OCCA Convention activities continued Saturday morning with a complimentary continental breakfast at Triangle Serum. At 9 o’clock, a seemingly endless stream of cars, SUVs, pickup trucks and a stretch limo headed northwest for the ranch tour which racked up nearly 100 miles. As the caravan traveled on the graveled roads, the dust generated created a mini-version of the panhandle dust storm with driving visibility zero at several points along the route. When the dust did settle, the beauty of the Osage far outweighed the inconvenience created by the dust walls.
All five ranches ranch showcased the best of their stockers and cow calf pairs and explained methods used for their care. First up was the 3P Cattle Company featuring Corrientes Crossbred first-calf heifers with Spring-born "Balancer" calves. Bobby Payne was the host. Stop 2 was the Gray G Ranch, hosted by Dr. Scott Gray.
Corralled were commercial Angus first-calf heifers with Spring-born Angus sired calves from artificial insemination. Stop 3 was the Bow Tie Ranch and featured Angus cross yearling steers. Hosts were Cody and Megan Collom.
Lee and Kathy Briggs of the K & L Cattle Company hosted Stop 4 which showcased commercial Angus cows with fall-born Hereford sired calves. The final stop was at the Reed Bros. Ranch where Taylor and Spencer Reed showed crossbred yearling steers.
The Reed Ranch has also been known for its abundance of prairie chicken leks or booming grounds. For generations the Reed family has documented ten separate leks and have kept records on the numbers each site attracts. Last year, the Reeds hosted bird watchers from across the U.S. to study the mating season of leks in an area northwest of the ranch tour.
Host Taylor Reed mentioned the prairie chickens and his concern about their survival on his family’s ranch.
"The mating season for prairie chickens is usually in April," said Reed. "This year they were not here. We think its caused by a lot of different factors, such as the increased activity due to oil production, installation of power lines, as well as the drought we have been having for a couple of years."
Reed described the birds as unique and how much people enjoy watching the males drum their feet in stylized dances and making a booming call that can be heard a mile away.
"There is no other bird like them in the world. I’ve been told these birds are 50 times more sensitive to disturbances than humans," said Reed. "It’s been really hard on these birds to survive in recent years. Our numbers have been going down for the past couple of years."