Commercial Angus Breeder of the Year 2006

Big Coulee Ranch. As the winds blows threw the 5000 acres of native grasses in southern Alberta, along the Porcupine Hills, this is where the commercial herd of the Big Coulee Ranch, home to Bob and Gail Gatto and family is situated.

18 years ago, we started working for Philip Kaiser and family. At that time they ran a purebred herd of Gelbvieh cattle of about 150 head and a commercial herd of around 100. A decision was made to start running red Angus bulls and we successfully did this for about 4 or 5 years, keeping replacement heifers from this cross to put back in the herd. 

After the death of Philip’s dad, we were given permission to run the herd, as we felt best. It was then that we decided to convert to Black Angus purebred bulls, buying them from various Southern Alberta Breeders. We have kept this program running since that time.
The Granum fire of 1997 changed the herd to an all commercial herd because of the loss of 80% of the purebred cattle. We still run a few of the purebreds and this cross has given us a good calf every year. Our long term plan is to eventually  run a commercial all Black Angus herd with around 400 head. 

As stated before we have about 5000 acres in total  with about 300 acres of hay land. Pasture rotation is big on our list to keep the native grasses growing. We go into our winter pasture in about the first of December and do little feeding until the herd comes home about mid March. The heifers start calving about the first of February and we use a large Quonset and the arena to calf in. Once the heifers have calved they are moved into a pasture that we can look out into from our front room window and can keep a close watch over. The cows calve out on a quarter section hillside behind the arena. Once they have calved, the calves are tagged; recorded and moved south to a large pasture of rolling hills in which shelters are put out to protect the babies from spring storms.

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