Compass Cattle Company

Cattle and bison operation

The Ranch

Compass Cattle Company’s strategic intent is to develop livestock that produce nutrient dense meat, consistently rated the best tasting through low-stress stockmanship and regenerative agriculture practices. We are committed to a culture of integrity, continuous improvement, exceeding customer expectations and being a great place to work.

The ranch is located approximately 12 miles NNE of Big Timber, MT. Population 1,700 and K-12 school. The cattle herd is composed of cow-calf, yearling and grass finishing age classes as well as bison. Grazing practices apply the tools of adaptive, non-selective forage management; striking the balance of animal health and performance, and optimal range and soil health. This management balances the necessity for ecosystem health through regenerative agriculture.

Livestock are handled using low-stress handling techniques. Grazing is managed using refined grazing planning and implementation that requires understanding plant and soil health. Grazing pressures are applied through temporary fencing and the ability to handle livestock to impact the landscape. Irrigated pastures are managed to maximize forage diversity & soil health for the benefit of growing and finishing livestock. Regenerating soils and maximizing plant diversity are paramount to producing world class meat direct from the ranch. 

We operate on 21,000 acres and run 800-1100 head of beef and bison.



Regenerative Practices

  • Our grazing plan and implementation center around short duration grazes with long rest periods
  • Grazing planning relies heavily on the use of temporary electric fence 
  • Cattle and bison are checked daily and moved as frequently as 3-5 times per day at certain times of the year
  • Grazing is tracked through PastureMap or a similar program
  • Overall we manage for effective litter on the surface and body condition on the livestock


The Mentor



Aaron is the ranch manager and you will work closely together. You will spend everyday out in the field working with a great crew. The remainder of the ranch crew will support your needs and develop skills that will last a lifetime while accomplishing the overall ranch goals. 

The remainder of the crew has various herds and portions of the ranch they are responsible for overseeing. These are typically the cow herd, stocker herd, finisher herd, bison and the mechanical work. Your duties will be focused on one of the grower herds of stockers or finishers. This involves daily management and care of the livestock. All full time ranch employees are here to support your growth and each of them are fully capable of helping you develop throughout the season. Full time employees are: Keaton who oversees the cow/calf herd and North portion of the ranch, David D who oversees the bison, beef stockers and east portion of the ranch, David M who takes care of the bulls and finishers and helps throughout the ranch, and Scott who covers mechanical operations and the majority of the center pivots.

You will also have frequent interaction with the ranch owners as they are on the ranch and actively involved in the production and meat marketing businesses.

The Apprentice

What will an apprentice do?

Day to day work typically involves cattle care first and foremost. During your time on the ranch the cattle will be moved daily, and often multiple times per day. Utilizing temporary electric fences you will creatively layout paddocks on a map, then implement the plan. This involves setup and takedown of temporary electric fences with the main goal being to benefit forage striking the balance of the soil and cattle performance. This is an art – and requires adaptation throughout each and every day. As cattle grazing needs are met, the remainder of the work will be property improvement. This is a broad spectrum list including but not limited to: noxious weed management (this includes spraying with vinegar and micronutrients, we try to avoid chemicals, hand pulling, chopping and targeted grazing) equipment and vehicle maintenance, center pivot maintenance, fence and corral construction and maintenance, stockwater system install and maintenance, gathering and stacking hay, livestock supplementation, property cleanup, building maintenance, mowing lawns, sheep management, assist in corral work and livestock processing activities such as branding, carcass ultrasound, and preg checking, etc. The duties vary based on the season, but first and foremost is livestock and grazing management. 

Compass Cattle LLC is the ranch enterprise and produces finished beef and bison for Tangen Draw which is the marketing enterprise. The product is marketed in a direct to consumer model and is vertically integrated with the exception of the processing. The employees often assist with both businesses as needed. 

To learn more about our marketing and other information about the business please visit:

What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?

  • A positive can-do attitude everyday with passion for production agriculture
  • Problem solving- identifies and resolves problems, works well in groups or alone
  • Teamwork- balances team and individual responsibilities, gives and welcomes feedback, contributes to a positive team spirit
  • Motivation- takes calculated risks to accomplish goals
  • Organization- Plans and prioritizes work and uses time efficiently
  • Professionalism- Reacts well under pressure and follows through on commitments
  • Attendance- Is consistently on time, and ensures responsibilities are covered when absent
  • Dependability- takes responsibility for own actions, commits long hours of work when necessary
  • Confidentiality- sensitivity to Owner
  • Computer skills- including Microsoft Excel and Word, Google Sheets, smartphone application function and applications and understanding/ reading maps

Skills that An Apprentice would expect to acquire:

    •  Safe use of equipment on the ranch, including trucks, trailers, atv’s, and tractors.

    • Cattle, bison and sheep management
    • Fencing install and maintenance on temporary and permanent electric and non-electric 
    • Pasture productivity and how to plan and manage grazing
    • Flood irrigation
    • How to move and sort and load cows, on foot and horseback
    • Corral work and trailing cattle

    It is not necessary that you have prior horsemanship skills or horse tack. But we ask that you have the interest and physical ability to assist in horse related work for moving livestock. We primarily use horses for moving cattle and bison and you would occasionally be asked to assist in this work. Daily moves are typically on foot from paddock to paddock, but longer moves are horseback. You will spend extensive time utilizing an atv to accomplish daily work. This will require that you have the ability to ride and handle an atv for extensive time periods, and in sometimes difficult terrain and ground conditions. We utilize utv’s as well but not as frequently. We also have manual transmission pickups that you will be required to utilize for daily work.

    Nuts & Bolts


    Start Date: Ideal start date is April 1st, 2024 and the ideal end date is late November 1, 2024.  Dates are somewhat flexible.

    Length of Apprenticeship:  7 months, however we do try to be flexible with time constraints that you may have.

    Stipend: Pay is $14/hour and approximately 40 hours a week. Summer employees are often interested in additional hours and average 50-55 hours per week. Pay is every other week. $200 relocation allowance will be given upon arrival and a $800 relocation allowance upon completion of your season.

    General work hours: Work hours are typically 8:00-5:00. Oftentimes employees will choose to start a little earlier and work a little later than the standard 8-5. But we try to have the standard workday centered around the 8-5 work hours. Weekends are split with other employees. Meaning, you will have to manage some cows one of the days on the weekend, which typically takes less than ½ day. Then someone will cover the cattle the other day. Therefore you work approximately 5.5 days per week. If you need a full weekend off at times, we accommodate and encourage this as long as we have the labor to cover your duties.

    Housing: Housing is provided in a newer and updated 2 bedroom 2 bath modular home located at the ranch headquarters. Utilities are covered by the ranch including propane, water, sewer, electric and wifi. This housing is often shared with another seasonal employee. If we have an additional seasonal you will each have your own bedroom and bathroom, but will share a kitchen and laundry room in the house. The house is fully furnished including kitchen items. You will need to bring personal items such as bedding, pillows, towels, cleaning supplies and consumables.

    Laundry: Washer and dryer in your house

    Internet availability: WiFi is available in your house.

    Cell Service: Service is good. Verizon and T Mobile are best. AT&T service is poor.

    Time off: Typical work week is 5.5 days. If you need a full weekend or additional time off we can certainly accommodate as long as we communicate ahead of time.

    Visitors: Apprentice will be allowed to have visitors. Communication with your mentor ahead of time is important to accommodate and ensure it does not affect daily duties or a production event.

    Food: Meals are not provided. You will be responsible for your own food. We typically provide some ranch beef for your freezer over the summer months.

    Pets: This is assessed on a case by case basis and only allowed with prior approval from the ranch manager.

    Horse Use: As listed above, horses are used for ranch work. You do not need to have experience. But we ask that you have interest in learning and physical ability to ride a ranch provided horse at times.

    All the fun stuff: Tobacco and alcohol use in moderation are permitted at your housing area/in your off time. No smoking on the ranch.

    Guns: Will be assessed on a case by case basis and only allowed with prior approval from the ranch manager.

    Health insurance: Health insurance is not included. Workers Compensation is carried for all active employees.

    Ranch Vehicles: Apprentice will use ranch vehicles for work, this includes pickups, atv’s and utv’s as well as ranch equipment.

    Personal Vehicle: A personal vehicle is highly recommended for apprentice independence on their time off and to get to town for free time activities/errands.

    Additional items an apprentice should bring: Your work will be outdoors in all types of weather. This will range from snow, rain, wind, cold and heat. It is recommended you bring appropriate gear to work in inclement weather.

    Living at the ranch:

    • Grocery shopping: 14 miles to the nearest grocery store in Big Timber, 50 miles to Albertsons in Livingston, Or 65 miles to major grocery stores such as Costco.
    • Dining: 14 miles offers several options in Big Timber.
    • Entertainment: 14 Miles to Big Timber, or 65 miles to Bozeman or Billings.

    Quivira Coalition Activities: This apprenticeship is offered through Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program. The full cohort of apprentices on regenerative ranches and farms across the west will attend an April orientation, participate in supplemental education Zoom calls, complete skills checklists with their mentors, and attend the annual REGENERATE Conference in November. Apprentices are also required to write several reports during their apprenticeship that will be posted in the New Agrarian Voices blog on the Quivira website.