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M EMBER SPOTLIGHT

By Marilyn Bay Wentz, Editor

FOURTH GENERATION COLORADO FARMER TRANSITIONS TO BISON RANCHING

im Beauprez, a fourth generation Coloradoan who grew up


on a dairy farm, and wife Julie operate Eagles Wing Ranch,
Coalmont, Colo. The young couple is assisted by Jims parents, Bob
and Claudia Beauprez. Bob is a former U.S. congressman for District 7 in Colorado and ran for governor in 2008 and again in 2014.
Dad first started talking to me about his interest in bison
when we were still on the family dairy farm in Lafayette, Colo.,
said Jim. I was in my early teens, but I remember telling Dad that
if we ever got tired of milking cows, I would gladly run a bison
ranch.
Later, the family made the decision to sell the dairy farm. We
all went our separate ways for a few years until one day in 2007,
Mom came across a ranch for sale in the North Park area of Colorado, said Jim. It only took one visit to figure out we found our
home for the bison dream.
Jim and Julie live on the ranch as full-time managers. Bob and
Claudia live in Lafayette, Colo., not far from where the familys
former dairy farm was located. Claudia does all the ranchs bookkeeping as well as the shipping for the bison retail meat operation.
Bob comes to the ranch in the summers to run the baler, fix fences,
work ditches and do whatever else the busy season brings.
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JANUARY l FEBRUARY l MARCH 2016

Idyllic scenes such as this cow watching her calf nap have replaced twice-a-day milking for
Eagles Wing owner/operators Jim & Julie Beauprez, Coalmont, Colo.

stead Act of 1862.


The North Park location provides
the operation with high quality native grasses. Eagles Wing Ranch bison graze flood irrigated meadows
and thrive in the cool mountain air.
Mild summer days and cool
evenings are the perfect recipe for a
high protein Timothy grass stem that
results in a healthy, natural weight
gain for the harvest animals, said
Jim. This same hay is harvested and
fed during the winter. At 8,700 feet
above sea level, we are grateful that
we have the means to harvest our
own hay crop. The harsh winters and
minimal county road access would
make it difficult to get regular feed
deliveries!
At 8,700 feet above sea level, Eagles Wing Ranch is perfect for raising bison and Timothy grass hay.
Retail grass-fed bison meat is
marketed and sold online at www.eagleswingnaturalbison.com. CustomEagles Wing Ranch is a cow/calf operation, raising animals ers can order individual cuts as well as reserve quarters, sides or a
for a grass-fed, retail bison meat operation, Eagles Wing Natural whole carcass. In addition, Jim & Julie own and operate a bison
Bison. They run roughly 150 head of breeding bison, with the jerky business that is also available online at www.beauffalojerky.
numbers swelling to well over 300 total. Animals are harvested in com.
the fall of their second year. Any animals not directly marketed are
As a young producer, Jim observes that bison will find a way
finished and sold to Rocky Mountain Natural Meats.
and advises newcomers to respect the intelligence, strength and
The total ranch acreage is 1,400, with
700 acres dedicated to pasture and hay
meadows. In addition to raising bison,
the Beauprez also produce 1,400 tons
of mountain Timothy grass hay during
the summer for winter bison feed and
retail hay sales. Other than a handful
of chickens, a bulldog and three horses,
which Jim refers to as hay burners, bison are the only livestock.
Although bison ranching is a new
venture for this family, Jim is the fourth
generation to be involved in agriculture.
Prior to dairy farming, previous BeauClaudia and Bob Beauprez are flanked by Julie and Jim Beauprez.
prez generations have raised everything
from Belgian horses, to Red Herefords,
to registered black and white Holsteins. As a dairy farmer, Bob resilience of the animal.
was one of the initial pioneers and proponents of artificial insemiWith bison its not what you do with your fence to keep them
nation and embryo transfer.
happy, but rather what you do within the fence that keeps them
The Beauprez are only the second family to farm and ranch home, said Jim. Our perimeter and pasture fences all have an
at Eagles Wing Ranch, said Jim. The previous ownership can be electric wire on the top, typically at 52 inches. It lays out a stop
traced through the same family all the way back to the U.S. HomeContinued on page 19
BISON WORLD JANUARY l FEBRUARY l MARCH 2016

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Member Spotlight, Continued from page 11


point for them but if they are hungry or thirsty you can bet theres
not a fence that will keep them in.
However, once their basic needs of feed, water and companionship are met, he said bison are easy to care for. Bison thrive on
neglect, so dont feel like you have to be a part of their daily lives.
This is a difficult concept to embrace, especially if you come from
a cattle background. Even during calving season, dont be afraid
to keep your distance while still keeping an eye on their behavior.
The young rancher also advises those considering bison raising
do their research. Join the NBA and get a list of bison producers
in your area. Tour as many bison ranches as you can so you know
what you are getting into. Take a good look at other ranches perimeter and pasture fencing, but most importantly their working
facility, including squeeze chute, tub, alleys, and so on.
Jim is grateful for the great advice he got early on that he still
applies at Eagles Wing Ranch today. In addition, he advises: Expect to make changes to your original game plan because regardless of how many head you start out with, the bison will teach you
how to raise them, not the other way around. Bison have the agility
of a deer, the speed of a quarter horse and the dexterity of a bull
snake. Study and learn from their behavior!
A member since purchasing Eagles Wing Ranch in 2007, Jim

Dont try this at home. . . but if you know your animals, a little playing around is
good.

said he always enjoys attending the NBA Winter Conference, seminars and the Gold Trophy Show & Sale, in which he has exhibited
several years, even winning Rookie of the Year designation in 2011.
(All of these resources are) very informative, and it is always
nice to catch up with familiar faces, said Jim. Also, we see the
quarterly Bison World as a great member benefit; it is read cover to
cover when it comes out.

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