John Lee ranches with his wife, Ellen, and they have five children, Chad, Krista, Angela, Johanna and Ben. He was raised on a ranch just a few miles from his current ranch, which he purchased in 1973. He runs the ranch with his wife and daughter, Angela.
Grass management is the major focus of the Njos Ranch. With limited water resources and fragile soils, a grazing system enables the ranch to efficiently increase productivity. The ranch has portable water tankers and mounted troughs, which hold about 5,500 gallons, and are pulled as needed with a tractor. The current operation is on 4,800 acres with 250 cow/calf pairs and 115 yearlings; however, with increased stock density, they plan to increase numbers. Because the Njos Ranch is located on the edge of the Badlands, the land can be very rough. The cattle are moved at least once a day, but it can be up to three to four times a day. The operation does bale grazing for winter, and during this time, John Lee sets up planned grazing and financial plans.
The Njos family realized early they needed a change in management strategies to ensure the future of their ranch, and it was important to be good managers of natural resources and matching livestock to the resources. The benefits of the holistic management of the Njos Ranch include increased grass production, diversity of grass species, better water infiltration, less runoff, more litter, increased wildlife numbers and more pounds of beef per acre. The biggest improvement has been the net return through proper grass management. John Lee and Ellen strive for low input costs and working with nature to turn over a successful, sustainable ranch to the next generation. The Njos family enjoys seeing their grandkids excited about ranching, increased wildlife population and the future.
Areas of expertise are:
- Goal Setting/Decision Making
- Grazing Management/Rotations
- Livestock Movement
- Water Development/Placement
- Grazing Lands for Wildlife