Helmville Ranching Family Awarded 2022 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award

by Colter Brown

The Mannix Brothers Ranch was named the 2022 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP) winners on June 2, at the Montana Stockgrowers Association MidYear Meeting in Sidney, Montana. Each year, the ESAP award recognizes a Montana ranch that exemplifies environmental stewardship and demonstrates a commitment toward improved sustainability within the beef industry.

“The Mannix family has continued the 140-year tradition of the Mannix Brothers Ranch by diversifying their enterprise, and making decisions to benefit their family, land, and wildlife,” said Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA President. “We are excited to showcase them as our 2022 award winners as a way to showcase how Montana cattle producers benefit the landscape, wildlife, and local communities.”

Operated by the ranch’s board of directors, which includes brothers of the fourth generation, David, Randy, and Brent, their wives Peggy, Mo, and Stacey, and three representatives of the fifth generation, Neil, Bryan and Logan, the Mannix Brothers Ranch includes approximately 50,000 total acres and raises approximately 1,200 mother cows, 900 stockers, and 200 beef cows in Helmville, Montana.

Together, the family manages a diversified ranching business comprising a cow-calf program, stocker program, timber entity, direct-to-consumer grass-finished beef program, and a recently opened restaurant.

“We’ve never thought of ourselves as the true “owners” of this land. Instead, we are stewards of the soil, streams, grass, timber, and wildlife that belong to this ecosystem,” said David Mannix. “The land is the lifeblood of our community, and we strive to be worthy caretakers of those resources that fall under our management.”

The ranch practices intensive rotational grazing on much of the 3,900 acres of irrigated ground where they mostly graze their stocker herd, usually moving cattle every one to four days, and trying to allow adequate rest before returning.

As a result of the intensive rotational grazing on the irrigated ground, the ranch has used less irrigation water and little to no fertilizer, while increasing production on the ground. The ranch is now on their second year of using zero fertilizer on the ground that is used for intensive rotational grazing.

Beginning in 2004, the ranch partnered with the Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited (BBCTU) to improve Wasson Creek, a key fish spawning ground for cutthroat trout coming up from the Blackfoot River.

Their management efforts from 2004 to 2007 resulted in a 14 degrees improvement on the creek, in addition to more water and fish in the stream, which the family and Trout Unlimited considered to be a huge success.

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MSGA

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