Building and improving:Hepworths set high goals, work for the future
Auburn – Tyson Hepworth and his wife Stephanie are raising three children while operating a registered Angus operation.
“We’ve been playing around with it in the last couple of years,” comments Tyson of their operation. “We actually started out as a dairy.”
When his great-grandfather started the operation following the Depression, he chose to start a dairy, which ran until 1992.
His grandfather began to turn over the operation in 1992, and Tyson notes that his father switched to a beef cattle operation to make it feasible to continue to work in town, as well as operate a farm.
In dispersing the dairy, Hepworth notes they started a small herd on commercial beef – an endeavor that transformed into a registered Angus ranch in the last 10 years.
“About seven years ago, I came back to the ranch after college and thought we could get a better value out of running registered livestock,” Tyson explains. “I like taking data, putting it together and seeing how we’re running.”
“We start feeding hay about the first of November, because there is usually snow on the ground,” he notes. “We feed from then until the first of June, when we kick out on pasture.”
To facilitate the long feeding season, he adds that the majority of their land goes into producing hay.
“We do quite a lot as far as feeding hay is concerned,” Tyson explains, “because we have too much winter. We feed longer than we are out on grass.”
Unlike many operations in Lincoln County, Tyson notes that they don’t have any rangeland to run their cattle on, and rather, the Hepworths operate on pastures in the foothills and in the floor of the valley.
Beginning in September, they round up the cattle and begin to sort the bull calves. Those that don’t make the cut are castrated and weaned.
“When we are selecting animals, we start out with the feet and legs,” explains Tyson. “If they don’t have feet and leg structure to carry themselves, it doesn’t matter what their genetics look like – they can’t get where they need to and get the job done.”
After considering phenotype – feet, legs, size and growth – he adds that they look at the genetic data, including birth weights, weaning weight and yearling weight.
“After we wean, we start getting ready to sell our females in the fall, and we start to get the bulls ready,” he continues. “We send our bulls to a feedlot in Mannan, Idaho, and that works well for us.”
He adds that they will continue to send bulls to be developed in the feedlot, prior to their bull sales.
Since beginning the operation, Tyson hasn’t been afraid to make changes to meet their needs.
“When we started out, we were calving in March and April, and we just weren’t meeting the marketing times for our bulls,” comments Tyson. “We didn’t have the size we wanted, so we moved our dates up.”
Today, they calve beginning the first of February to achieve the ideal animal for the operation.
While currently they don’t have a commercial sector of the operation, Tyson says it’s something they are working to develop.
“We did start in with a few Herefords last year,” he says. “We lease a small herd of Hereford calves, and we have moved into the breed for the extra marketing ability and for the good cross that Herefords make.”
With some of the cattle they cull from the operation for genetic reasons, he says they have started a small commercial herd.
As a young operator, Tyson notes that they have big plans for the future.
“We are hoping to eventually have our own production sale,” he says. “We’d like to market our bulls and keep growing.”
He also adds they would like to look into an embryo program and to continue moving forward with their commercial herd.
With plans to continue improving the operation, Tyson mentions he enjoys ranching and hopes to continue working with his family for as long as they can.
“I’ve always wanted to be at home and to work with my family,” says Tyson of why he returned to the ranch, adding he also enjoys meeting people through the seedstock end of their operation.
But at the heart, Hepworth’s Angus, LLC is a family operation, with his parents, Hal and Dixie, and his three children, Cashlee, Oaklee and Porter, helping.
“Dad and Mom do a lot to help out, because I am gone a lot,” notes Tyson.
Aside from running the cattle herd, he also drives a semi truck.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and my dad grew up in the house I live in now,” he says. “I like to be at home, around my family and working as a family.”