by Morgan Marley
It take endless hard work to make it in the ranching business, sometimes success is built upon for a century. For one Colorado ranch, this is certainly the case.
More than 100 years the same family has operated Noble Ranch.
In everything he does, Ryan Noble pushes the limits of success to what some would call overachieving. To everyone else, it’s no surprise Noble Ranch accepted the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) 2019 Commercial Commitment to Excellence Award during the brand’s annual conference in Asheville, N.C.
Humble to their core, whatever the Nobles have achieved only comes with the job.
“We are just us,” Ronella says, “and it just feels normal. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we are doing anything special, it just feels like what we should be doing and the way that we should be doing it.”
For a son and husband of teachers, education is a natural priority, with an open invitation to the ranch for any person or group who wants to learn. They have hosted many ag education and end-user groups, including CAB’s Master of Brand Advantages.
“The passion Ryan and Ronella have for education and business growth is immediately apparent,” says Kara Lee, CAB production brand manager. “Whether they are in the company of other ranchers or hosting a group of foodservice professionals, they are swapping experiences, successes and failures all in the name of continued improvement. They have a progressive mindset about business management and investment in employees that transcends all industries, offering guests with a culinary background a fresh perspective on some of their own challenges.”
The Nobles hold service high—Ronella volunteers with hospice, the elementary school and church groups. Ryan leads services at the church and coaches his kids’ sport teams. Together Ryan and Ronella are 4-H leaders.
Still they find time to focus on their own continued education. A few years ago the couple completed a Ranching for Profit course, an investment they say constantly pays its way.
“We’re constantly going through our gross margins and looking at the economics of ranching,” Ryan says.
Through that process, the ranch quickly embraced the opportunity for a heifer development program that has made an impact on nearly 6,500 cows in all. It’s a progressive initiative to help Basin Angus Ranch customers reach their maternal and terminal goals through selective breeding and GeneMax™ genomic testing.
“It’s very profitable,” Ryan says. “We also enjoy interacting with other ranchers, and it gives us an opportunity to have a hand in helping them better their genetics.”
The Nobles haven’t always bred Angus genetics. Thirty years ago the ranch focused on the continental breeds and that’s about when Ryan began noticing changes in the Angus breed. Expected progeny differences (EPDs) were gaining momentum, especially within Angus.
When he began making decisions, he didn’t hesitate to start using the business breed.
“Angus just covers every base that we need covered, and with fantastic results,” he says.
Ryan found what worked for their operation, and made it thrive. The bottom line: his cattle must have minimal inputs, along with docility, longevity and fertility.
“Economically, the Angus cow covers a lot of bases for us,” Ryan says. “She can make a living out here in our semi-arid, tough environment. She can use some resources that nothing else is really going to use and she can upscale protein like crazy.”
Average isn’t an option. Their philosophy is to build cattle in the upper 25% for the breed. That’s why he has partnered with Basin Angus Ranch on bull studs selling semen. This allows him to select the best animals and invest in highly heritable traits to bring into his calf crop and following cow herd.
“We don’t like to leave things to chance,” he says. “So let’s bet on a sure thing and let’s bet on the best thing. Right now, that’s Angus cattle and it probably always will be.”
The carcass quality his herd achieves meets his standards as a beef consumer.
“The Certified Angus Beef ® brand has always stood for quality and doing the right thing every chance you get,” he says. “That mirrors what we’re trying to do out here on the ranch.”
Retaining ownership of steer calves and marketing them on the grid proves their strict breeding standards are paying off.
“When I got back the carcass data on our 2018 steers, we crowded 70% Certified Angus Beef,” Ryan says. “They yielded about 63%. They were almost 30% (low) Choice and there was zero Select in the whole pen. That’s on 14 month old calves. The pay weight was around 1340 pounds. I think we’re doing okay.”
Ryan is interested in long-term relationships, sustained partnerships that result in repeat business.
“I guess everything in the beef industry and life in general is all about relationships,” he says. “If you hold your end of the bargain up and the other person does, too, you will have a fantastic relationship and it will work every time. It’s all about the people.”