Farming and Ranching in Oklahoma and Kansas

The Chain Ranch is full of tradition and history dating back to 1893 when Oscar Chain traded fifty dollars and a shotgun for a quarter section,160 acres, in Dewey County, Oklahoma. Since that trade, the Chain Ranch has developed into a six generation owned and operated family business, with four ranches in Oklahoma, three in Kansas and several leased properties in both states.

The Ranch runs a cow/calf operation, in which all of the weaned calves are kept and marketed as fat cattle. We also handle stocker calves on grass and wheat pasture. The largest portion of our bulls are Limousin, Angus and Red Angus. The genetic integrity of our herd is maintained through our selective AI breeding program. The quality of our beef is evidenced in the manner in which we go to market. The vast majority of our cattle are marketed through Myres Natural Beef, ensuring an all-natural product with no trace of antibiotics or hormones.

The ranch farms approximately 10,000 acres of wheat, alfalfa and feed in Oklahoma and Kansas. In addition to these traditional crops, we are now incorporating canola, millet, and milo into our crop rotations.

Lastly, we believe that our ranch is truly a gift from God. We're here to be good stewards of this land until he decides to take it back.

Awards and Honors

The Oklahoma Agricultural Hall of Fame

Ralph Chain
by Jack Carson

It was, perhaps, poetically fitting that Ralph Chain was named to the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame at the conclusion of the first Governor's Conference on Agriculture and Economic Growth, April 14, 2004. His story, and the story of the Chain Ranch, read like a tome of Theodore Roosevelt's experiences as a rancher. The course he helped set for his ranch's future, on the other hand, mirrored the suggestions of the day's brightest minds regarding the future of agriculture.

The Chain Ranch's beginnings date back to 1893 when Mr. Chain's grandfather bartered a shotgun and $50 for 160 acres of sandy Oklahoma land. Hard work, faith in God and a progressive spirit helped build the ranch into more than 60,000 acres of range and cropland by the time Ralph Chain earned this honor.

Over the course of his stewardship, the ranch focused on practices environmentally sound and adopted farming methods conducive to producing all-natural beef. Mr. Chain discovered that these practices were not only cost-effective, but they also boosted the land's capacity to host wildlife to a level like never before. His stewardship had helped the Chain Ranch pioneer a new industry: Oklahoma agri-tourism.

Sportsmen, naturalists, and others seeking the beauty of wildlife-rich western Oklahoma soon found about the wonderful treasures of the Chain Ranch. Both the ranch and countless enthusiasts soon became the beneficiaries as the Chain Ranch Sportsman's Club was created.

Meanwhile, the rural phone company that served his area, youth groups, and Church interests were also beneficiaries of his stewardship. Mr. Chain answered the call for leadership and service wherever he saw it. For him, the life of service to his Lord and his fellow man was a calling. Not an option.

Everything I have is on loan from God. I'm just here to take care of it, he said at his induction ceremony. This award should really go to my family and the ranch hands who have been with us for so many years.

Chain Land & Cattle Company Wins Top Environmental Award

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2004) Ralph and Darla Chain, owners of the Chain Land & Cattle Company in Canton, OK, have been selected as regional winners of the 2004 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The family is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious annual award program recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are inventive, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation.

In its 14th year, the program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of USDA and is administered by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). The Chain family is the sole representative of NCBA's Region IV, which includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. They were nominated by the Oklahoma Beef Council.

This award honors the overlooked environmentalists, explains Megan Tipton, coordinator of the program. People who spend their lives working the land embody the true nature of conservation and for this Oklahoma family, Earth Day is every day. Ranching is a lifetime spent outdoors, working with natural resources. The Chain family demonstrates how today's landowners utilize creative technologies and innovations to run a profitable, environmentally-friendly business.

Located near Canton, the Chain Land & Cattle Company has been in the family for six generations and has always been distinguished by the special care its owners take to preserve and manage local wildlife. The ranch breeds more than 2,500 cows and heifers each year, which includes 500-600 mother cows on the Medicine Lodge, Kansas Ranch that are bred to top Angus Bulls. They also run a purebred Limousin cow herd, bred to Red Angus bulls, producing a cross-bred bull to be used on their commercial cow herd. All of their raised and purchased calves are marketed through Coleman's Natural Beef in Denver, CO.

This area of Oklahoma's landscape has the unfortunate heritage of having highly erodible land, says Micah Unruh, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Beef Council. The Chains recognized the importance of maintaining soil and have worked hard for more than 100 years to maintain a profitable ranching operation. Their grassland flourishes and has provided the basis for improved wildlife populations.

The Chains have worked extensively with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to develop an effective wildlife management program. Through leased hunting, the Chains have been able to turn the problem of increased wildlife populations into an opportunity. The Chain Ranch manages its wildlife through selective harvest, population inventories, and habitat enhancement.

Additional stewardship practices include a comprehensive brush control program, which includes prescribed burning to control the spread of eastern red cedar on the ranch. This program is adjusted to fit the differing landscapes found on the more than 60,000 acres of Oklahoma and Kansas. This management program has been featured on several ranch tours, demonstrating to other producers the importance and practicability of environmental stewardship.

If it can grow trees, it can grow grass, explains Ralph Chain.

The Chains are acutely conscious of their family's history and the history of the area. To that end, the Chains have worked persistently to control the spread of eastern red cedar, a growing problem in Western Oklahoma and Southern Kansas. The Chain Land and Cattle Company has been a leader in this respect and in conservation in general.

Accepting challenges and working to build a better future for our children and grandchildren is as much a part of our job as is improving our stock and protecting our natural resources, says Ralph Chain. Therefore, we must become educators and share the story of our industry and our commitment to safeguarding our natural resources and food supply.

Beef Board Seats New Members, Elects Leadership

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - (February 7, 2006) - The Cattlemen’s Beef Board seated new board members and elected officers and representatives for its 2006 Executive Committee and Beef Promotion Operating Committee during its annual meeting in Denver Feb. 1-4, 2006.

In addition, the Beef Board unanimously elected Amarillo, Texas cattleman Jay O’Brien to serve as 2006 chairman of the Board, with outgoing chairman Al Svajgr of Nebraska handing over the gavel as he ended his term. Kansas cattleman Ken Stielow was elected vice chairman, and Dave Bateman of Illinois was elected to serve as secretary/treasurer of the Beef Board for the year.

After being appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in December, a total of 30 Board members were seated for service on the CBB – including 10 reappointments of existing members to a second term and appointment of 20 new members, who accepted the oath of office from USDA representative Kenneth Payne.

New members seated and the states they represent include: Thomas Jones, Arkansas; Ross Jenkins II, California; Roger West, Florida; Tim Shaw, Idaho; Daniel Kerschen and Terry Handke, Kansas; Charles Bassett, Missouri; James Eschliman and Lindy Whipps, Nebraska; Margie Hande, North Dakota; Bob Drake and Andrea Hutchison, Chain Ranch, Oklahoma; Robert Bruner, Daniel Dierschke, Bryant Fisher and Daryl Owen, Texas; Bill Oliver, Virginia; and Ron Allen, John O’Carroll, and David Palmer, importers.

Reappointments and the states they represent include: Carlyle Currier, Colorado; Ken Stielow, Kansas; Charles Miller, Kentucky; Jim Almond, Montana; Pat Woods, New Mexico; Randy Meabon, Pennsylvania; Ed Blair, South Dakota; Sugie Sartwelle, Texas; and Greg Benedict and Kim Holzner, importers.