lands Compost will be expanding operations in 2022, already procuring more property where it will start with 16-acres set aside for composting horse manure brought in by its Colorado Manure Hauling sister company. "When we get the bigger spot, we can bring in more manure," said Jonathan Whetstine. "We still need to hire more trucks and sell more compost, but from what I have seen in this market and economy, it is not going to be an issue."

“To haul off manure helps the horse community,” said Jonathan. “It helps keep good neighbors, it helps everything and we want to keep horse people here because we like that mentality. In the future, when we expand, we will be accepting horse waste. If people haven’t budgeted for manure hauling, they can bring it to our location for a less expensive dump charge. For a bigger barn that already has employees and equipment, if they have a way to transport it, just bring it over for a smaller dump fee. And maybe we can help alleviate the environmental pressure of having their horse manure pile up on their property. So there are all kinds of ripple effects. And it is all just horse!” he summed up with a laugh. “It just kind of proves the power of the horse.”

For more information on CMH and Richer Lands Compost, telephone is (303) 646-4879, emails are Coloradomanurehauling@gmail.com and Richerlandscompost@gmail.com. On the web at www.Coloradomanurehauling.com, and they are also on Facebook and Instagram.

The business name and number on the cab of Colorado Manure Hauling's trucks also include the good-natured logo "Only a good friend takes your crap."

12 Nebraska counties designated as primary natural disaster areas

This secretarial natural disaster designation allows the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Impacted Area: Nebraska

Triggering Disaster: Drought

Application Deadline: Dec. 19, 2022

Primary Counties Eligible:

Blaine, Knox, Nance, Dundy, Loup, Pierce, Hayes, Madison,Platte, Hitchcock,Merrick, Red Willow

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:

Nebraska: Antelope, Cherry, Hall, Perkins, Boone, Colfax, Hamilton, Polk, Boyd, Custer, Holt, Rock, Brown, Frontier, Howard, Stanton, Butler,Furnas, Lincoln, Thomas, Cedar, Garfield, Logan, Wayne, Chase, Greeley

Colorado: Yuma

Kansas: Cheyenne, Decatur and Rawlins

South Dakota: Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Yankton

More Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.

Trichomoniasis Special Focus Area rescinded by Wyoming Livestock Board

During the Wyoming Livestock Board meeting held March 16 in Lyman, Wyo., the board rescinded Board Order No. 2017-01 that defined the Trichomoniasis Special Focus Area #1 in southwest Wyoming and required annual Trichomoniasis tests of all bulls in that area that were not still nursing their dams. Trichomoniasis has not been detected in Wyoming since the fall of 2016 while the number of bulls tested has remained roughly constant since 2011. Ranchers operating in the Special Focus Area believe that Board Order No. 2017-01 enabled them to successfully get Trichomoniasis under control in that area and is therefore no longer needed. The Special Focus Area included all of Uinta County, most of Lincoln County, and Sweetwater County south of I-80. The order, a map showing the Special Focus Area, and the Wyoming Trichomoniasis Rules are available at https://wlsb.state.wy.us/public/animal-health in the “Animal Health Rules” section under the picture of the brockle-faced calf.

With Board Order 2017-01 rescinded, the Special Focus Area is now subject to the general Wyoming Trichomoniasis Rules specified in Chapter 15 and Import Rules specified in Chapter 8. In summary, those import rules require negative Trichomoniasis tests for all non-virgin bulls and all bulls 18 months of age and older to enter Wyoming. The Trichomoniasis rules require a negative test for all non-virgin bulls and all bulls 24 months of age and older to either change ownership (including lease) or turn out for breeding on communal grazing allotments. Ranchers on a communal grazing allotment can exclude their bulls from Trichomoniasis testing requirements by submitting a written exemption request to the Wyoming State Veterinarian signed by all participants in that allotment.

“We are extremely proud of our veterinarians and producers who have worked diligently to resolve the Trichomoniasis issues in southwest Wyoming,” added Dr. Hallie Hasel, Wyoming State Veterinarian. “Our Wyoming Chapter 15 Trichomoniasis Rules will continue the needed vigilance to aid in prevention of future outbreaks.”

For further information regarding Trichomoniasis rules in Wyoming, please visit the website, https://wlsb.state.wy.us/public/animal-health, or contact the Wyoming Livestock Board office directly via phone, (307) 840-1389, or email, lsbforms-applications@wyo.gov.

Nebraska woman volunteers with local FFA chapter on trips to national convention

Each October, Miqui Sheffield takes a week out of her life for the youth of Nebraska.

Eleven times since 2006, the Farnam, Neb., woman has volunteered with the Eustis-Farnam High School FFA program, transporting youth to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

It all started in 2006, when she and her husband Mark volunteered to drive, as their youngest son, Randy, was on one of the FFA teams that had qualified for nationals.

And after their sons had graduated, she continued to travel with the team as chaperone and driver.

It’s a 13-hour trip from Eustis to Indianapolis, and by the time the school vans hit the Lexington, Neb., exchange, the kids are studying. Chad Schimmels, the FFA advisor for the school, has each team ride together, so they can study as they travel.

Cell phones come to the front of the van, Sheffield said, and students alternate their study for an hour on, a half-hour off, and so on.

Eustis-Farnam FFA had four teams qualify for the 2008 National FFA Convention; Miqui Sheffield, middle row, far right, was one of the chaperones. The four teams were Agronomy, Marketing Plan, Food Science, and Meats. Photo courtesy Miqui Sheffield


Not only is Sheffield a driver, but she’s a surrogate coach at times. Some years, Eustis-Farnam has more than one team qualify for Nationals (in 2021, two of the chapter’s teams qualified: the Food Science and Technology team and the Agronomy team). With only one advisor, Schimmels works with one team while Sheffield steps in to help the other team, listening to their presentations and asking questions similar to what the judge might ask.

Sheffield is quick to point out that other sponsors also help. Schimmel’s wife, Angie, is an assistant coach and travels with the chapter. Other sponsors and chaperones do as well, depending on the number of students who qualify for the national convention. The volunteers step in, attending coach’s meetings and escorting students while Schimmels is busy with another group.

When Sheffield’s not helping students, she’s scouting for road construction, to make sure the route to and from competition is clear. She also shuttles students between the two convention activity locations.

The youth usually leave on the Sunday before competition starts and stay in the Quad Cities area the first night. Schimmels has activities planned for them: visiting a meat processing plant, walking through the University of Illinois fields, to identify plants, and other things that relate to their studies. They arrive on Monday, and spend all day Tuesday, one hour on, a half-hour off, all day, studying. The kids are down there to compete, Sheffield said. “There are fun things for them to do after they compete.”

Her younger sons, Bryan and Randy, (she and Mark have an older boy, Kyle) benefitted from their involvement in FFA. Both boys attended junior college on meats judging scholarships, with tuition and books paid for. “To me, I can pay back the FFA program with my time.”

She’s also seen what involvement in FFA does for kids.

A Eustis-Farnam FFA chapter member covers her face in surprise when she is awarded first place in the nation in the Food Science competition in 2006. It’s a moment Sheffield cherished and it reminds her of why she volunteers: “to see the kids realize how well they’ve done at nationals is priceless.” Photo courtesy Miqui Sheffield

“It’s such a tremendous experience. FFA changes their world in ways they would never have experienced without it. These kids deserve to be there.”

The youth consider her a friend. She’s been invited to graduations and weddings and loves getting to know them.

But it all comes back to what FFA can mean to a student.

“I know how important it is for the kids to get that experience, and I want to be a part of it.”

At the 2021 National FFA convention, Eustis-Farnam had two teams finish in the top 10 nationally. The Food Science and Technology team (Karissa Hodge, Natalie Malcom, Creighton Hecox, Skyler Oberg) finished in fourth place, and the Agronomy team (Grace Schimmels, Maggie Walker, Dallas Weitzel, Madison Woehrle) finished in sixth place.

Former Nebraska volleyball standout owns horses and loves to ride

Most people think there are no similarities between horses and winning college volleyball teams.

But not so for former Nebraska volleyball player Lindsay Wischmeier Peterson.

The Lincoln, Neb., native played for the Huskers for four years, including 2000, when the school won its second of five national titles. And now she serves as director of operations for the Husker Volleyball program.

And she has horses. She admits, with her busy work schedule and four sons, there’s not much time to ride. But when she does, she loves it.

She got her own horse in sixth grade, and started riding in 4-H, on play days, and for pleasure around the family farm near Burchard. By the time she was in college, there wasn’t much opportunity to ride.


After graduating from Nebraska, Peterson spent two years coaching, one in Virginia and one in Colorado, before returning to Lincoln to work with the Husker team.

“That’s one of the first things I did,” she said, when she returned to Nebraska, “was to find a place (near Lincoln) to get my horses here so I could ride more often.”

Barrel racing gives her a chance to fulfill the competitive spirit that sports used to fill. She doesn’t barrel race much, mostly at local jackpots. When the Covid pandemic slowed things down in 2020, she was able to barrel race more.

She and her husband Ty have four children ranging in age from 2 years old to 8. All four enjoy horses and riding. The family just bought a 20-year-old horse this winter, with “more whoa than go,” Peterson said, “so that I feel comfortable with my boys riding in the arena with me, while I’m riding.”

Riding and horses are a great way for her kids to build confidence. “So far, they’re liking horses and that makes my heart happy. And I can use that as my excuse to my husband, for having the horses.”

There are plenty of similarities between volleyball and horses, Peterson said. Both involve physical balance. “With horse riding, you have to have great balance and a sense of feel. That translates to the volleyball court, and movements that strengthen your core and your balance.”

Emotions are another commonality between the two. Trusting your teammates is important when playing volleyball, and the trust between a horse and rider is important, too. Not being scared of what might happen is another lesson shared by both disciplines.

“Horses can sense fear, and if you’re scared, they’re going to be scared. It’s the same with your teammates. They can sense if you’re scared. At Nebraska, there’s a lot of expectation and pressure, and it’s easy to have fear.”


Both require hard work, too. “You have to work (at riding). You can’t expect your horse to perform if you don’t ride frequently. It’s the same with volleyball. You’re not going to be able to perform if you don’t work at it.”

Recently, she sold a horse to Nebraska head volleyball coach John Cook, who knew how to ride prior to buying the animal. After watching the television series, “Yellowstone,” his desire to ride was reignited. He sometimes comes out to ride at Peterson’s place. “He’s grown to appreciate the outlet” that horse riding provides,” Peterson said.

Lindsay Wischmeier Peterson played volleyball for Nebraska from 1999-2002 and is now the director of operations for the Nebraska Volleyball program. A horse rider, she loves the connection she feels with them while riding. Photo courtesy NebraskaVolleyball

As director of operations, Peterson is responsible for a variety of tasks at one of the winningest college volleyball programs in the nation. She handles team travel, budgeting, coordinating tournaments and camps, and assisting visiting teams. During her stint as a player for the Huskers, she was a former Husker volleyball captain and one of the greatest defensive players in school history.

With her busy work schedule and four boys, she doesn’t ride as much as she’d like to. But she has plans for retirement.

“I always joke with my husband that when I retire, instead of traveling, I’m going to get a nice trailer and load up my horses and go.”

She wants her sons to soak up the lessons that can be learned from a horse.

“There are a lot of life lessons and things you can learn in a relationship with a horse.”

Horses “are incredible animals. I really enjoy the connection that you can have with them.

“They’re an outlet for me. I find great peace getting on a horse and riding.”

Wyoming Livestock Board chapter rules out for public comment

The Wyoming Livestock Board voted at its Jan. 20, 2022 board meeting to amend its Chapter 9 rules governing brand inspection and brand recording fees. The proposed changes would offset cuts made to the general fund portion of the brand inspection program’s budget. The Wyoming Livestock Board also voted to amend its Chapter 21 rules governing recording, transfer and renewal of livestock brands. The proposed changes would make it easier for a person to obtain an abandoned brand that was originally recorded for multiple species. Further information on the proposed rules is in the Statement of Reasons.

Statement of principal reasons for revisions to Chapters 9 and 21 of the Wyoming Livestock Board’s rules:

Proposed revisions to Chapter 9: Brand inspection fees rules and regulations

There have been significant cuts to the board’s brand Inspection program in the last several fiscal years. The proposed increases in brand recording and brand inspection fees are designed to offset most of the cuts in funding for the program that have already been implemented.

The majority of the changes proposed would be to brand recording fees. Traditionally, brand recording fees in Wyoming have been among the lowest in the nation and that would continue even if these fee increases are adopted. There are also some small increases in the brand inspection fees, which would mostly affect fees for some horse inspections, the brand inspection per visit surcharge, the permanent brand inspection fee, and for in-state movement permits and out-of-state accustomed range permits. The changes proposed are in the following sections:

Section 4. Brand Inspection Fees

The fee for brand inspection horses, mules and asses would increase from $13.50 to $15. The brand inspection surcharge fees would increase from $11.25 per visit to $12. The permanent brand inspection fees would increase from $23 to $25.

Section 6. Range Permits

The fee for an in-state range movement permit would increase from $80.50 for the first permit to $100. The fee for any additional permit issued to a permittee would increase from $69 to $85. The rate for inspection for an out-of-state accustomed range permit would increase from 30% of a regular brand inspection, to 35% of a regular brand inspection.

Section 7. Brand Recording Fees

The fee to apply for a new brand would increase from $165 to $200, and adding an additional species would increase from $82.50 to $100. The fee for recording a previously recorded brand would increase from $330 to $400. The fee for extending a brand’s active term past the standard 10 year renewal would increase to $400 for each renewal period up to 50 years (20 to 50 year renewals), and after 50 years (for 60 to 100 year renewals), the rate would increase an additional $250. The fee to record a bill of sale or other transfer of ownership would increase from $110 to $137.50.

Section 8. Fees for Modifying a Brand’s Active Term

The fees for modifying a brand’s active term are prorated into future renewals. For example, if a person has two or more brands and wished them to be renewed at the same time, they can elect to move a brand into a future renewal, at a prorated cost. The fee to modify a brand’s active term for two years would increase from $66 to $80. The fee to modify a brand’s active term for four years would increase from $132 to $160. The fee to modify a brand’s active term for six years would increase from $198 to $240. The fee to modify a brand’s active term for eight years would increase from $264 to $320.

Proposed revisions to Chapter 21: Rules governing the recording, transfer, and renewal of livestock brands

The only proposed change to the Chapter 21 rules is in Section 6. Following long term board policy, the current rules state that if a person applies for reissuance of an abandoned brand, the board can only reissue it exactly the way it was previously recorded, which means for the same species and in the same locations on those species. Many times a person has applied for reissuance of an abandoned brand, but could not get the brand reissued because there may be a conflict on one species of a multi-species brand. Additionally, an applicant often times wants the brand for only one of the species that does not have a conflict, but the board cannot approve that application because current rules state that reissuance of an abandoned brand is all or nothing. The board has received several requests from the public to change this part of the rule.

The proposed change in the rule would allow an applicant to ask for reissuance of a multi-species abandoned brand for fewer species than it was originally recorded for, which would address both issues. For example, if an applicant wants an abandoned brand for horses, but that abandoned brand was originally recorded for use on horses and cattle, the board could reissue it as just a horse brand, provided that there are no conflicts with other active brands for horses.

To view the proposed rules please visit the rules.wyo.gov or wlsb.state.wy.us websites. To submit a comment, please mail to: WLSB, c/o Rule Comments, 1934 Wyott Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82007, or email wlsb-rules@wyo.gov.

If you have questions regarding the revision of these rules, please contact the Wyoming Livestock Board at (307) 777-6443 and ask for Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa or Livestock Board Director Steve True. We will be accepting public comment on these rules from Feb. 17, 2022 until April 13, 2022.

CCA members and stakeholders gather for another highly successful and policy-driven Mid-Winter Conference

ARVADA, Colo. — It was a busy two days for Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s at the 2022 Mid-Winter Conference, which wrapped up recently at the DoubleTree Hotel in Denver. After a virtual 2021 event, it was great to return to business and tackle issues and opportunities facing the industry. The event was full with member engagement, policy discussions, award presentations, and catching up with new and old friends from across the state. Attendees also had the unique opportunity to network with Colorado’s legislators at CCA’s Legislative Reception and 1867 Banquet.

The event kicked off on Monday with meetings amongst leadership and members. The day concluded with an Environmental Stewardship Award Program Reception, honoring Beatty Canyon Ranch as the 2020 ESAP award winners, and a Capitol Hill briefing for members and stakeholders to get an inside look at what to expect in the 2022 Legislative Session. Tuesday, members gathered for a productive day beginning with CCA’s 10 steering committee meetings, which help establish the organization’s policies and stance on a wide range of legislative and regulatory topics that impact Colorado’s beef industry.

Following the committee meetings, CCA held its Awards Lunch where the association recognized some of the best and brightest from our industry honoring their service and dedication. After lunch, CCA hosted its Business Session before heading to the state capitol to meet with legislators.

That evening, CCA held its Legislative Reception and 1867 Banquet, where members and legislators had the opportunity to not only discuss ag related issues, but also build a more personal relationship through discussing issues of mutual importance. “CCA is a grassroots, member-driven organization that represents the interests of the over 10,000 cattle ranching families throughout the state. While our primary focus relates to the beef industry, CCA also has an interest in all issues dealing with natural resources, private property rights and small business viability. We appreciate that the 1867 Banquet generated many beneficial conversations between CCA members and legislators,” said Steve Wooten, CCA president.

The evening ended with additional award presentations, including honoring Evan Slack as an honoree of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Foundation Endowment Trust. This successful event would not be possible without members, industry stakeholders, and sponsors’ involvement. CCA thanks all those who traveled to Denver for the event to engage in the grassroots policy process that is so important to ensuring agriculture’s success in Colorado for generations to come. We look forward to gathering again this summer at our 2022 Annual Convention in Colorado Springs.


At our 2022 Mid-Winter Conference, CCA honored Evan Slack as an honoree of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Foundation Endowment Trust. The Endowment Trust began in 1959 as an idea to help secure a financial future for the association and today, it continues with this mission. One form of support to the Endowment Trust is through contributions made in memory of a family member or friend. This has provided many with a way to help the Endowment Trust and remember those who have been a part of the beef cattle industry.

Evan Slack, hall of fame farm broadcaster, had a radio career spanning 68 years and during that time, he broadcasted from 45 states, four Canadian Provinces and Australia. Not only did he interview thousands of farmers and ranchers during his career, but also several celebrities and politicians like John Wayne, Elvis Presley and President George H.W. Bush. Evan was a leader in the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. Once he got his pilot’s license in 1967, he literally took off and he has been flying the friendly skies of this country ever since bringing his own brand of personal charm to the airwaves via the airways.

Evan had a great impact on our industry and will be dearly missed.


The 2021 Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year is Warner Ranch of Fort Lupton, Colo. The Warner Ranch, owned and operated by Bob Warner since 1970, is a Colorado Centennial Ranch and raises an Angus-based cow/calf herd. In addition to ranching, Bob has served on local conservation districts for the past 49 years and has been a member of CCA for over 40 years.


The 2021 Outstanding Seedstock Producer of the Year is Bridle Bit Simmentals. Bridle Bit Simmentals, located in Walsh, Colo., is owned and operated by Erroll Cook and his three sons, Chad, Brent and Brad. The Cooks have been in the seedstock business since 1969 raising purebred simmental cattle. The Cooks focus on economically relative traits and have recently installed a GrowSafe system on their ranch to gain additional feed efficiency data. The Cook family are longtime members of Bent-Prowers and CCA, as well as active with the Simmental association at the state and national level.


The CCW Rookie of the Year award’s purpose is to honor and recognize a new Colorado CattleWoman/CowBelle who has served and promoted the programs and purposes of CCW in an outstanding manner. This year’s recipient is Nikki Wernsman from Logan County CattleWomen.


The CattleWoman of the Year Award is presented to Sharon Clever of the Routt County CattleWomen. Sharon has held multiple leadership positions since 2018 and is always finding different ways to support her local organization. She continually puts in her time and efforts to promote beef and the agriculture industry as a whole.


The 2021 Brand Inspector of the Year award is Deb Veron. Verson is the Brand Inspector supervisor for the South Central Area and has served for over 10 years. In recent years, he was instrumental in resolving a lingering livestock loss problem in the San Luis Valley. As the Electronic Brand Certificate Project Coordinator & Supervisor, Veron has helped design, led, managed and implemented the brands division’s conversion from paper-based inspection certificate system.

CCA also recognized the 2020 Brand Inspector of the Year, Terry Florian, for his over 30 years of commitment and service in the Northeast Central area.


Although CCA did not receive a specific law officer candidate this year, we want to extend our appreciation and thanks for the law enforcement community and all they do to help and protect our industry.


Membership is our lifeblood. We thank everyone that is a CCA member, as well as those that help recruit on our behalf. The winner of the 2021 Individual Membership Recruiter Contest and the wonderful S01 Priefert Rancher chute is Joe Kasza, who recruited an impressive 56 members.


CCA’s Rate-of-Growth winner is given to the affiliate with the highest rate of growth averaged based on the size of affiliate, retention of members, and new members recruited. The affiliate with the highest rate of growth for 2021 is Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association.

Gov. Polis and Water Education Colorado launch Water ’22 initiative to implore Coloradans to conserve and protect water

DENVER — Today, Jan. 26, just less than a month after one of Colorado’s most destructive fires caused in part by drought, Gov. Jared Polis and Water Education Colorado launched Water ’22, a statewide, year-long initiative that implores Coloradans to take an active role in securing the state’s water future.

One of the key ways Water ’22 asks Coloradans to engage is by taking a pledge to engage in “22 Ways to Care for Colorado Water in 2022,” which includes simple actions that can save at least 22 gallons of water per day while keeping waterways clean. This amounts to 8,000 gallons a year for every Coloradan or 48 million gallons a year across Colorado, which will help protect and preserve the state’s rivers, watersheds and water supplies.

The Water ’22 campaign was created to educate Coloradans about how the state’s water is one of its most important resources and to encourage conservation and protection in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change, which has led to persistent drought conditions. Those conditions helped fuel the most damaging fire in the state’s history in late December, as well as the three largest wildfires on record which burned in 2020, causing degradation to forested watersheds where 80% of Colorado’s water supply originates. Increased water awareness is a fundamental step in helping Coloradans understand the risks to a sustainable water future and the need to work together innovatively to stretch scarce supplies. Some examples of how drought impacts Colorado include:

· The Marshall Fire is considered the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, and climate experts say drought, heavy winds, and recent warm weather created the atmosphere for the fire to flourish and that similar events will be more common in the future.

· Spring snowmelt, the primary contributor to Colorado streamflows and water supplies, is being sapped by ultra-dry soils in the state’s watersheds. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, though the statewide spring snowpack measured at 90% of average by late spring last year, streamflows were dramatically lower, registering below 30% in many of the state’s stream systems.

· Less water can be drawn from Colorado’s aquifers and pulled from rivers, of which 86% is used to grow crops and raise livestock. By 2050 drought may cost agriculture $511 million in damages annually in Colorado, according to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

· Reduced snowpack and runoff in the state’s rivers also impacts the state’s tourism industries, including skiing and river recreation, both significant economic drivers. A 2019 study by Business for Water Stewardship found that river and water-related recreation contributes $19 billion annually to Colorado’s economy.

· More than two decades of drought has severely impacted the Colorado River, which supplies 40 million people and millions of acres of agricultural land across seven states and Mexico. Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest reservoirs in the U.S., both hold Colorado River water and fell to record-low levels last summer.

“From the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains to southern Colorado, our economy depends on water,” said Colorado Gov. Polis. “Together with Water Education Colorado, I’m asking everyone to conserve and protect Colorado waters for today and for future generations. Simple actions can make a big impact on our state’s most important resource.”


Water ‘22 encourages Coloradans to learn more about the state’s water, starting with knowing where their water comes from to foster a sense of connection to the source. Then, Water ’22 asks Coloradans to take a pledge to commit to engaging in 22 simple actions that can help conserve and protect water for future generations, resulting in savings of more than 22 gallons of water a day per person. Some examples of these actions include taking a shorter shower, operating dish and clothes washers only when they are full, fixing leaks and drips in faucets and toilets, and practicing smart outdoor watering on landscapes, such as avoiding watering during the heat of the day.

To give even more life to the campaign, Coloradans are asked to share a story or post of themselves taking one of the Water ’22 actions and use the hashtag #Water22. Each month, five Coloradans who share their commitment to #Water22 on social media will be selected to win incredible prizes such as gift cards, tickets to events, or Water ’22 branded gear. Statewide athletes, celebrities and officials like Gov. Polis will also share videos of themselves taking action to help promote the campaign.

“Water ’22 is a year-long celebration of Colorado’s water, dedicated to the idea that ‘It all starts here,’ which highlights our sense of pride and responsibility as a headwaters state,” said Jayla Poppleton, executive director for Water Education Colorado. “Our snowmelt flows to tens of millions of people in 18 other states and Mexico, and it’s up to us to be good stewards of this resource. This campaign is about Coloradans from all corners of the state recognizing the value of water and growing in understanding of how water connects us all through our shared reliance and appreciation. We’re encouraging more Coloradans to see themselves as water stewards who can take proactive steps in the face of drought and climate change to make sure our water can meet all of the needs of today and for future generations. We each need to do our part.”

Water ’22 will also provide opportunities for Coloradans throughout the state to engage with the campaign through a variety of planned activities including a statewide book club and author talks, volunteer days, film screenings, a student water awareness week in schools, a statewide watershed beer competition, on-the-ground tours, and much more. Water ’22 will also plan activities during major events like World Water Day (March 22) and National Drinking Water Week (May 1-7), as well as call attention to milestones like the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact (Nov. 24) — the fundamental agreement governing shared use of Colorado River water across the seven U.S. states that rely on the river’s diminishing flows, the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (Dec. 2), and the release of the updated Colorado Water Plan for public comment this summer.

Coloradans can learn more about the state’s water, find events and activities, and take action to conserve and protect 22 gallons of water a day and 8,000 gallons of water a year by visiting www.water22.org and following Water Education Colorado at www.facebook.com/watereducationCO, www.instagram.com/watereducationco/ and at https://twitter.com/WaterEdCO.

In addition to being supported by Gov. Polis, Water ’22 has the support of numerous water-related organizations, businesses and industry groups across the state. The Colorado Water Conservation Board is a supporting partner, and Chevron, Molson Coors Beverage Company and Wana Brands are presenting sponsors.

2022 National Western Stock Show’s championship round of rodeo

After having to cancel 2021’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, NWSS officials vowed the historic event would return in 2022. Overcoming obstacles and challenges regarding COVID, along with accompanying COVID policies and mandates, the NWSS built enthusiasm and momentum for its rodeo until it all peaked with a jam-packed championship round of rodeo on Sunday Jan. 23, 2022. With a total payout of $595,302, including all 20 pro rodeos and PBR bull riding — the NWSS attracted the biggest names and the best bucking stock in the sport of pro rodeo.

2022 National Western Stock Show Title Winners:

Bareback: Rocker Steiner (Texas) — 87.5 points

Steer Wrestling: Mike McGinn (Oregon) — 3.6 seconds

Team Roping: Coy Rahlmann (Missouri)/Douglas Rich (Illinois) — 4.4 seconds

Saddle Bronc: Kolby Wanchuk (Alberta, Canada) — 89 points

Tie Down Roping: Kyle Lucas (Alberta, Canada) — 7.5 seconds

Barrel Racing: Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi (Texas) — 14.89 seconds

Bull Riding: Josh Frost (Utah) — 92 points

The championship round of rodeo at the National Western Stock show also features the best bucking stock in the sport, as Creighton Curley found out the hard way when Burch Rodeo's award winning Lunatic From Hell sent the cowboy tumbling and then stepped around him while showing off for the big crowd.
2022 Miss Rodeo America -- former Miss Rodeo Colorado's Hailey Frederiksen of Wellington, Colo. -- was highlighted by a spotlight as she carried the colors around the Denver Coliseum before the start of action in the 2022 National Western Stock Show's championship round of rodeo on Sunday Jan. 23.
Arena personnel cracked the first chute to open the action for the championship round of rodeo at the 2022 National Western Stock Show in Denver (Sunday Jan. 23), releasing bareback rider Wyatt Denny and Cervi Championship Rodeo's Vitalix Organic Outlaw onto the sands of the Denver Coliseum. The duo got the packed crowd warmed up with a successful 81-point ride.
2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado -- Ashley Baller from Parker, Colo. -- made Colorado rodeo proud during the 2022 National Western Stock Show in Denver. Galloping the arena of the Denver Coliseum during the championship round of rodeo was just one of many items packing her schedule throughout the busy 16-days of the NWSS.
Utah bull rider Josh Frost scored 92 crowd pleasing points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Predator to win Sunday's (Jan. 23) championship round of rodeo and the bull riding title at the 2022 National Western Stock Show.
Canadian saddle bronc rider Kolby Wanchuk put on a big show aboard Cervi Brother’s Vitalix Womanizer for 89 points during the championship round to earn the win at the historic 2022 National Western Stock Show.
With the slate wiped clean for the championship round of the National Western Stock Show's rodeo, every particpant that qualified for the final round had a shot at winning the buckle. Team ropers Coy Rahlmann (header) and Douglas Rich (heeler) made the most of the opportunity by nailing down the fastest time of 4.4 seconds as the first team out of the chutes in the Team Roping event. While 11 other teams tried to catch their score, none were successful.
With a pair of 4.2-second times already on the board, Oregon steer wrestler Mike McGinn knew he had to be fast to take home the 2022 NWSS steer wrestling title. Reaching wide early in his run, McGinn secured the fastest time of the championship round in 3.6 seconds to take home the coverted buckle.
Canadian tie down roper Kyle Lucas left his horse to secure the fastest time of the 2022 National Western Stock Show's championship round of rodeo with 7.5-seconds. The time earned Lucas the NWSS tie down buckle and a big check to help kick start his year.
Multiple world champion barrel racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi showed the big crowd why she is one of the best in the sport as she reached down to flip the third barrel back in place while never slowing down on her way to a blistering 14.89-second time and her 5th National Western Stock Show barrel racing title (Sunday Jan. 23, 2022).
Seventeen-time NWSS competitor and five-time NWSS winner, barrel racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi was introduced to the crowd with fog and special effects as the leader coming in the National Western's championship round. Pozzi Tonozzi scorched a 14.89-second time for the fastest run in the final round to take home her fifth NWSS buckle.
Texas bareback cowboy Rocker Steiner (aboard Cervi Brother’s Ain’t No Angel) scored a high flying 87.5 points to tie for the top score in the National Western's championship round of rodeo to win the 2022 NWSS bareback buckle via a tiebreaker tabulation over fellow competitor Cole Franks.

Wolf attacks overwhelming resources as commission rule leaves management’s hands tied

Rancher Don Gittleson is tired. The fallout of wolves is playing out in real time on his Walden, Colo., ranch before the first introduced wolf ever hits the ground.

A mature cow that was attacked by wolves on a Walden, Colo., ranch. Photo courtesy of Don Gittleson

Gittleson, who runs a commercial and purebred Angus operation, said he has had wolf activity within 100 yards of his home but the single wolf, a collared black female, hadn’t previously bothered so much as a barn cat. He reported seeing a second wolf that Colorado Parks and Wildlife was able to locate and collar, a male. Together, the two would make the cattle nervous but no damage was done. As time went on, he began seeing more wolves, sometimes as many as six together. He moved some large mature cows into a pasture with the heifers to dissuade the wolves, which worked temporarily until a Christmastime attack.

“There’s an elk herd not far from me and we’re pretty sure they were chasing them,” he said. “When we went out to find the two cows that were injured, there was an elk in the bottom down by the cow carcass. It got up and moved off and wasn’t limping, but you could tell it was injured. I think the elk ran into the cows and they didn’t kill anything — some of them stayed and chewed on the elk, some chewed on one cow, and some chewed on another cow. One cow must have had more wolves on her, but they didn’t kill anything to eat.”

Rancher Don Gittleson is left with few options to protect his cattle from wolves. Photo courtesy of Don Gittleson

On Jan. 18, two of Gittleson’s mature bred cows were attacked, one had to be euthanized and another was able to be treated for injuries to a hind leg and flank. He said his instinct was to leave the carcass so the wolves might feed on it rather than killing another cow, but he listened to the experts. The wolves returned and killed another mature bred cow. These attacks are in addition to the working dogs attacked- one of which was killed — on a neighboring ranch. This brings his losses up to three head.

Wolves have killed and depredated cattle on the Gittleson Angus ranch in Walden, leaving three head dead since late December. Photo courtesy of Don Gittleson

Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association said Gittleson and other ranchers are left with their hands tied without lethal means to protect their herds. Just a few miles to the north in Wyoming, wolves can be shot to protect livestock.

“These wolves are teaching their offspring to kill whatever they need to survive,” he said. “The reason this turned on like a light bulb is those pups are of age at a level where they are learning other prey bases. This is going to continue, but by the time they’re done teaching this generation, there are three more wolf litters from the same pack that will begin the same cycle.”

Don Gittleson, on Dec. 26, 2021, discusses how the wolves entered his ranch outside Walden from the steep hillside and where he found the carcass of a heifer calf inside the corral during the previous week. Photo by Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun

Fankhauser said he appreciates the level of cooperation between the agencies even though their hands are tied. Notably, the Parks and Wildlife Commission could adjust their rule to allow lethal means to control wolf depredation.

“These are a non-listed species federally and Colorado has tied its own hands by keeping them listed in the state and not managing them,” he said. “That is a Wildlife Commission decision. They could untie partially their hands with a simple vote of the commission and give the commission management ability, regardless of this introduction hanging over our heads.”

The bottom line, he said, is if people want to have wolves in Colorado, they must be managed to avoid livestock losses, animal welfare issues, and major financial losses.

“This isn’t helping the cause of those who voted for the introduction,” he said. “They’re villainizing the wolf because they’re not allowing the wolf to be managed.”

Each attack, he said, dominates an entire day for multiple wildlife officers and for the Gittlesons. Outside of the man hours and the cattle losses, the costs of animal stress resulting in lower calf weights and lost pregnancies.

“Today was a fiasco,” Gittleson said. “They scattered the cows all over and into small bunches. We spent a good portion of the day to get them back into the pasture they had been in, they absolutely did not want to return to that pasture.”

Even after tempting the cows with feed, moving them through pastures took all day and he ultimately had to mix bred cows, bulls, and open heifers together which he said is far from ideal.


Gittleson said wildlife officials are working to get hazing tools to him, but none of the solutions are effective long term and with April calving several months away, he hopes to keep some tools for use during that season. Range riders to ride through the cattle at night are being brought in, and the Gittlesons are spending inordinate amounts of time with the cattle in attempts to protect and care for them.

He has observed wolves going under fences to move between pastures and said he thought strengthening the bottom strand of wire might help until he saw one wolf clear a tall four wire fence “as easily as any deer.”

“As big a mess as this is turning out to be, all the state needs is about 30 more of them,” he said. “The general public needs to leave the wildlife management to the people who manage wildlife.”

CPW Director Dan Prinzlow was in a meeting with multiple stakeholders and departments Thursday morning to discuss recent wolf depredation. He said the dommission did recently pass an emergency non-injurious wolf hazing rule to help livestock owners dealing with recent attacks.

While attempting to manage these migratory wolves from Wyoming, the agency is also working on Proposition 114 and the introduction of wolves to the state. CPW staff, he said, will draft a plan of action for damage and a plan of action for management based on feedback from various working groups. That draft plan will be delivered to the commission in November of 2022 and at that time, the commission will gather stakeholder feedback and make a decision no later than May, 2023 so of the CPW may take action on the plan in the winter of 2023.