Integrity: It's a way of life
"When my wife Loraine and I founded La Cense Ranch, we made a commitment to put respect for the animals, land, and the environment first. Thanks to our compassionate ranching techniques, La Cense is now the leading producer of wholesome, delicious, heart-healthy grassfed beef." - William Kriegel
At La Cense Montana, our mission is to meet or exceed best management practices for our livestock and natural resources while continuing to produce healthy and nutritious natural beef.
Ranching is an immeasurably complex task, with many variables that are hard if not impossible to control. For that reason, those variables that we are able to control are extremely important in fulfilling our mission.
Grass & Grazing
At La Cense Montana, it all begins with the grass. We are strong proponents of grazing management strategies that use high stocking densities for short durations on both native range ground as well as on the improved and irrigated pastures. We practice management intensive grazing (MIG), which is a comprehensive approach to grazing and land management. In short: by creating small ‘paddocks’ within a larger pasture with portable fencing, our animals move to fresh pasture on a daily basis, which gives livestock access to nutrient-rich feed. Moving to each paddock is followed by appropriate periods of rest, to help maintain the health of the pasture over the long term. The animals learn to follow our ranch hands from paddock to paddock, offering a significant side benefit of of a low stress environment for the animals.
Responsibility: Be a Good Steward of the Land
Speaking of pastures, we are a forage-based operation, which means our cattle are raised out in the pastures and rangeland of southwest Montana. We believe this approach offers significant benefits to the long-term health of the animals, and better fits with our overall program.
Other techniques and policies play a role in land stewardship as well; our managed hunting programs encourage elk not to congregate in smaller areas during the fall, and strategic fencing and other means of control are used to keep cattle from damaging any sensitive riparian areas on the ranch.
Living Among Predators
In no small part due to our proximity to Yellowstone National Park and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, La Cense Montana harbors hundreds of wildlife species on the ranch at any one time, including: elk, moose, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, sage grouse, ducks, geese, rabbits, gophers, snakes, and several trout species.
The ranch is also frequented by a number of predator species including coyotes, wolves, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and foxes. Since well before human history, predators have been pursuing prey.
Align with Nature: Calve Later
At La Cense Montana, we know that these interactions are part of the balance of nature, so we consider it part of our job to cultivate that balance as much as possible.
For example, during the late spring and early summer, we’ve seen a thousand or more elk grazing and calving in our pastures. And it's no suprise that the elk calving areas have historically been targeted heavily by wolves and other predators. By using some common sense and avoiding these pastures during calving, we strive to decrease the number of conflicts between our livestock and these predators.
It’s important to know that most of the actual cost associated with these conflicts is not because of mortality, but rather a lack of performance and efficiency of the livestock due to the stress brought on during an attack. It’s fairly common for cattle that have been stressed by predators to have much higher instances of respiratory disease and other ailments. These illnesses can require treatment with antibiotics, and subsequent removal from our all-natural beef program—which can impact the bottom line.
But of course responsible ranching involves much more than just the bottom line. We believe that it’s critical to follow a management plan that creates a balance between healthy wildlife populations, sustainable ranching, and resource conservation. La Cense Montana continues to work with independent and federal agencies on natural resource and wildlife solutions. It’s our hope that by doing so, we can provide a healthy home for our children, our livestock, and all of the native wildlife species that call our ranch home.