JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — Pam Detering wants to make her life as easy as possible. Having worked as a one-person cattle operation, she relies on her dog and technology to keep Rock’n D Ranch going.
The family-operated ranch has been selling Black Angus beef for over 50 years. When Detering joined her husband’s operation, he focused on the farm and she focused on the cattle. Recently she’s partnered with Heather and Donald Fleckenstein of Dynamite Farms, who market their bulls with her.“If you’re going to be a one person farm, you need to make it easy on yourself,” she said.
The mission of Rock’n D Ranch is to provide genetics for people to raise Certified Angus Beef, known as CAB. She said when someone goes to a grocery store and buys CAB meat, it’s guaranteed to be good because of how difficult it is to be registered as certified. She sends her steers to Beef Northwest, which finishes them and sells them to Tyson, where they enter the CAB pipeline.
“If we’re going to raise meat, let’s make it the best we can,” she said. “I always encourage (the CAB route), but there is a risk involved.”
Detering grew up in the cattle world. Even though ranching is second nature to her, there have been shifts she’s made to make the farm more efficient through irrigation methods, haylage and rotational grazing.
“It changed everything,” she said. “It all fits together.”
She feeds haylage during the winter and uses the straw from grass seed for bedding that can later be used for compost. She also intensely rotationally grazes to keep the grass fresh every day; she grazes 100 pair on 125 acres. Her pasture has been in production for 40 years, and the gains on her bulls are 3.5 pounds a day.
Her biggest challenge is timing. She weans her cows in fall, calving begins the first of January and breeding starts at the end of March. She said the strategy doesn’t work for everyone, but her bulls are bigger and over a year old when she sells them.
Rock’n D Ranch hosts its own sale. Detering doesn’t call it an auction because it’s not as high pressure. She said her bulls average $3,400.
Another accomplishment that has made Detering’s life easier is the corral that Danny Menenes, a dairy farmer in California, built for her. With 57 gates and an octagonal pen, she said that with the help of her dog she can sort 100 head of cattle in less than five minutes.
“No one else has one like it; it’s unique,” she said. “This makes my life really cool and my job a joy to do.”
It’s important for Detering to stay involved. She said she learns new things every day, especially with technological advancements moving quickly. She is also part of local grazing groups, which have helped her solve problems.
“I think about it all night long, what I am going to do the next day,” she said. “This is my passion. This is what I do, what I’ve always done.”