By Tawnya Plain Eagle
This past spring Piikani Nation CY Ranch added an additional 3500 acres of grazing land north of the Hay Lease as part of a four-year expansion plan.
“We don’t want our operation to interfere with anyone else’s ranching operation, as some like to breed earlier,” CY Ranch manager Murray Yellow Horn said.
This newly fenced area referred to as, Iron Springs, was seen by the Piikani Nation as a requirement for advancement.
In 2015 the Piikani Nation sold 250 head of cows, roughly half of the livestock at CY Ranch, to offset cost for the new hockey arena.
This left the ranch with only 279 cows and bred heifers, 160 acres of irrigated hay and 430 acres of dryland hay.
Employers were left wondering if the ranch could solely sustain itself as a cow operation.
Yellow Horn believes the 2017 expansion plan was the solution to growing the heard.
In 2016 the stakeholders along with the assistance of Piikani Resource Development Ltd had developed an expansion plan to be implemented over the course of four years.
This plan included the expansion of livestock, upgrading current pastures, installing a water system and purchasing new machinery for forage and crop farming.
“We need cultivate and reseed hay fields to ensure the green feed is maintained to standard,” Yellow Horn said.
The first year of the expansion plan, CY Ranch reseeded 240 acres of old and depleted hay fields, the following year, an additional 120 acres were reseeded.
In the third year 82 acres were reseeded and an additional 210 acres were seeded on a crop share basis with a cover crop.
These acres will allow the Ranch to increase the feed supply so it could ultimately prepare for the growth to 800 cows.
“The ranch currently has 575 cows which is about 70 per cent to our goal of 800,” Yellow Horn said.
CY Ranch is currently operating at capacity described in the expansion plan.