You won’t find many bears around Palisade, Nebraska. You probably won’t find many mountains either. You will however find the Stoller family and Bear Mountain Angus.
While many ranchers could never imagine packing up and relocating their entire operation, that’s exactly what registered Angus cattlemen, Brian and Tiffany Stoller did.
The foothills near Angels Camp, California is where Stoller first began his herd. “It all started from a 4-H project,” Stoller said. “Dad bought my brother and I each an Angus heifer and it took off from there.” Stoller grew his herd to 100 mother cows and took on the name Bear Mountain Angus Ranch from the nearby landmark. He downsized his herd to attend college, and in 2001 an opportunity arose and Bear Mountain Angus relocated to Melba, Idaho with the purchase of Foote Acres Angus ranch. There the herd grew to approximately 500 mother cows. While business at the ranch was good, the location wasn’t the best. Boise and other surrounding towns were growing and the 45 minutes that once separated Bear Mountain from the city was being snatched up for development. “We didn’t plan on selling that place when we bought it, at least not until many years down the road,” Stoller said. “We thought we had years before we’d have to worry about the development, but then suddenly we had only a matter of months.”
Stoller got the word out that they were looking for a new place and considered several options, but as of May, 2008 Bear Mountain Angus has called Palisade home. “We knew a few registered Angus breeders in the area, but really we came in blind—it was a little nerve racking but everyone has been welcoming. We’re lucky to be in such a good area now, the people are really receptive of us and our cattle and we don’t have to worry about development at all.” Stoller said with a chuckle.
Relocating the ranch has however brought about some challenges. “The biggest issue, being a registered breeder, was finding new customers. We’ve done a lot of advertising to let people know that we’re here, and we work hard making sure that everything we sell is of the best quality.” Bear Mountain hosts two annual sales at their sale facility; the bull sale held the last Thursday in February and the Female Sale held the first Saturday in October. Stoller said networking with other cattlemen throughout the year at different events around the country has helped the ranch connect to buyers. “It’s all about getting out there and letting people know what you have,” he said.
Meeting the needs of buyers is important to Bear Mountain Angus, as they aim to breed sound, functional cattle, and Stollers’ wife, Tiffany, plays an important part in managing the herd. The research she’s done while pursuing a Ph. D. in meat science has contributed a wealth of insight to their program and philosophy.
“Overall we believe in focusing on quality with performance,” Stoller said. “We like cattle that are phenotypically pleasing, but still perform because performance is still key. There’s a ton of good Angus bulls that have solid EPDs. When we breed cows, we look to breed them with a bull that will help her out in areas she might be slightly weak. It’s our goal to make sure the bull and female complement each other, both phenotypically and on paper.”
After the move to Nebraska, Bear Mountain bulls adopted an all forage, non-starch diet—a trait that Stoller feels sets them apart from others. “By developing the bulls this way, their digestive system will not have a transition period when they’re turned out to grass,” he explained. “We believe these bulls will have more longevity, get more cows bred and their feet and legs should hold up better. Corn is great for fattening cattle but not for developing cattle to last and perform.”
Since most buyers are use to seeing big, fat bulls at sales; it’s been a little tough to get people’s eyes adjusted to the more athletic build offered by Bear Mountain. Stoller however, has received very positive feedback about their performance and is looking forward to growing their business in Southwest Nebraska and the surrounding region.
“We won’t be relocating again, we’re here for good,” Stoller said. “We really enjoy it here and we’re doing what we love. The people are what I enjoy most about this business because cattle people in general are good people; they’re honest, hardworking and trustworthy and value the same things.”
Check them out at http://www.bearmountainangus.com/