Local cattlemen receive Rancher of the Year Award from SRM

By Maxine Deeter

Shawn and Tyler Ivins, operators of the Broken I Ranch headquartered in Blanding, were the recipients of the Utah Section of the Society of Range Management’s (SRM) Rancher of the Year Award at their annual meeting November 2. 
They were nominated by Christina Tinsley of the Forest Service. 
Tinsley’s nomination narrative included this explanation: “(The Ivins) run on the Camp Jackson Allotment on the Manti La Sal National Forest, Monticello Ranger District.
“Their allotment is challenging! The upper pasture is extremely steep, high elevation and covered with thick trees and brush, making fence construction and maintenance expensive and difficult.
“To make matters worse, they are backed by the culinary watershed, a cow’s dream pasture with lush grass and water in plentiful supply.”
Tinsley continues, “When given the task to keep cows off the watershed once and for all, they not only came up with a plan, but started the process before our next meeting was even scheduled.
“To my knowledge, the Broken I Ranch was the first ranching operation to use virtual fencing on public lands in the state of Utah, on both BLM and USFS.
“They are successfully using new innovations as a livestock management tool. So far, virtual fencing is working better than traditional fencing ever has in this area.
“They took a chance with a new technology to find a fix for an age-old problem. They should be commended for their efforts in range land management as they are setting the standard for the future of ranching.”
The second day of the SRM meeting, the Ivins joined Justus and Lowry Redd of La Livestock and Luis Trevizo of BLT Cattle, both headquartered in La Sal, in giving a presentation on virtual fencing. 
The La Sal Ranchers have also utilized this new method of controlling cattle.  Think of a dog shock collar on a mega scale. 
Though the initial and even ongoing costs of collaring the cattle and positioning the communication towers can seem expensive, when considered against the cost of fencing which exceeds $25,000 per mile, it is still a good investment. 
Though it still requires days in the saddle managing livestock, there are far fewer of those days.  (Shawn and Tyler said to just ask their wives.)
And, as with most things these days, a phone app is utilized to adjust boundaries and keep track of the cattle.  Each cow can actually be identified on a phone by their unique identification.
Although there are still many bugs to work out and shortcomings in the system, (Shawn and Tyler refer to themselves as in the field researchers) it’s a system whose time has come.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday