57237 Highway 330, Collbran, Colorado, 81624
In order to be successful, Western cattle ranches must have a combination of assets that utilize the natural features of the Western landscape. The ideal combination is a “home place” ranch with a good set of improvements, including a quality home, hay barn, shop building, and corrals; irrigated hay meadows for hay production; transitional lands for spring and fall grazing; high-elevation summer grazing lands; and a place to winter the cows. Those ranches with that combination of assets are very rare, but the Rafter H Ranch has all of those assets and more. It is a picture-perfect example of a balanced ranch. 290 deeded home acres in an easy transition point below summer grazing. The summer grazing permit on the north side of the Grand Mesa encompasses 11,979 acres, as well as 13.96% interest of 160 acres of private land near that national forest permit. The winter grazing permit totals 32,573 acres. In total, the assets combined provide the perfect winter, transitional, and summer grazing land for the herd of cattle run by the ranch.
The cattle ranch has a very nice set of improvements and there is very little deferred maintenance or upkeep on the property. The home is a very well-built Southwestern-style stucco home with a total of 5,880 square feet, which includes the 3-car garage and RV garage slot. The home is very spacious, with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, sunroom, and outdoor natural gas grill on a covered patio. The property has 2 water wells and year-round stock water. It has a very nice deep pond stocked with chunky brook trout that average well over a pound. The grounds are neatly manicured and surrounded by 3-rail lodgepole fencing. The cross fencing on the ranch Is new and excellent. Corrals are neatly organized and built of railroad ties and guardrail, with new squeeze chutes and automatic waterers. Outbuildings include a red-iron 75’x100’ hay barn, a newer 40’x80’ Quonset shop building with oversize door and concrete floor, and 3 loafing sheds. The hay barn has an 8100-KW solar system that provides ample electricity for the home place.
The Rafter H Ranch is configured so that it can be easily run by one rancher with occasional help. Let’s start the season on May 1, about the time that irrigation season begins on the home property of 138 acres. With the water coming on, it’s time to start growing hay. There is an excellent cow pasture in the middle of the ranch that has natural grazing and a small stream flowing through it to water the cows. The rancher uses it mainly for replacement heifers, because the balance of the herd is still on winter range in the Utah desert. In mid-May, the rancher begins gathering the mother cows and new calves off the range in Utah. The ranch has a very good Kenworth semi and “cow pot” cattle trailer to haul the animals home to Colorado. He does not assist the cows through the calving season, acknowledging that there will be some losses. However, he does not have to feed through the entire winter, which is a huge bonus.
Once the cows are home, they are driven up to the 106-acre high pasture, where they can be held until it’s time to drive them up to the grazing permit on the Grand Mesa. It’s an easy day for the cows to head up to the high country, and the permit is one of the best in Western Colorado. The cows spend the summer on the range, tended by a range rider, while the rancher grows hay on the home place and the upper pasture. In October, it’s time to gather the cows and bring them down the mountain. The upper pasture is ideally situated, in that the cows come down the mountain and it’s the first place they arrive at. Usually there’s at least a month’s feed there, and then eventually they come back to the home place. Around the first of December, the cows are trucked down to the winter range in Utah, where they graze until the cycle begins again in mid-May. Of course, branding, preg checking, and other functions are mixed in, but you get the picture.
The ranch is available for purchase in two scenarios—either just the real estate assets with grazing permits, or with the cattle and equipment. The cows are a premium herd of high-elevation cattle bred by PAP-tested bulls. The rancher has been using PAP-tested bulls for over 40 years, so these cattle do not contract brisket disease and have difficulty breathing at high elevation. Over 30% of the herd is three years old or younger. The cows know the range and the yearly schedule and are used to the terrain. It makes ultimate sense for the new buyer to purchase the cows, as it would cause chaos and difficulty to bring a new herd onto the range. Cattle assets (2020 calf crop belongs to the seller):
The ranch has an excellent set of quality equipment, much of it either brand-new or with low mileage and excellent maintenance. A complete equipment list is available, but a short list includes tractors, balers, rotary mower, hay rake, tub grinders, portable corral system, portable loading chute, bale hauler, manure spreader, backhoe, bulldozer, 1999 Kenworth T-800, Wilson 48’ cattle trailer, 48’ step-deck trailer, F350 ranch truck, 2,000-gallon fuel tank, dump truck, and much more. The ranch real estate and permits is offered at $3,950,000, or with cattle and equipment, $4,950,000.
Collbran, Colorado, is beautifully situated for mountain recreation. The area is well known for excellent big game hunting for elk and mule deer in GMU 421, and Powderhorn Ski Area, a small family ski area, is less than half an hour away. The Grand Mesa, with its 500 square miles of National Forest lands and 300 lakes and reservoirs, is just to the south, where the ranch has a vast grazing permit. The fishing in these lakes can be outstanding, and Vega Reservoir, a large recreational lake, is very close by. Snowmobiling on the Grand Mesa is simply outstanding, with many miles of trails in a beautiful alpine setting.
For the investor who has always dreamed about a Colorado cattle ranch, the Rafter H Ranch is an excellent choice. It is set up for one man to run with occasional help, such as driving cattle up to the high country. Most of the yearly duties of haying, irrigating, fencing, and checking cows can be handled by one good ranch hand. It is the type of property that an investor can purchase and, with the hiring of the right manager, can turn a profit and provide both income and great personal satisfaction. Many times a ranch will be advertised as "turn-key". However, few ranches are truly turn-key like this one. It has every asset in place to be successful.