Bear Mountain Angus Ranch
May 22, 2012
Nestled in the Southwest corner of Nebraska lies an Angus operation that is family owned and operated. The ranch, owned by Brian and Tiffany Stoller, has a rich history, which started as a 4-H project.
The ranch was created in 1986, when Gary and Davy Stoller bought two Angus heifers for their sons Brian and Scott. The ranch started in North Central California in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the small town of Angels Camp.
By 1995, the ranch grew to include 100 mother cows. Shortly after Brian Stoller attended college, and the herd was sold. Once he finished college, Stoller bought an operation with his parents in Idaho known as Foote Acres Angus. The ranch grew to 500 mother cows.
“Due to land values and developers being interested in the property in Idaho, we sold the land and relocated to Palisade, Neb., in 2008,” said Stoller.
Before the move, the herd was downsized, and is now at a current size of 300 mother cows, composed of mostly Angus and a few Charolais cows, as well as some commercial cows.
“It all started as a 4-H project, and from there it has just become a way of life for me and my family. I just love working with livestock and the people involved in the cattle industry. I don’t think you can find people who are more honest and down to earth,” Stoller said.
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Now, the ranch focuses on quality production. “Our goals are to have a very successful bull sale each and every year and to work with our customers and make sure we have a quality product for their needs,” he said.
The ranch’s slogan is: Focusing on Quality with Performance. “That slogan basically is what I think about when making breeding decisions. I want to make sure that the EPDs and performance, both on the scale and on the rail are good, but at the same time not lose sight of phenotype,” Stoller said.
He continued, “We enjoy going out to the pasture and looking at a high quality set of cows that we can be proud of. The EPDs don’t always tell the whole story, therefore I keep in mind structure, feet and legs, fleshing ability, udders, length and depth of body and all the other important traits that make a good mama cow who produces quality.”
The ranch utilizes artificial insemination and embryo transfer extensively in their operation. “They have both been used successfully at procreating a higher number of quality cattle and doing it more rapidly,” Stoller said.
Artificial insemination is used on every cow and heifer on the place, and then they are turned out with a bull to breed the ones that come back into heat. “We will AI all of our cows and heifers at least once before we turn a herd sire out, and about 90 of our 300 cows are used as recipients for embryo calves,” he said.
The ranch currently has 12 donor cows, that are bred and then flushed, and the embryos are put into the recipient cows. This way, one cow can have multiple offspring in a year that are of the same genetics. The family also owns six herd bulls, which are used for artificial insemination.
He said, “This allows us to produce more offspring from those cows who we know will produce higher quality calves. It also provides our customers with more opportunity to purchase more closely related bulls to turn out, so they can have a more consistent calf crop to sell. AI also helps with this same thing, so we can produce a bunch of half siblings, which will help in making their calf crop more consistent.”
This consistency has helped the ranch to continuously have a successful bull sale. “We have two sales a year where in the spring we sell approximately 130 bulls, and a sale in the fall where we sell some females with the focus being on Show/Donor prospects,” said Stoller.
In addition to raising quality cattle to sell, the family also shows cattle. “The biggest success is using showing cattle as a tool for meeting new customers and reassuring old friends and customers of the quality of the cattle we raise and produce,” he said.
The family has had many champions over the years. “As far as accomplishments in the show ring, we have had numerous champions and division champions at different ROV shows. I have also had the pleasure of showing the 1997 National Western Stock Show Champion Angus Heifer in the junior show, and winning the Western National Angus Futurity junior show in Reno, Nev., three times,” he said.
They have also sold heifers that have become champions including a heifer who became the champion two times at NILE in Billing, Mont., and was the Champion owned female at the Western National Angus Futurity Junior Show in 2006.
Another heifer was sold to a family that became the Supreme Champion Heifer at the San Antonio Livestock Show, and Champion Angus at the Houston and Fort Worth Livestock shows.
“There are many other junior exhibitors who have purchased heifers from us and done very well, but there are probably too many to mention and our main goal with selling show heifers is to get the next generation involved in the cattle industry and to help them learn whatever they can or want to from us. This is how I got so involved, and this is my way of paying it forward,” Stoller said.
The biggest challenge that the family faces is not with the cattle, but with help on the ranch. The ranch is solely run by Stoller and his wife Tiffany, and their two children Reagan, who is 11, and Mckinley who is 18 months old.
“My parents have definitely helped us get our start and set us up, but have since turned everything over to us. They still help out when needed, but are pretty much retired,” he said.
Since it’s only the family who works on the ranch, getting everything done each day can be hard. “Finding good help that is reliable and knowledgeable is a challenge. It seems like the people either tell you they know more than they really do, or they know what needs done but just don’t want to get it done,” he said.
Even though they have challenges, the work is rewarding. “My favorite moments are when the kids show heifers and do really well, and are successful. Also when those heifers turn into cows, and start producing quality cattle that they can sell and do well with,” said Stoller.
It is the goal of the operation to continue growing and producing quality cattle, as well as making new friends and customers.