Boys ranging in age from 9 to 20 years have learned a lot about cattle management thanks to their new cow/calf pairs.
Boys ranging in age from 9 to 20 years have learned a lot about cattle management thanks to their new cow/calf pairs.
By Wendy Sweeter

A year and a half after receiving five registered Hereford cow/calf pairs through the South Dakota Farm Bureau’s Centennial Community Initiative the boys at McCrossan Boys Ranch are learning a lot about beef production.
The McCrossan Boys Ranch is a private non-profit organization that reaches out to troubled boys who have experienced conflict in their lives. By working on values, goals, education and life skills the staff at McCrossan prepare the boys to live a balanced life outside the ranch.
The cattle made available through South Dakota Farm Bureau is helping to achieve that.
Boys ranging in age from 9 to 20 years old have learned a lot about management, says Troy Geis, director of admissions and equine services at the ranch located north of Sioux Falls, S.D. He has taught the boys about running the numbers and nutrition.
“There’s a few of them that have hopes and dreams of having their own ranch someday, but we want them to pencil it out and make them understand it takes a long time,” Geis says.
The calves that came with the cows were three bulls and two heifers.
They kept the heifers back and sold the steers. Last year they borrowed a bull to breed their cows and ended up with four bull calves and a heifer.
This year they AI’d everything and used a cleanup bull. Geis is anxious to see what they produce this April and May and hopes for more heifer calves to grow the herd.
“We’ll see how good of a job we did. I grew up with cattle, but we never AI’d so this was a learning process for me,” Geis says.
 The boys helped with the AI’ing process. In the past, boys at the ranch have only bottle fed some Holstein calves and taken care of draft and saddle horses and sheep.
“We hadn’t had cattle for probably 30 years. We did a few bottle calves in there,” he said.
Christy Menning, director of development for the ranch, says South Dakota Farm Bureau was helpful in getting a beef cattle herd established at the ranch for at-risk youth. They continue to receive support from them, as well as the South Dakota Hereford Association.
One of the boys showed the animals at the Sioux Empire Fair’s open beef show. The Johnson family from Centerville, S.D., has been helpful in teaching them how to prepare animals for show and how to show them.
“They spent a lot of time with that, getting us started. And the Simmermon family have been helping us and teaching the boys,” Geis says.
Besides the heifer they showed at the Sioux Empire Fair, they
registered two steers that they plan to have on the state Hereford association’s October sale.
Geis’ goal for their Hereford herd is to continue to grow.
“We want to continue with the registered herd for the near future. We want to get that bigger,” he says.