Ochsner lands Star in Ag Placement honoWritten by Saige Albert
Ochsner has worked 10 years on his family ranch, working to develop a strong understanding of Hereford and Angus cattle.
From the Beginning
“I grew up on the ranch,” says Ochsner. “When we got old enough to be in 4-H, I started showing steers.”
Ochsner adds that, along with his sister Katie, he showed cattle and the family ranch transferred their ownership to him. After two years of showing, at age 10, Ochsner says he selected a heifer and started his own herd.
“From there, if I ever showed a bred and owned, they were in my name,” explains Ochsner. “That is how I started my herd.”
He has developed his herd into a 10- to 12-cow Hereford herd, with an additional 10 calves and yearling bulls.
“Any profits from selling a heifer or making money goes to the ranch,” Ochsner says, noting that in the Agricultural Placement category, candidates work for an established business. “Our name is on the pedigree as the owner, but George Ochsner and Sons Ranch is the breeder.”
As a senior in high school, Ochsner has plans to attend college in Casper this fall to study ag business. Following his time in Casper, Ochsner says he will move on to the University of Wyoming or the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
“I’ll go to Casper for a couple of years to livestock judge,” he says. “When I get through college, I’ll come back to the ranch.”
In following the path of his older cousin, Ochsner says he plans to become a partner in the ranch and take ownership in the cattle operation.
The George Ochsner and Sons Ranch runs approximately 66 percent Angus and 33 percent Hereford cattle, and Ochsner notes that he prefers the Herefords for his project.
“The Angus breed is a really strong breed, but I prefer Herefords,” he comments. “They are more docile and easy to recognize with their facial markings, and I think they are prettier. I’ve kept all Herefords for my program.”
A learning experience
With over 10 years working to develop a strong project and herd of Hereford cattle, Ochsner notes that he has learned a number of valuable lessons.
“The biggest thing I have learned is that I understand what’s going on now,” says Ochsner. “When we started, I just did it because my parents told me to and I liked the cattle. Now I understand how important it is to have good genetics.”
For example, Ochsner expands on one learning experience that was a set back for his herd.
“The disease idiopathic epilepsy was discovered to be a recessive allele,” he says. “There’s only a 25 percent chance, but if a calf has it, it ends up being a dead calf.”
After a significant loss in the herd, Ochsner learned about the importance of good genetics.
He continues, “That experience taught me quite a bit about how important it is to stick to good genetics and understand them, and also understand the biology of difference genetics.”
Torrington-Lingle FFA Advisor Jason Groene has advised Ochsner for four years, and he says, “He’s just an awesome kid. He has good work ethic, morals, values and standards. He is what we are looking for and is the ideal FFA kid.”
Groene also mentions that Ochsner has grown over the years, saying, “He was quiet as a freshman. He was always really involved, but now he is taking on a bigger leadership role.”
On top of that, Groene comments that Ochsner has matured into a great young man and leader.
Ochsner has been highly involved in the FFA organization, participating in Livestock Judging, Creed Speaking, Parliamentary Procedure, Meats Judging, Environmental and Natural Resources, Agronomy and Farm Business Management.
He has competed in three of those contests – livestock judging, meats judging and agronomy – at the National Convention and has done very well.
“The young man has been on four state champion teams and this year will go to National Convention for the third time to compete. He has been recognized as high individual in the nation, third high in meats and he won the national 4-H contest,” Groene mentions. “There is not a lot that he hasn’t done.”
Wyoming State Stars
Each year at the Wyoming State FFA Convention, four students are honored as the State Star Farmer, Star in Agricultural Placement, Star in Ag Business and Star in Agri-science.
This year, State Star Farmer went to Ali Ballard of the Casper FFA Chapter. Blake Ochsner of Torrington received the State Star in Agricultural Placement this year for his project working on the family cattle ranch.
Taylor Smock from Pine Bluffs was honored with the State Star in Agri-science, and Reata Brannaman from John B. Kendrick FFA in Sheridan was the State Star in Agribusiness.
After receiving a State Star award, students are eligible to compete at the regional and national level.