Wednesday, October 31, 2012

191 Livestock Company

Today we have a post from Robert Brown and Francine Acord-Brown. Together they raise cattle and performance horses in western Colorado!

191 Livestock Company and 191 Performance Horses. One can tell from the name of the companies, Robert & Francine already wears many hats and has many faces in both the cattle industry and horse world. Robert also has more than a full-time job as a drilling consultant in the oil and natural gas industry.

191 Livestock Company is the Registered Black Angus program (specializing in breeding seed stock genetics that are PAP tested for fitness to thrive in the high altitudes in the Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide). Francine grew up cattle ranching in the high country (winter ground elevation is 8,200 +/-) and she spent all too many years understanding first hand brisket disease, diagnosing it and realizing death loss because of it.

Luckily, Francine’s father is a well respected and progressive commercial cattleman, and Dr. Timothy Holt became an annual winter visitor to test the new bulls he purchased after they had time to acclimate to the high elevation above Yampa, CO before PAP testing became a standard practice by the Seedstock producers. The “PAP test” stands for Pulmonary Arterial Pressure. 191 Livestock PAP score goals are from mid-30’s to low 40’s. Most of our customers are well informed and know what scores work for their altitude. In our market, customers look at PAP score first, then the bull. Their livelihood depends on it. Our goal is to not only have low PAP scores, calving ease AND high $B’s on every single heifer and bull we produce. If we have cattle with a high PAP score, someone in lower elevations can take them and they can still produce the kind of cattle they can feed out and collect the carcass premiums for themselves. The breeding decisions we’ll be making in the next two months will affect the consumers’ plate in 2018. 191 Livestock Company does not take this responsibility lightly.

191 is one of the few breeders that PAP test both heifers and bulls calves. “We AI our cattle, most of the AI sires offered do not have PAP scores”. Certain genetic lines tend to PAP test better, but 191 feels that if we know our heifers, their dam scores and grand dam scores, we can make a more educated guess which sires should cross with our females. But environmental factors also play into it such as a calf born in the cold wherein frostbite gets their ears, calves born backwards and respiratory infections early in their lives all attribute to higher PAP scores which is undesirable, but not genetic. “We can only control and predict so much”. Worst case, if they don’t have a desirable PAP score for the high altitude, they can thrive at a lower altitude and become excellent lifelong producers for those not challenged by high altitude.

191 Performance Horses is the other side of 191. 191 also reining and cow bred horses to compete in Reined Cow Horse/Reining/Versatility Ranch Horse events. The goal of the 191 horse program is to breed, raise, and do the basic training on the babies. Francine has started showing the horses that fit the non-pro program, where in 2012 she has become successful in the show ring. Currently, two trainers assist them and the program is just starting. 191 Performance horses has only been showing horses a total of four years and refocused two years ago on the working cow horse/versatility show pens and have had remarkable success with both the open and non-pro horses.

Many people ask where the “191” comes from. That is “our” Colorado brand. The Acord family has many brands and Francine had her own brand (Stairstep F) prior to meeting and marrying Robert. Both families come from generations and generations of farming and ranching families.

Robert and Francine are late bloomers in Ag coming full circle back to our roots. Robert has had a life long career in the gas and oil business travelling worldwide and offshore to stay in the industry. Francine was a single parent from the time her youngest daughter was 2. Her youngest is now 26 and together, they have 7 grandchildren, who are all fortunate to have their young lives touched by horses and agriculture in varying degrees.

Robert and Francine married in 2009 and within a month of being married, they purchased the first 12 head of Black Angus cattle, and bought several more within a few months. Within a year, they sold all the commercial cattle and purchased an entire herd of Registered Black Angus cattle. They not only bought cattle, they purchased a program, with the intent to not only continue, but to improve the overall program. The previous owners wanted to retire and put their 14 years of expertise into building a program. “It would have taken us at least that to put together a program, so we bought them out instead”.

Neither Robert, nor Francine had ever “owned” their own cattle before. “When we purchased the registered cattle, we picked our very own heifers, named them and halter broke them. Francine took them to a Chef’s trade show to show off “real cattle” at the Vail Marriot for people to actually see and touch real cattle. The live display was a hit, and a challenge that frankly, they were unsure if she could pull it off. Francine had 6 days to halter break, clip, bathe and break to lead and load. We put up four 12 x 12 panels, but nothing solid to tie the panels or the cattle to. She pulled it off and it really hit home not only how good our genetics were, but also their dispositions. It was like your kindergarten kids making you proud. The organizers were impressed and 191 with more notice the second go around, had another great display for 2011.

The Browns built their ranch from scratch, from the calving barns, to livestock pens. Francine has never been happier in the cattle business. Growing up on a large cattle ranch in Yampa, CO, the ranch was “work” and never any time to enjoy life. “Now, we can work cows in less than two hours, weigh them and know everything about each heifer and bulls genetics, and can look up information and genetics like the horse industry.” Francine does all the AI’ing, freeze branding and together they make the day to day decisions. Robert still has a more than full time job. Francine’s job with the cows allows her the freedom to pursue her lifelong dreams in the horse industry also. There is nothing like “loving life” every single day, and getting to do what you always wanted to do!

There is no typical day on our ranch. Since we are in the registered business with both our cattle and horses, we do everything at least 30-60 days earlier than the rest of the ranchers in the area. We calve in January, foal in February. We wean the end of August, while most ranchers are still gathering into October. It’s so nice to have small numbers, super quality in both the cattle and horses and still enjoy life. We both love to boat on Lake Powell and spend time with our families (three sets of parents and grandkids). We have three 6 year olds, two 4 year olds and a 2.5 year old and baby. They are all close in age and like most of the same things, although the closest family is 2.5 hours away, the other two families in Wyoming are 5 hours drive in two separate directions.

The Brown’s are enjoying life together and love the life they’ve built as a couple in recent years. If nothing else, we are proof that dreams do come true, both relationship-wise and feel blessed they have made the life together they enjoy with the cattle and horses. We want our grandchildren and the next generation to know where their food comes from and how to be self sufficient and to never give up on finding that balance in life. Drought years bring realization that sometimes we all need to buckle down, make tough decisions and press on. Tough times never last, but tough people do.

191 Livestock Company/191 Performance Horses
Rulison, Colorado (Western Colorado)
Robert Brown & Francine Acord-Brown

Thank you Robert and Francine for a great feature!!! Please visit their websites and and Facebook pages 191 Livestock Company and 191 Performance Horses to keep up with whats going on at the ranch!

Are you proud of your farm or ranch? Tell us about it! You could be the next feature! Please contact us today!