LOCAL RANCHER: POLSON, MONTANA

Cattle ranching in Montana Polson, Montana
SMH Cattle Company

For Steve Hughes, cattle ranching is a burning passion. He was raised on his father’s ranches in North Dakota and eastern Montana.  Steve moved to western Montana and started his ranch here using his knowledge and experience to continue that vocation.

In the last three decades, his dedication to his dream has increased the size of his herd to 4,000 black Angus cow/calf pairs grazing on 87,000 acres.  His ranch is outside of Polson, Montana, a stone’s throw from the incredible Glacier National Park.

“We are very different from ranches which operate on flat ground in other regions,” he says. “Our cattle graze in a natural, mountainous environment surrounded by lots of wildlife.”

SMH Cattle Company looks for processes which allow the operation to flourish. From growing their own feed on 4,000 acres of farmland to improving the genetics with their own carefully selected bulls, everything points towards sustainability and high quality.

“We are always looking to improve the health of our herd,” says Steve. “We want to see good, healthy cattle which grade well when we go to market and allows our herd to grow to support us in the future.”

A full-time contingent of cowboys and ranch hands run the operation in the time-honored, traditional fashion. Cowboys round up the cattle, moving them to areas for ranching activities like checking the calves’ welfare and branding. Ranch hands harvest crops during the season to ensure the herd has nutritious feed during the winter when cattle have been moved down from the mountains.

“Our focus on healthy cattle gives better value and quality all the way around,” he says. “It’s better for the ranching environment, it’s better for the area economy and it’s better for the diner who will be enjoying a quality steak.”

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