Chico Basin Ranch

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about CHICO BASIN RANCH

The Chico is an 87,000 acre cattle ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado. Its sprawling ranges of short grass and sandsage prairie, spring-fed lakes, and creeks are home to diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, prairie dogs, coyote, badgers, and much more. Owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Ranchlands, the Chico also offers education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts, and hospitality programs.

February 9, 2018

Our Cattle Management Practices

At Ranchlands, our cattle program is based on “survival of the fittest.” The ones that raise a good calf every year and breed back are the cattle that make it. We look at a cow’s conformation, fertility, hardiness, disposition, weight, and milk production, but we don’t select for color. Color is not important to our way of thinking. We are in the business of breeding animals that can live, reproduce, and raise a calf in their natural environment. We’ve been managing our herd of Beefmaster-bred cows this way for 15 years, and the result is a herd that is well adapted to it’s environment.

February 7, 2018

An Apprentice’s Story

Nick Baefsky started an apprenticeship on Chico Basin Ranch six years ago, in the fall of 2012. Today he and his wife Amy, another Ranchlands apprenticeship graduate, manage a ranch in New Mexico with the help of three young interns and apprentices. They fix old generators, prop up fences, uncover and splice lines of ancient poly pipe. They gather big brushy pastures by waiting until late in the day when the cows come into water. They keep lists of the vehicles, generators and equipment that needs to be repaired, the pastures that need to be prepared for cattle, the pipeline leaks that need to be fixed. They keep precipitation records and grazing charts that they use to estimate how they’ll move the cattle herds across the ranch through the year.

January 2, 2018

“The Next Generation of Conservation Ranchers”

Duke Phillips could have been a “normal” rancher. Raised in northern Mexico in a second-generation ranching family, he came of age in a world where cowboys shot coyotes to protect their calves, ranches were grazed in their entirety year-round, and cattlemen were just that–men who raised cattle. The rancher-conservationist had yet to emerge. While the tide has been changing in recent years, with more and more farmers and ranchers embracing their role as land stewards, perhaps Phillips’ most radical act has been not just to join this growing group of agricultural conservationists, but, since the very beginning, to throw the doors open and invite others to observe and participate in the project for sustainable ranching.

November 10, 2017

Circumpolar Species

Of the four species of longspur, Lapland Longspur is the most abundant with a worldwide population estimated at 150,000,000 breeding over a large circumpolar range.  On the Chico, they are seen on occasion in November into early December if you walk in shortgrass prairie and get lucky. Like all longspurs, their hind toe is elongated as implied in their scientific name, Calcarius laponnicus, Calarius from Latin calcar, or spur, referring to their very long hind toe.  In summer they are beautiful birds, but like the other longspur species, they are dull-colored during winter months and unlike many songbirds who molt to obtain a breeding plumage, longspurs obtain their breeding plumage by a slow wearing of their feather tips.

October 19, 2017

Double-crested Cormorants

Named for head feathers appearing during breeding season, Double-crested Cormorants were adversely affected after WWII when the use of DDT was permissible as a pesticide.

October 16, 2017

Broad-winged Hawk

Usually a secretive eastern forest species, at least three Broad-winged Hawks were observed the first week of October on Chico Basin Ranch.