Colorado ranch pushes high level performance 

Shane and Beth Temple operate the T-Heart Ranch, La Garita, Colorado, and are known for their top of the line high altitude bred females and SimAngus bulls. (Courtesy photo.)

When it comes to success, Shane and Beth Temple strive for new heights—literally and figuratively speaking—on a daily basis. 

The Temples operate their T-Heart Ranch at La Garita, Colorado, which is in the south-central part of the Rocky Mountain state. Their operation ranges from 8,000 to 12,500 feet above sea level. The No. 1 challenge high-altitude producers deal with is brisket disease. T-Heart has over 20,000 PAP scores in their battery. Every female in the herd is PAP tested and bulls are PAP tested twice prior to sale. It is very important to note the elevation where the test was taken and the elevation where the cattle live year-round. A test below 5,000 feet elevation is not as reliable as a test at 7,500 or 8,000 feet where the herd resides. 

T-Heart runs between 1,200 and 1,600 mother cows and traditionally market 700 to 900 replacement females a year. This year they will offer 900 high altitude bred females in their December female sale in addition to the 200 registered SimAngus bulls they sell each year in March. 

Challenges to Shane and Beth Temple are common to many in the industry—labor shortages and weather conditions. Severe drought is a common occurrence in southern Colorado and puts a premium on adaptable genetics and management decisions.  

The T-Heart Ranch began as a registered Angus operation in 1997. The introduction of Simmentals was a move that has paid off greatly. 

“We like the crossbreeding performance. The hybrid cow is much more productive and profitable, primarily because they are more fertile, adaptable and last longer in production,” they agree. 

Networking with top industry sources is important to staying on top. The Temples joined forces with Allied Genetic Resources and work with Marty Ropp and his team. A crucial part of that team is Dr. Mahdi Saatchi at Top Genomics LLC

Top Genomics LLC developed RightMate, a precision genomic mating program in 2019 and T-Heart Ranch uses to its fullest value. RightMate generates specific, precision mating options that take full advantage of complementary genomics between sires and dams plus information available from trait databases. The company’s technology can help a rancher create a more consistent calf crop and more quickly advance other desired traits.  

Genomically assured recommendations are also a tremendous tool for embryo programs as well. The RightMate process removes bulls that are deemed marginal or risky choices on a cow-by-cow basis and then ranks the remaining sires for use based on the producer’s genetic priorities. The final product is a list of the best sire choices for each female ranked according to breeding objectives and then generates genetic expectations for each mating result. From that sorted list, the rancher makes the call based on his or her experience and priorities for the additional traits that matter most to them and their customer. 

Managing genetic diversity is another feature of Allied Genetics’ precision mating tool. For each mating, a “genomic inbreeding” prediction is part of the process. Appropriate weighting is applied to ensure important genetic diversity for the future at a level prioritized by the producer. This tool has great potential for commercial herds as well, where minimizing the negative effects of inbreeding can have significant, positive effects on profitability. 

• Innovation is important to the T-Heart operation. They strive to be on the top end of what is going on with new genetics and practices. The key to their success has been the result of following leaders in the industry and gaining wisdom from their successes. There are many successful producers who are good role models.  

• Besides following DNA and expected progeny differences, they also rely on sound conformation. 

“Having good structure is critical,” Beth said. “They have to have good feet. Our country, and a lot of our customers’ country, has tough terrain and they have to be able to travel. We’re also seeking top maternal traits. That is absolutely a strength we have found in using the Simmental genetics.” 

• The ranchers avoid focusing on a single trait. 

Simmental has an all-purpose index. It does not emphasize an individual trait but rather combines all the EPDs to create a prediction of profit that can then be selected for. This index helps promote improvement in all economically important traits with the greatest focus on cow herd profitability. 

• They also rely on peer groups and breeder groups that have come from the Allied Genetic Resources connections. Being a good listener and observer has been important to their success. 

When it comes to advice for other purebred breeders or prospective breeders, Beth said sage advice remains a constant. “Be balanced. Create partnerships that benefit everyone. Keep in touch with past buyers and always look for new marketing opportunities.” 

When it comes to culling stock there repeats a familiar theme—structure, feet, and udders. 

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If a heifer is not a good mother in her first year she will be culled. Also, docility is a big factor. Most ranchers appreciate cattle with a good temperament. A comment they like to hear from bull buyers is their disposition is second to none. 

The T-Heart Ranch has always prioritized land stewardship and the Temples were recognized for those efforts with the 2018 Bloom Stewardship award. The award recognizes a commitment to protecting the environment while maintaining profitable operations. The award was named for former State Land Board Commissioner Mike Bloom. 

T-Heart Ranch was also recognized in 2017 as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Outstanding Seedstock Producer of the Year and in 2016 was the Colorado Simmental Association Breeder of the Year. 

For more information about their operation, visit

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].