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A rancher since 1988, Steve Perkins of rural Wann, Oklahoma uses horses and dogs rather than four wheelers and squeeze chutes to work his commercial Angus-cross herd.

“I started in the cow/calf business down at Morris and moved up here in 2004,” Perkins said. “I was ranching while I was working in town, we always lived out, but now I’m ranching full time.”

His cattle herd is comprised of Angus cross cattle and he uses Angus-Simmental bulls. He pasture breeds and sells his calves at weaning, primarily through the South Coffeyville sale barn.

“I sell at their pre-vaccination sales and this year I’m going to sell off some cows too. Feed is just so high I can’t afford to keep them and the market is so iffy now.”

Perkins feeds with Belgian horses, he has four, and doesn’t use a squeeze chute when he works cattle.

“We use horses,” he said. “We gather that way, rope and drag to brand, use the dogs to help gather and move cows from one pasture to the other.”

He doesn’t rotate pastures on a schedule, but moves his cattle according to the amount of feed and the needs of the cattle.

He no longer farms, but does raise some hay that he bales in square bales for the horses.

In order to have the kind of horses he wants as working cow horses, he raises and trains his own. In the past he has competed in jerk down steer roping and AQHA reining contests. He helped form the Osage Steer Roping Association, but no longer competes. He also has competed in the Ranch Horse Association’s ranch horse contests and was the World Ranch Champion in round pen. This event was held in connection with the rodeo at Amarillo. He is still active in that event.

“I’m blessed with a lot of water, ponds and creeks, but I have built two ponds. I need to do some work on some of the ponds. I burn every year. It helps keep the weeds down and makes the grass more palatable.”

The place he has near Wann, has a number of creeks. These make for good hunting grounds and he doesn’t feel the need to plant wildlife plots. When he and his family first moved to their present location they were overrun with owls, coyotes and raccoons. The dogs have helped control that problem.

Perkins has approximately 1,700 acres and has an ongoing plan to eradicate most of the thistle and control sericea lespedeza. He is also in the process of turning old farmland back into pasture.

“I’ve planted 80 acres and have about 300 more to plant as soon as I can afford to buy the fertilizer. When you fertilize it can do a lot for you. Right now I’m through for the year. I can’t afford the fertilizer to do it all at once.”

Right now fencing has gone to the top of the list of things to do.

“I plan to do a mile a year, but with the prices going up like they have it’s hard. When I got into the business a basic steel post cost $2, and a roll of wire $30. Now it’s $5 and $70.”

In addition to the cattle and horses he raises, Perkins also raises Kelpies, a breed of dog that works cattle like a Border Collie.

“I used to use Border Collies, but now I have the Kelpies. I raise puppies for sale as well as for my own use.”

Perkins says he tries to do everything profitably and doesn’t believe the theory that just because something is new or works for someone else it is the best choice for him.

“The old cattlemen learned what was profitable and what wasn’t. That’s why I feed with a horse-drawn wagon, check my cattle horseback and use dogs for a lot of the work handling cattle. I’ve been asked why I don’t get a four-wheeler. You can’t rope off a four-wheeler.”

Perkins and his wife, Jackie, have two children, Heston, nine, and Paige, 13.

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