Sara and Mike on horses

San Isabel Ranch

Established in 1872, Mike and Sara Shields are fourth generation ranchers in the Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado.

meet the SHIELDS:

describe your operation

Established in 1872, San Isabel Ranch has been home to four generations of our family. We strive to combine quality genetics in the cattle we raise, dedicated land stewardship, and disciplined animal handling practices.

Our hay enterprise supplies not only the cattle and horses at the ranch, but we are fortunate to offer quality horse hay to many customers on the Front Range and nearby areas. 

how do you keep animals safe and healthy?

We are firm believers in good nutrition balanced with the stages of production and age in the cattle we raise. The strict quality controls applied to the feeds we provide ensures optimal growth, gains, and respiratory health. The diligent vaccination and worming program are coordinated through the working relationship with our veterinarian. This ensures needed and desired disease resistance and longevity in the cattle we raise.  

how do you care for the environment?

We believe in the benefits of rotational grazing; timing of plant growth with varied duration of grazing dependent upon growth stages of the types of grasses available. We annually harrow/drag our hay meadows to allow the new plant growth to "breathe" and spread organic material over the surface. Weeds are controlled in a variety of methods including but not limited to mowing and mild chemical applications.

The salt and mineral that is supplied to the cattle is strategically placed so that stream banks and riparian areas are not heavily impacted.

what do you feed and how does it change seasonally?

Every season must be balanced with the available forages and stage of production of the cattle.

We adjust the amount of protein provided in the vitamin/mineral package in concert with grass growth and availability. Especially in late Fall and Winter months, this is accomplished in three forms; free choice vitamin/mineral/salt, measured amounts of high protein Sunflower "cake", and supplemental hay.

We have the hay tested annually to ensure the proper balance of protein and energy availability in the winter months.

Early Spring management of calving cows requires careful watch for adequate energy, change in demands for mineral requirements and careful watch for nutritionally caused issues such as hypocalcemia. Those combined factors drive the amount and types of rations provided. 

what message do you hope to pass on to your kids about farming and production agriculture?

It is by far the most financially challenging business to provide for your family yet the most rewarding way of life. It takes total commitment with few days of "vacation" planned, or days off work throughout the year. The most daunting truth is that you are completely dependent God's provision as there are so many factors within this business completely out of your control. It requires visionary, long term planning for every stage of production, every season, every enterprise. This is a business that is your way of life and makes up the very "fabric" and character of who you are. It requires courage, a passion for the land and livestock, and a strong business and work ethic. 

shields family

Mike, Sara and Brant Shields

teaching future agriculturalists

The Shields family prides themselves in helping youth involved in agriculture.

working with youth

Sara helps with various cattle shows in Colorado and ensures that the kids are safe in the showring.

Fall roundup

Mike on Horse

Moving cows closer to home for the winter months is essential to keeping them safe and well fed during the cold Colorado winter.

winter calving

Snow cart

Calf sleds are pulled behind the horses to bring newborns and mamas in during inclement weather. Calves are put in the sled to save the calf's energy because they don't travel well in their first few hours of life.

spring calving

Sara and calf

Checking calves after birth is essential to making sure they and their mamas are healthy. Tagging calves is a way of identifying and keeping records.

san isabel ranch

westcliffe, CO