June Rancher Spotlight- Turner Ranch, LLC
If you find yourself twenty miles east of Valentine, Nebraska, then you’ve found yourself at the heart of Lawrence and Sue Turner’s, Turner Ranch, LLC. The ranch also sits 5 miles from the South Dakota border. Lawrence and Sue started renting the place in 1960 and then were able to purchase the home place in 1965. They have been in business at this location for 54 years, and to this day is the only place they have ever ranched!
Through the years they grew the ranch by adding on land that belonged to Lawrence’s paternal and maternal grandparents. Lawrence’s maternal grandparents were original homesteaders of the land. They lived in a sod house and burned cow chips for fuel. (And to think that today some people complain about having to drive past a feed lot- people were definitely tougher back then.) Lawrence says, “We have come a long way since those days. But, it means a lot to me to know that my family has worked and cared for this land for at least 100 years.”
Turner Ranch, LLC is family owned and operated. In addition to Lawrence and his wife Sue, their son Larry and his wife Melissa help with the operation. Larry and Melissa live on what was Lawrence’s parents place at the ranch. The ranch has been in operation for 54 years and their primary operation is a 250 head herd of commercial Hereford cows, where they sell bred heifers and feeder cattle.
Turner Ranch, LLC has Lawrence’s father to thank for today’s endeavors. Lawrence’s father raised Herefords so Lawrence and Sue’s operation is a family tradition. Lawrence bought his first registered Hereford at age 5 from Mr. Harold Harms of Valentine, Nebraska. That’s when Lawrence started showing Herefords in 4-H. That family tradition was also passed on to the Turner’s children who showed Herefords from the family’s registered herd in 4-H, Future Farmer’s of America, and the American Junior Hereford Association across the country.
The ranch switched to more of a commercial operation in the 1980’s, but they continue to use Herefords because, “they are able to withstand the cold winter weather we have in northern Nebraska, they have a more agreeable disposition, and they have the ability to convert roughage to prime beef in the most economical manner”, says Lawrence Turner. In addition, Mr. Turner adds that being from Nebraska they have always been partial to red and white. (Is that like being from Texas and believing that Herefords down here have a more “maroonish” tint to them than red?) Aside from the color, Turner Ranch says the best trait of Hereford cattle are their ability to convert roughage to prime beef. This is important because we have to raise cattle that meet the demands of consumers and still provide a profit for the ranch- today and for the future!
When you ask Mr. Turner what advice he can give and what he has learned from the ranch’s past, he says, “From my years experience, my basic advice is to be a good neighbor and work to get along with your neighbors to the best of your ability. Try to leave the land like the Good Lord made it. That is, be a good steward of the land. Finally, be flexible and adapt your operation based on the markets.” If Mr. Turner could make a point to someone without an agricultural background it would be that, “America’s ranchers and farmers really care about the land and their animals. We are the best stewards of the land and livestock. It is not just a business.” (Which brings up a good point, isn’t it about time we get some ranchers and farmers on the governing committee of the EPA? It seems they might be due for a different perspective!)
That is a fear of the Turner Ranch per Mr. Turner, “My biggest fear is that the environmentalist and animal-rights activists will be able to influence changes in production practices that will make it difficult for us to care for our cattle in an economical manner.” (This writer agrees with you, Sir.) I don’t think you have to look very hard now days to see that there are some government agencies that are operating outside their powers and scope. I hope that the increased trend in government scrutiny continues and allows for broader thinking and interpretation to be considered.
“Owning and operating our ranch has allowed me many opportunities to meet people and discuss the business. For example, in 2007, we had the great experience of promoting beef at the New York State Fair”, says Mr. Turner when asked what his biggest enjoyment from the ranch has been. (I bet there’s a lot of smiles associated with all those show miles.)
If you are looking to get your hands on one of the Turner Ranch’s great replacement heifers or feeder cattle, then you have a couple of opportunities coming up. The first is a special Bred Heifer Internet sale on September 25, 2014 and more information can be found at www.valentinelivestock.net or www.cattleusa.com. At this particular sale, they will have more than 500 bred heifers to sell with more than 200 being Herefords. All cattle were bred to Churchill Sensation, and cleaned up with low birth weight black Angus bulls. They will also be making available this fall through the Valentine Livestock Auction, 250 Hereford steers and 100 Hereford heifers that will weigh approximately 850-900 pounds. Also, the Turner Ranch artificially inseminates a small group of specially selected cows to premium Hereford bulls to sire show steers.
Feel free to reach out to the Turner’s at LSTURNERRANCH@icloud.com for any more information, or to make plans to visit their operation. We appreciate the ranch taking the time to share their story with us for our Rancher Spotlight. All of us at Certified Hereford Beef wish them the very best for the future.
Remember if you have a ranch or would like to nominate a ranch to be considered for the Rancher Spotlight, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.