Silverado Ranch—Working on Longhorn Genetics Since 1974
The Searle family has been producing Texas Longhorns for 40+ years—first on Lone Peak Ranch near Evergreen, then in Huerfano, El Paso and Douglas counties. Stan and Lorna Searle purchased their first four head in 1974—following a chance encounter and dinner with Darol Dickinson during the Fort Worth Stock Show. Deciding that self-sufficient cattle suited their lifestyle much better than their Quarter Horse operation, a small band of horses was mostly replaced by registered Texas Longhorns. The Searle kids, Shelley, Lorna D., Charlie, Sharon and Monty, provided the ranch help. (Charlie still has an opinion to offer about building fence by lantern light after his dad’s eventual return home from the office.)
Switching to Longhorn cattle did simplify life for Stan, as his magazine publishing and cable television business required quite a bit of travel. However, within a couple of years the TLBAA persuaded Stan to create a magazine for the industry and his family published the Texas Longhorn Journal for the next 25 years (the last decade with Charlie as owner and publisher). He and Lorna attended Longhorn events across the US and Canada—representing the Journal, buying and selling cattle, helping with marketing seminars and judging shows. They were instrumental in establishing the Colorado National, Rocky Mountain Select and ITLA Houston Open sales. Lasting friendships were formed, as well as cattle being acquired, across the land.
Promoting Texas Longhorns in many venues, Stan was a founder of the ITLA and served as one of the early presidents. His family formed the Northwest Texas Longhorn Association and Lorna organized the Mountain States Texas Longhorn Association, later serving multiple terms as its president.
She also hosted tours of Longhorn breeders to Spain, Kenya and other countries. She and Stan traveled to Praetoria, South Africa for a private seminar with Dr. Jan Bonsma, noted animal scientist and strong advocate of the Texas Longhorn. “Whenever we accidentally made some money with TLJ, we promptly spent it on travel and cattle,” Stan recalls.
“Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” Gary Lake had taken over most ranch management responsibilities in El Paso County and the Searle family moved to a home near Monument. Albert Hockett continued to oversee Searle Ranch, located on the Cucharas River near Walsenburg. After that ranch was sold in ‘96, operations were concentrated in El Paso County where the Silverado Ranch was established east of Colorado Springs. Gary and Donna Lake became part owners and continue to run the operation.
With a strong background in tracking “Predictable Genetics,” Gary has been instrumental in selecting animals that reinforce a desired balance of Texas Longhorn traits. From Texas Ranger to Top Caliber, Silverado Ranch (like Searle Ranch) is dedicated to certain foundation pedigrees that produce colorful, growthy, big horned cattle, while retaining traditional genetics—that provide fertility, calving ease, mothering ability, browse utilization, longevity and gentle disposition. Ownership in bulls like Dynasty, Winchester, Shadowizm and Top Caliber has created a solid genetic base in the producing herd. Limited use of Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer has allowed for even more concentration of predictable genetics. According to Gary, “Herd sire selection is critical to the success of your breeding plan. I encourage anyone to invest more in their herd sires than any cow in the bunch. Your bulls, whether natural or artificial breeding, are your key to improvement in your herd.”
Even with a solid genetic base and individual animals that are competitive in the marketplace, every operation, including Silverado Ranch, has to have a plan to promote their product. Stan, with a strong background in print media and Gary, with the mentality of a circus clown, take their product to the streets…. literally! Each year Silverado Ranch cattle are seen by thousands of cheering fans on the streets of Denver, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. Stan and Gary know that promotion of the breed through public displays of the ‘Old West’ draws interest that results in sales of both cattle and Longhorn Beef. Contracting to lead off parades, performing in Wild West Shows and rodeos and even appearing with a one ton steer on the 3rd floor of an upscale Hotel all result in positive promotion for the Longhorn breed and increased interest in the ranch.
But not everything is about sales. During a fall branding a few years ago, the ranch had a request to host a few ‘Wounded Warriors’ connected with the Semper Fi Foundation. The experience was so moving that a decision was made to support the organization through a donation process during the Rocky Mountain Select Sale hosted by Silverado Ranch. Stan notes that nearly $50,000 has been added to the Semper Fi fund over the past 3 years through the efforts of the ranch and sale. “It feels good to be able to help such a worthy program and give back to those who have defended our freedom!”
Many folks today are concerned with privacy and security with signs that read ‘No Trespassing’, ‘Keep Out’, and other dire warnings, but Silverado Ranch encourages you to “Drop By” and “Come on In.” Come spend a few hours relaxing and looking at the beautiful Longhorn cattle on the Silverado Ranch. Stan and Gary will tell you stories about the history of the Longhorn and who knows—maybe you’ll leave with ‘Just that animal’ that you’ve been dreaming of.