For ranchers: financial statements, ratios explained


Red angus calf stands in front of black angus mom.
Financial measurements can help guide ranch management decisions. UW Photo: Chavawn Kelley

While most ranchers state that profit is not their only motive for ranching, a ranch that is profitable is more likely to be sustainable over time, write John Ritten and Bridger Feuz in “Understanding Ranch Financials,” a new publication from UW Extension.

“Understanding Financial Statements” and “Calculating and Interpreting Financial Ratios to Gauge Ranch Business Health and Guide Management Decisions” offer a practical approach to the bigger financial picture. Both are free at

Ritten is an extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and Feuz is the UW Extension livestock marketing specialist.

“Understanding Financial Statements” describes how to use the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flows. Ritten and Feuz recommend examining these essential statements at least once a year, as each gives insight into different aspects of the financial health of the operation. An accountant or financial professional already employed by the ranch should be able to prepare them.

“Calculating and Interpreting Financial Ratios to Gauge Ranch Business Health and Guide Management Decisions” describes key indicators of liquidity, solvency, and income that can be calculated from standard financial statements.

While the authors say ratio analysis can provide a powerful approach to business management, they also offer these caveats:

  • Remember, no single ratio provides all the information needed to make good decisions.
  • Whether a ratio falls where you want it or not, don’t stop watching it.
  • Ratios are information only. YOU decide what action to take in response.

“The success of your ranch can be measured many ways, but the longevity of your enterprise is most likely to be determined by its financial success,” say Ritten and Feuz. “Knowing how to measure financial success can help guide management decisions you are contemplating.”

For more information, contact Ritten at 307-766-3373 or

These how-to guides are among many from UW Extension that help extend skills in grazing, cropping, pruning, canning, habitat restoration and more. See Find a comprehensive set of practical tools for Wyoming ranchers at YouTube video series from UW Extension include Barnyards and Backyards, From the Ground Up and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

Cheyenne conference helps gardeners grow

Garden flowers play a critical role in supplying nectar for pollinators. This hummingbird moth visits a tall garden phlox in June.                        UW Photo: Chavawn Kelley

The Gardening for Success conference, Saturday and Sunday April 14-15 at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne is for beginners, backyard gardeners, 4-H youth and leaders, master gardeners, community gardeners and farmer’s market gardeners.

“Topics will challenge, inspire, motivate and take you to the next level of gardening success, whatever your gardening experience,” says UW Extension educator Catherine Wissner.

The $125 conference fee covers lunches, a dinner and breaks. Go to to register and learn more. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. at the LCCC Pathfinder Building, 1400 E. College Drive.

Topics include edible landscapes, conifers and perennials for the Rocky Mountain Region, growing lavender, iris, and roses, native bee habitat, soil basics, seed saving, medicinal herbs and teas, growing in high tunnels or hoop houses, food processing, food safety and more.

Keynote speakers are Scott Skogerboe from Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery and David Salman, chief horticulturist for High Country Gardens.

Master Gardeners can take qualifying classes to earn an Advanced Master Gardener certificate. Participants in hands-on workshops can take home what they make.

Sponsors are Laramie County Master Gardeners and the University of Wyoming, Laramie County Extension office, the State Master Gardener Association, and the Wyoming Farmers Market Association.

For more information, contact Wissner at 307-633-4480 or at


New publication invites you to explore the plant life of Thunder Basin

A profusion of bright pink flowers growing in a short tuft in gra
Tufted milkvetch, a native perennial of the Fabaceae family, scientific name: Astragalus spatulatus

A new checklist of Thunder Basin plant life is for anyone who wants to learn more about the wide-open landscapes where the Great Plains meet the sagebrush steppe.

Free from University of Wyoming Extension, Common Herbaceous Plants of the Thunder Basin Grasslands is available at

The comprehensive plant list classifies plants according to forbs (flowering plants), shrubs, sub-shrubs, grasses and grass-likes (sedges and rushes). Listed for each is whether it is native or exotic, perennial (long-lived), biennial (two years) or annual, plus its family and scientific name.

For example, soapweed yucca is a native perennial of the Agavaceae family, whose scientific name is Yucca glauca. Woolypod milkvetch is another native perennial, this of the Fabaceae family, scientific name: Astragalus purshii.

Squirrelgrass, sleepygrass, winterfat, pricklypear and fuzzytongue penstemon are among the 195 species included.

According to the authors, the Thunder Basin grasslands in northeastern Wyoming are an ecotone where northern mixed grass prairie, short grass prairie and the sagebrush steppe come together. Ranging in elevation from 3,600 to 5,200 feet, the area is home to a rich array of plants and animals.

The new fact sheet provides a starting point for becoming familiar with the plants of the region’s uplands.

Common Herbaceous Plants of the Thunder Basin Grasslands is the third in a series from University of Wyoming Extension in partnership with the Thunder Basin Research Initiative, area ranchers and energy companies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association.

It is one of more than 600 how-to guides from UW Extension (see that help extend skills in gardening, grazing, pruning, canning, cropping, habitat restoration and more. YouTube video series from UW Extension include From the Ground Up, Barnyards and Backyards and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

For more information on this publication, contact University of Wyoming Extension range specialist Derek Scasta at 307-766-2337 or


UW meat judging team makes a comeback

team members and coach wearing white lab coats and yellow hard hats stand in front of hanging beef carcasses.
University of Wyoming meat judging team members at the National Western Meat Judging contest in Denver in January (left to right): Katie Hazlewood, Riverton; Erika Eckhardt, Sterling, Neb.; Alecia Ouellette, Carson City, Nev.; Haley Cole, Cheyenne; Cedar Radosevich, Manila, Utah; Zach Davis, Sebastopol, Calif.; Amanda Mills, Vernon, Vt.; Eli Worrall, Worland; coach Sierra Jepsen

The University of Wyoming meat judging team made a strong showing its first season under new coach Sierra Jepsen. The university last had a team in 2015.

The team placed second overall in specifications out of 17 teams at the Houston Stock Show Meat Judging Contest in Houston March 3. Katie Hazlewood of Riverton, Erika Eckhardt of Sterling, Neb., and Eli Worrall of Worland, placed 10th, 11th and 12th individually in specifications. Eckhardt was 9th in pork judging.

Specifications refer to the USDA institutional meat purchasing specifications that ensure consistency across the industry. Students memorize USDA specification rules for a variety of meat cuts, explained Jepsen. Competitors look over 10 cuts of meat and determine if they meet all specifications or if there are defects.

“It’s a pleasure working with this group of students because they all care deeply about improving their personal scores, as well as being good representatives for the university and state of Wyoming,” Jepsen said.

The team turned in its top performance at the Iowa State University Meat Evaluation Contest in Ames, Iowa, Feb. 10. They earned 4th overall out of 11 teams, third in specifications, lamb judging and beef judging and fourth in beef grading and reasons. Alecia Ouellette of Carson City, Nev., was 6th overall individual and 5th in beef judging. Worrall was 5th in specifications.

At the Fort Worth Stock Show in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 28, Wyoming placed 7th of 11 teams. The team was 5th high in pork judging and 6th high in lamb judging. Worrall placed 6th in pork judging. Zach Davis of Sebastopol, Calif., was 12th in placings and 13th in beef grading. Cedar Radosevich of Manila, Utah, was 16th in lamb judging.

At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Jan. 14, the UW team earned 8th out of 14 teams and 6th in beef judging. Radosevich was 6th in placings, Ouellette 11th in beef grading and Hazlewood 17th in lamb judging.

The UW meat judging team will help with the 4-H and FFA state meat judging contests later this spring and resume competition in the fall.

Jepsen invites UW students to sign up for the fall course, Introduction to Meat Judging. “The course covers everything they need to know to become a competitive meat judge,” she said. “After completing it, they can join the team.”

For more information, contact Jepsen at 307-766-3100 or

Bee Girl, scary movies featured at Wyoming Bee College

A honey bee hive at the Converse County Extension office.

University of Wyoming Extension offers the 2018 Wyoming Bee College Saturday and Sunday, March 17-18 at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.

Bee College is for everyone, from new and aspiring beekeepers to advanced and master beekeepers and those interested in gardening for pollinators, said UW Extension educator Catherine Wissner.  The $85 conference fee includes a dinner and two lunches. There is no charge for Bee Buddies ages 7 to 15 accompanied by an adult.

The pre-conference Bee University Friday, March 16 is an all-day advanced program. Participants may choose tracks on apitherapy – the hive as medicine chest; making honey wine; raising your own queens; or a course on becoming a master beekeeper.

To learn more about Wyoming Bee College and University, special hotel rates and registration, go to

“This year’s event is bigger, and we have three great keynote speakers,” Wissner said.

Opening Saturday is Bee Girl founder Sarah Red-Laird with the latest on education, research and a university collaboration to save bees.

Saturday night, Raymond Cloyd presents Hollywood and Entomology, a history of the 1950s “big bug” science fiction movies.

The topic Sunday morning is American foulbrood disease with Sandra Hope of Brigham Young University.

These and other regional and national experts present five concurrent tracks on Saturday and four on Sunday. Speakers and workshop leaders bring long-time beekeeping experience and expertise in conservation and habitat development. Participants learn best management practices, how to avoid pitfalls and building their business through new products (honey money). Hands-on demonstrations help new or aspiring beekeepers learn the basics.

For more information, contact Wissner, the “dean” of Wyoming Bee College, at 307-63­3-4383 or