Updated: Mar 29, 2022
Written by Ashley Mick
Photo credit: Donna Adame
Rush Creek Ranch is a second-generation cattle ranch located on the plains of Southeastern Colorado. In the early 1970s George Tempel started the ranch along Rush Creek, which is where the ranch name came from. George started his operation with 12,000 acres. The ranch now spreads out across 46,000 acres of both owned and leased land in several counties. Early on George raised sheep, then switched to running yearling cattle on the ranch. They are currently running 1100 head of cow/calf pairs. The day-to-day operation of this ranch is managed by two full-time employees.
We spoke with Gary Wollert, who has been the ranch manager since 2008, to find out how they supplement their cattle properly to assure that they are always in good condition. He stated they prefer to give the cattle alfalfa although it just depends on the price of feed. Colorado Mills’ Natures Best 26 ATM, better known as range cubes or cattle cake to some, is also a preferred product. Gary refers to this product as a very good product. He feeds anywhere from 3-6 lbs per cow per day, depending on the time of year and the needs of the cattle. Gary likes the product because it helps maintain good body condition, keeps their hair healthy, and it also has enough fat and protein to keep the cow’s rumen healthy. The ranch has been using Colorado Mills’ products for 20 plus years.
When asked what practices are utilized to be responsible stewards of the land, Gary stated that they will liquidate cattle whenever necessary, supplement feed, and take cattle off of certain pastures to let the grass “rest”. The ranch weans calves from November through December 15th. The weaned calves are then sent to their backgrounding lot in Granada, Colorado. Ultimately the calves will be sent up the hill to the 18,000 head feedlot, Granada Feeders, which is a feedlot that the late George Tempel started and now his family co-owns with a few other partners.
Along with running cattle on the ranch they also have some dryland farm ground on which they raise wheat and milo. The ranch also plants anywhere from 80 to 360 acres of sweet feed along the bottom areas near Rush Creek for winter grazing.
After a long career in the Texas oilfield, Donna Adame came to be a part of the Rush Creek Ranch crew two years ago. We asked what perspective she had as a person that was not directly related to agriculture and how that perspective has changed since she began working at the ranch. Her reply was that she was raised around farming as a young child and always had a deep respect for agriculture. She now has a much deeper understanding and respect for the ranching way of life. She mentioned that she imagined ranching as being more glamorous than it actually is. She now realizes that it is a more fulfilling life than she believed it to be. Donna has realized, and seen firsthand, the amount of care and pride that ranchers put into their livestock from start to finish. She said that people are lacking insight and don’t realize all that goes into ranching; being a rancher is a never-ending lifestyle and ranchers have a multitude of skills that she never realized. She said it is amazing and exciting to be immersed in nature and learn how to understand animals and with that, understand people better.
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