Prickly Pear Ranch was homesteaded in 1864, 12 years before Custer's Last Stand and before gold was discovered in Last Chance Gulch (Helena, Montana). The main ranch has been in Nancy’s family since the turn of the century and is the 13th oldest homestead in Montana. Prickly Pear Simmental is a family-operated ranch with over forty years of performance testing on our Simmentals.
In addition to Don and Nancy, our youngest son Gary and his wife Loretta are our partners.
We began keeping performance records the spring of 1960 and bred our first Simmentals in 1969. In 1969, when all the exotic cattle were arriving into the United States, we tried most of them. The first year we used Simmentals, our weaning weights increased 104 pounds per cow compared to our straight-bred Herefords. We were delighted with the performance of the Simmental and decided that we wanted to raise cattle that when used in a crossbreeding program, would make the commercial cattleman a good profit.
Pride of Prickly Pear was the first full blood Simmental bull to make his home in Montana. He was purchased from Allen Dixon of Alberta Canada in 1972. Pride was a National Trait Leader on his daughter’s calving ease, just like his sire Ueli. We did our first embryo transplants in 1974 and sold the first polled purebred bull in 1976. The first black purebred bull (Ace of Spades) was born here in 1979 and sold in 1980 at the National Sale in Reno, Nevada.
We are charter members of both the Montana (#6) and the American Simmental Association (#174). Don has been on the board of directors of both organizations. Don has also been involved in setting up cattle health, nutrition and breeding programs in Nigeria, Africa since 1989.