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Montana’s Largest Ranches: A Rich Tapestry of Tradition and Innovation

Montana is home to some of the largest ranches in the United States. With vast amounts of land, these ranches have been around for generations, breeding and raising some of the best livestock in the industry.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the history and present-day operations of the

Flying D Ranch,

Broken O Ranch, and

N Bar Ranch to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the Montana ranching industry.

Flying D Ranch


Flying D Ranch, owned by Ted Turner, covers an area of 113,000 acres and is located in Gallatin County, Montana. Turner purchased the ranch in 1989, which now serves as a sanctuary for bison populations and a haven for wildlife.

The ranch is home to over 2,000 bison, which contribute to its reputation as a leading bison breeding operation in the country. In addition to bison breeding, the ranch also offers hunting opportunities for elk, antelope, and mule deer.

Broken O Ranch


Broken O Ranch was founded in the early 1900s by Edwin and Nel Villard and is now owned by Stan Kroenke. Located in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, the ranch covers an area of 122,000 acres and remains one of the largest irrigated farms in the state.


Broken O Ranch’s primary focus is on cattle operations, producing some of the finest beef in the nation. The Sun River, which runs through the heart of the ranch, supplies over 20,000 acres of land with water, allowing the ranch to cultivate crops such as alfalfa, barley, and wheat.

The ranch also offers hunting and fishing opportunities for a variety of game species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and pheasants.

N Bar Ranch


N Bar Ranch, located in Petroleum County, Montana, has a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s when the Newman brothers began their cattle operation. Since then, the ranch has seen several ownership changes, with the Wilks Ranches owning the property since 2011.

The ranch covers an area of 60,000 acres and is a registered National Historic Place. Present-day operations at the

N Bar Ranch primarily focus on Black Angus breeding, with the ranch producing some of the best Angus cattle in the industry.

The ranch’s breeding program is centered around superior genetics, and

N Bar Ranch cattle are sought after for their excellent confirmation, exceptional meat quality, and marbling.


Montana’s vast ranches have a rich history and continue to play a significant role in the state’s economy. These ranches produce some of the best beef and other livestock products in the country, and their contribution to the food industry cannot be overstated.


Flying D Ranch,

Broken O Ranch, and

N Bar Ranch are excellent examples of Montana’s ranching legacy, and their continued success is a testament to the dedication and hard work of their owners and managers.

Beaverhead Ranch


Beaverhead Ranch, located in Dillon, Montana, covers over 80,000 acres and has a colorful history, with ownership changes that have brought prominent figures in the industry. One such figure is Phillip Poindexter, who owned the property for several years before selling it to the Matador Cattle Company in 1948.

In 1992, the ranch was acquired by Koch Industries, a privately held multinational corporation, which oversees all its operations. The

Beaverhead Ranch’s purchase by Koch Industries reportedly drew criticism from certain environmental groups, who expressed concerns about the company’s environmental track record.

Despite the controversy, the ranch continues to be one of the largest in the state and has been significantly upgraded under its present ownership. In 2019, media mogul Rupert Murdoch acquired the historic property for approximately $32 million.

Today, the

Beaverhead Ranch boasts a diverse range of grazing animals, including cow-calf pairs, elk, antelope, and mule deer. The ranch’s management team works tirelessly to balance the needs of the animals with the preservation of the land, ensuring the health of both.

Galt Ranch

Located near Butte, Montana, the

Galt Ranch is a testament to the “cowboy way,” blending traditional cattle ranching with modern technology. The ranch focuses on raising Black Angus cattle for beef production and typically produces some of the best Waygu beef in the region.


Galt Ranch also has a thriving Quarter horse breeding program, using some of the highest-quality mares and stallions to create exceptional bloodlines. These horses are trained for use on the ranch and for other equine activities such as cutting and reining competitions.

Moreover, the

Galt Ranch utilizes technology to improve their operations and management of the herd. The ranch employs a computerized system that collects data on each animal, including weight, nutrition, and medical records.

The data is then analyzed to inform decisions about breeding, culling, and herd health. The

Galt Ranch also offers hunting and fishing opportunities through their subsidiary company, Birch Creek Outfitters.

Located on the property, the outfitters offer guided elk, deer, and antelope hunts for both archery and rifle seasons. The ranch accesses neighboring national forests for extended hunts and also provides exceptional fly-fishing on the Big Hole River and local reservoirs.


The ranching industry in Montana is a rich tapestry of history and innovation, where tradition meets modernity. The

Beaverhead Ranch and

Galt Ranch are two of the state’s largest and notable ranches, each with their unique features and offerings.

From breeding programs to hunting and fishing, these ranches provide a significant boost to rural economies and continue to shape the activities and culture of the state.

IX Ranch


IX Ranch, located in Big Sandy, Montana, is home to some of the state’s most prized livestock and has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. The ranch covers over 126,000 acres of land and is owned by the Roth family, who prides themselves on being stewards of the land and preserving its traditions and natural resources.

History and Ownership by the Roth Family


IX Ranch was founded in 1886 by C.J. McNamara, who purchased the property from Thomas Marlow, a cattle baron and politician. At the time, the ranch covered a modest 9,000 acres but grew significantly under McNamara’s leadership, reaching over 126,000 acres by the time of his death in 1911.

The ranch changed hands several times before being purchased by the Roth family in 1978. Since then, the family has focused on breeding Hereford/Red Angus, Angus cattle, and Quarter horses in line with sustainable ranching operations.

The ranch runs over 5,000 head of cattle, with the majority of its feed and hay sourced from within its borders, minimizing off-farm inputs. The ranch’s breeding program is well known in the industry, with their Red Angus cattle being highly sought after for their genetics and outstanding meat quality.

Recreational Offerings

While the primary focus of the

IX Ranch is on ranching operations, the property has become a popular destination for recreational activities such as hunting, UTV/ATV tours, and retreats. The ranch provides guided hunts to sportsmen for elk, deer, antelope, and upland game birds.

Hunts are managed sustainably, with a focus on both animal conservation and providing an outstanding hunting experience. The ranch also provides hunting education programs for sportsmen, highlighting the importance of responsible hunting practices and gun safety.

For visitors looking for a more leisurely experience, the

IX Ranch offers UTV/ATV tours, specially designed to showcase the beauty of the Montana countryside. During these tours, guests are led on an exploration of the ranch’s various terrains, including grasslands, timber, and river valleys.

Finally, the ranch offers exclusive retreat opportunities to both corporate and private clients. The retreats include lodging, meals, and access to the ranch’s natural beauty and recreational activities.

The ranch’s management personnel work with clients to create a customized experience that will meet all their requirements.



IX Ranch is an excellent example of a successful, multi-generational ranch that has evolved to meet the demands of modern farming and recreational tourism. Through its breeding program and sustainability practices, the

IX Ranch has positioned itself as one of the country’s foremost producers of high-quality livestock.

At the same time, the ranch offers a range of activities that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Montana, from hunting to ATV tours and retreats. In summary, Montana’s ranching legacy is a vital part of the state’s economy, with vast lands that continue to produce some of the best livestock in the country.

From the

Flying D Ranch,

Broken O Ranch,

N Bar Ranch,

Beaverhead Ranch, and

IX Ranch, these properties offer a range of livestock breeding, hunting, and other recreational opportunities while preserving the natural resources and traditions of ranching. The importance of ranching, particularly in rural communities, cannot be overstated, and its impact on the state’s economy and overall well-being is significant.


– What is the main focus of Montana’s ranching industry? Montana’s ranching industry primarily focuses on livestock breeding, including cattle operations and bison populations, and offers hunting and fishing opportunities and other recreational activities.

– What are some of the largest ranches in Montana? Some of the largest ranches in Montana are the

Flying D Ranch,

Broken O Ranch,

N Bar Ranch,

Beaverhead Ranch, and

IX Ranch.

– What animals can be found on Montana’s ranches? Montana’s ranches are home to a range of grazing animals, including cow-calf pairs, elk, antelope, mule deer, and other game species.

– How has technology impacted the ranching industry? Technology has had a significant impact on the ranching industry, with many ranches utilizing computerized systems for data collection and analysis to improve breeding programs and manage herd health.

– What recreational opportunities do Montana’s ranches offer? Montana’s ranches offer a range of recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, UTV/ATV tours, and retreats.

These activities provide visitors with a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Montana while enjoying sustainable tourism opportunities.

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