Our Story

 

 

 

The Land

Our livelihood depends on the health and resilience of the land where we graze our herds. We value our livestock and strive to give them the highest standard of care while believing our most important task is good stewardship of the streams, foothills, forests and grasslands where we work. We partner with local organizations to protect our land from urban development, to regenerate creeks and riparian areas, and to reestablish native flora and fauna.

We also utilize cover crops to facilitate carbon sequestration by providing organic matter for the soil. This organic matter provides a home for the microbes that build a healthy ecosystem for the grass, and in turn, the cows. We mimic natural grazing behavior by rotating our cattle frequently, often daily, providing ample fertilizer and long rest time for the grass, root systems, and biodiversity in the land.

We feel very fortunate to graze our cows on such varied terrain in multiple locations. From our headquarters at Miller Creek with its flood irrigation and subirrigated drainage right next to town, to our lease on the Sapphire Ranch with its hills of native grasses and river basin full of moose, bear and elk, our cattle experience a wide range of what Montana has to offer. We love adapting to and working with our land to benefit and strengthen its biodiversity, resiliency, and habitats for all of its inhabitants, bovine and otherwise.

 

 

 

 

The Cows

Our cows are bred and selected for genetics that work with the land. We aim for a shorter, more compact cow that is designed to convert grass, legumes and forbes efficiently into nutrient-dense beef. These smaller cows are easier on the land and put all of their inputs into gaining fat and muscle rather than height and bone mass. We work hard to find the right genetics because an animal that is built for our environment will produce the best grass-finished beef possible.

Our cattle are grain-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free from conception to consumption. Our cows are never given growth hormones, sub-therapeutic antibiotics, or grains. We guarantee this by having an affidavit signed for every cow that is purchased by Oxbow and we keep detailed records showing each cow’s history. We believe cattle health and soil health go hand in hand, so rather than treat our cattle for parasites with chemicals that will soak into the soil as soon as the animal passes waste, we graze our animals in a fashion that mimics the natural grazing behaviors and naturally breaks the life cycles of parasites. Our cows are on a free-choice mineral, salt, and apple cider vinegar regimen which makes them healthy and strong, naturally.

One of the things we enjoy most about ranching is working with our cows. We handle them without undue stress and we take pride in our stockmanship. All of our cattle moves are done on foot or horseback, allowing us the finesse and response time needed to move cattle most effectively and quietly. We continuously strive to become better stockmen and see it as a lifelong journey, not something you master. In fact you can find us after every cattle move evaluating how we handled our cows and how we could have done better by them. We subscribe to the Bud Williams form of stockmanship and attend clinics every year to continue to learn and grow.

 

 

 

 

Our Team

Bart and Wendy Morris

Bart and Wendy moved to Missoula in the summer of 2006, fell in love with the garden city and Montana, and feel lucky to call it home. Bart grew up working on local ranches in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming, and Wendy was raised on the Tenny Ranch in northeastern Colorado; cattle and the ranching lifestyle is deeply engrained in their roots.  They met at the University of Wyoming during undergraduate school and married soon thereafter.  In 2014, Bart and Wendy fulfilled a life-long dream and started Oxbow Cattle Company with Bryce Andrews. In 2015, Bryce moved on to pursue other interests, but Bart and Wendy are continuing the mission.

Caroline Caldwell

Originally from a farming community in central Ohio, Caroline graduated from Bates College in Maine with a degree in environmental studies. During her collegiate years she was a rower and swimmer and spent summers working with horses and livestock on the east coast and Colorado. After graduation she received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to live and work abroad for a year on large-scale cattle and sheep properties in remote corners of the world. She lived in Finland, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands and Australia and worked in some pretty spectacular but far-removed places. After returning to the states she continued to work in ranching and in the Spring of 2018 she joined Oxbow Cattle Company. Caroline is excited for the future of Oxbow and is happy to call the Missoula community home.

Dave Kratochvil

Dave and his wife Jennie Mayo have been proud supporters of Oxbow back when it was in its infancy, and now Dave is our our go-to project man who helps out part-time and Jennie is our go-to gal for amazing Oxbow beef recipes. Their daughter Arlo is the rancher-in-training who will be moving cows in no time!

The Four-Legged Team Members

Addi

Always up for an adventure, Addi brings her cow moving skills to work every day, whether prompted or not. What she lacks in height she makes up for in courage, and she makes us laugh every day with her funny antics and unconventional work ethic.

Zu and Bitt

Unconventional cow dogs?  Okay, they are bird dogs that get to live the good life at Oxbow.  They spend their days at Oxbow watching after voles, mice and any game bird that dares to cross their path.  They also make sure to stay clear of the cows.

The Horses

A big part of our day-to-day life at Oxbow involves our horses.  We use them to handle our cows as well as travel the vast country where we graze our cows.  It is a true partnership between ourselves and our horses which teaches us to be humble and listen.  We value them highly and appreciate the jobs we can get done with them in a quiet and unobtrusive manner.

Our Community

ox · bow
/ 'äks,bō /
An abandoned channel in the course of a river, shaped like a U. We graze our cows on the ancient "oxbows" of the Bitterroot River, where these sub-irrigated fertile remnants of the Bitterroot provide lush feed for grass-finishing cattle.