Continuing tradition

Another generation of Gerbers running 5 Bar Angus Ranch

Advertisement

On June 15, 1920 Ernest Gerber filed his homestead claim on land he'd been working for five years, and a family tradition of cattle ranching was born.

Ernest's son, John Gerber, passed the tradition down to his children, Eldon and Jim Gerber, who ran crossbred commercial cattle on their ranch west of Craig for many years.

Now a new generation of Gerbers, who grew up on the ranch, have added a twist to the family cattle ranch.

Aric and Stacy frequently enter purebred Registered Angus in events at the Moffat County Fair.

During a show in the mid-1980s, the siblings made a decision not to sell off their cattle when the fair ended.

"Aric and I kept our replacement heifers from our 4-H projects and built a herd," Stacy Gray said.

The herd that was started by 4-H projects continues to grow today.

For the past month, it's been calving time at the 5 Bar Angus Ranch. Things have been busy, and the brother-and-sister team are worn out, they said.

"We're all a little tired," Stacy said. "We had four or five calves last night. We've all been helping out all night."

Aric Gerber said the cattle are kept near the ranch in the winter, and the pregnant cows are positioned in the barn before giving birth.

A smile crosses his face when asked about the sleep he has had in the last few weeks.

"I think I had a couple of hours last night, maybe," he said.

He said the cows usually handle the birthing procedure pretty well on their own, but someone still needs to be there.

The calving time of year lasts about 60 days on the ranch, and by spring, Aric and Stacy expect to have about 90 new animals to care for.

Aric said the calves all are products of artificial insemination and the ranch usually experiences calving earlier than other area ranches. That gives their bulls an advantage at spring bull sales.

"That's my job, too," Aric said about the AI process. "I check them two or three times a day to see which are in heat, and then I artificially inseminate them."

In about 285 days, the results of his work back in April are realized, as the new Angus calves enter the world.

A lot of studying goes into the ranch's calf production. There is research into animal genetics and pedigrees. Catalogs are inspected, books are read and Internet articles reviewed.

Stacy said the pedigree studies also lead them to decide which animals will be kept to grow the herd and which will be sold at auction or by private treaty.

"It depends on the market, how many calves we sell in the fall," she said. "We keep their lines and pedigrees on the computer. Each cow has its own production record."

The cattle are all registered with the American Angus Association.

Aric and Stacy agree Angus is a good breed for Colorado.

"We just went shopping one day. Dad had a lot to do with it," Stacy said. "It's a good breed to get into. There weren't a lot in the country back then, and we thought it would be a good breed to build up a herd."

In 2002 Eldon sold the commercial herd when it was so dry they couldn't get any hay.

The summer of 2006 also was a trying time for finding hay, but the ranch made purchases early enough to avoid some of the price jumps caused by a continuing drought in Northwest Colorado.

As calving operations wrap up in the spring, there still is no rest for the weary ranchers.

Last year's calves need preparing before they are offered for sale at the annual spring bull sales.

"Right away, it's into spring work," Aric said. "It's branding, tattooing and tagging. They need vaccinations. Anybody that comes over in mid-April, friends and family, we put them to work."

The young bulls face a battery of tests and examinations to make sure they are fertile and ready to be turned out. They will be clipped and the carcass ultra-sound tested for measurements and traits including marbling of the rib-eye meat.

Aric said they currently are building the herd and, therefore, keeping many of the heifers born on the ranch.

They have decided to stick strictly to Angus on the ranch, because there is little time for anything else, Aric said.

The 5 Bar Angus bulls are sold primarily at bull sales and the females at auction in eastern Colorado.

The brother and sister team both take part-time jobs in the summer with the Bureau of Land Management, until the herd needs their full attention again in the fall.

Stacy and her husband, Adrian Gray, are parents to the next generation of Moffat County cattle ranchers, as three year-old Torin is now helping around the ranch.

Work around the ranch continues, as it has for generations on the 5 Bar, a brand known to old timers for its history near Blue Mountain.

There occasionally is time in this business to rest a bit, Stacy said. Usually, that happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.