The Rafter H Ranch—A Balanced Western Cattle Ranch For Sale
In order to be successful, Western cattle ranches must have a combination of assets that utilize the natural features of the Western landscape. The ideal combination is a “home place” ranch with a good set of improvements, including a quality home, hay barn, shop building, and corrals; irrigated hay meadows for hay production; transitional lands for spring and fall grazing; high-elevation summer grazing lands; and a place to winter the cows. Those ranches with that combination of assets are very rare, but the Rafter H Ranch has all of those assets and more. It is a picture-perfect example of a balanced ranch.
Collbran, CO cattle ranch for sale with USFS and BLM grazing permits
The Rafter H ranch is comprised of several different land assets.
- Home place at 6,200 feet in elevation, Collbran, CO—138 ac +/-. The home ranch has 100 acres of gravity-irrigated land with a #1 priority water right. Irrigation improvements include 3 sideroll sprinklers, 2 center pivot sprinklers, and 7 big gun sprinklers. The property averages about 350 tons a year in hay production.
- Transitional grazing land at 7,200 feet elevation, Highway 330 and Brush Creek Road, Collbran, 106 ac +/-. This property is also gravity irrigated and produces an outstanding hay crop. It has two sideroll sprinklers and is ideally located for spring and fall grazing. The property is an ideal distance from the home place, as the rancher moves the cows up the highway by an old-fashioned cattle drive. Just when the cows are starting to get tired, they arrive at the upper place. Once they graze there and rest anywhere from a day or two to a month or more, it is a short cattle drive up the road past Vega Reservoir to the USFS grazing permit. The 106-acre tract is fenced and cross-fenced, with a flat site for corrals and working, 2 sideroll sprinklers, late reservoir water, and 2 ponds.
- 421-head USFS summer grazing permit is on the north slope of the Grand Mesa. It is a vast permit with only one other permittee. The dates of the permit are July 1 through October 5.
- 286-head BLM winter grazing permit 11/01-05/10 east of Thompson Springs, Utah. Property is currently being used to graze 340 head 12/01-05/10 annually–a shorter time period, but more cattle.
- 40 acres of rangeland adjoining winter allotment bordering Thompson Springs, Utah. This property adjoins Thompson Springs, which is experiencing residential development as workers in Moab are unable to find housing. The property adjoins a rail spur and has been approved for a rail siding.
Improvements on the Rafter H Ranch—Colorado cattle ranch for sale
The cattle ranch has a very nice set of improvements and there is very little deferred maintenance or upkeep on the property. The home is a very well-built Southwestern-style stucco home with a total of 5,880 square feet, which includes the 3-car garage and RV garage slot. The home is very spacious, with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, sunroom, and outdoor natural gas grill on a covered patio. The property has 2 water wells and year-round stock water. It has a very nice deep pond stocked with chunky brook trout that average well over a pound. The grounds are neatly manicured and surrounded by 3-rail lodgepole fencing. The cross fencing on the ranch Is new and excellent. Corrals are neatly organized and built of railroad ties and guardrail, with new squeeze chutes and automatic waterers. Outbuildings include a red-iron 75’x100’ hay barn, a newer 40’x80’ Quonset shop building with oversize door and concrete floor, and 3 loafing sheds. The hay barn has an 8100-KW solar system that provides ample electricity for the home place.
The seasonal schedule for a well-balanced Western cattle ranch for sale
The Rafter H Ranch is configured so that it can be easily run by one rancher with occasional help. Let’s start the season on May 1, about the time that irrigation season begins on the home property of 138 acres. With the water coming on, it’s time to start growing hay. There is an excellent cow pasture in the middle of the ranch that has natural grazing and a small stream flowing through it to water the cows. The rancher uses it mainly for replacement heifers, because the balance of the herd is still on winter range in the Utah desert. In mid-May, the rancher begins gathering the mother cows and new calves off the range in Utah. The ranch has a very good Kenworth semi and “cow pot” cattle trailer to haul the animals home to Colorado. He does not assist the cows through the calving season, acknowledging that there will be some losses. However, he does not have to feed through the entire winter, which is a huge bonus.
Once the cows are home, they are driven up to the 106-acre high pasture, where they can be held until it’s time to drive them up to the grazing permit on the Grand Mesa. It’s an easy day for the cows to head up to the high country, and the permit is one of the best in Western Colorado. The cows spend the summer on the range, tended by a range rider, while the rancher grows hay on the home place and the upper pasture. In October, it’s time to gather the cows and bring them down the mountain. The upper pasture is ideally situated, in that the cows come down the mountain and it’s the first place they arrive at. Usually there’s at least a month’s feed there, and then eventually they come back to the home place. Around the first of December, the cows are trucked down to the winter range in Utah, where they graze until the cycle begins again in mid-May. Of course, branding, preg checking, and other functions are mixed in, but you get the picture.
Complete set of equipment and cows available for purchase with the Rafter H Ranch
The ranch is available for purchase in two scenarios—either just the real estate assets with grazing permits, or with the cattle and equipment. The cows are a premium herd of high-elevation cattle bred by PAP-tested bulls. The rancher has been using PAP-tested bulls for over 40 years, so these cattle do not contract brisket disease and have difficulty breathing at high elevation. Over 30% of the herd is three years old or younger. The cows know the range and the yearly schedule and are used to the terrain. It makes ultimate sense for the new buyer to purchase the cows, as it would cause chaos and difficulty to bring a new herd onto the range. Cattle assets (2020 calf crop belongs to the seller):
- 426 head of cattle, give or take, depending on seasonal losses
- 355 bred cows
- 52 replacement heifers
- 19 bulls
The ranch has an excellent set of quality equipment, much of it either brand-new or with low mileage and excellent maintenance. A complete equipment list is available, but a short list includes tractors, balers, rotary mower, hay rake, tub grinders, portable corral system, portable loading chute, bale hauler, manure spreader, backhoe, bulldozer, 1999 Kenworth T-800, Wilson 48’ cattle trailer, 48’ step-deck trailer, F350 ranch truck, 2,000-gallon fuel tank, dump truck, and much more. The ranch real estate and permits is offered at $4,200,000, or with cattle and equipment, $5,200,000.