Western States Ranches

Western States Ranches is a large scale grassfed beef operation managed under Grasslands LLC. We thrive in working in harmony with wilderness.

The Ranch

Western States Ranches is a large-scale grassfed beef operation located in western Colorado. We run approximately 2,500 head of cows and yearlings on 200,000+ acres, comprising a mix of irrigated properties and Federal grazing permits (USFS and BLM). All private lands are either certified organic, or in the process of being certified.

Western States Ranches is managed under Grasslands LLC. Grasslands manages extensive, wild, rugged grassland landscapes, acquired for or owned by our investor partners. We provide long term skillful stewardship of the land, livestock, and invested capital. We nurture these landscapes toward ever greater ecological integrity and financial viability while providing meaningful and satisfying careers for hard-working, land-loving people. We do this via the conversion of perennial, primarily native plant biodiversity into high-quality animal protein, improving land and habitat in the process. We thrive by working in harmony with wilderness. As our largest and most topographically and biologically diverse operation, Western States poses a tantalizing challenge to our skilled team of high country cowboys and irrigators. Grasslands assumed management of this amazing compilation of country in May of 2019, so it’s also our newest project. Our cows share their mountain and desert pastures with a profusion of wildlife, including Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, black bears, Merriam’s wild turkeys, and Dusky grouse. 

One interesting component of this ranch is its relationships to other organizations like Snaplands LLC and Savory Institute. Apprentices could receive opportunities to network with these contacts to start building relationships themselves in the regenerative agriculture community.

Regenerative Practices

  • Holistic planned grazing
  • Organic grass fed operation
  • Modify practices based on land health monitoring
  • Involved in soil carbon research with Colorado State University

The Mentor

Brandon Dalton

Brandon is intimately familiar with the realties of staffing, creating, managing, and implementing triple-bottom-line land management strategies.  He brings a hands-on international expertise in holistic management and rangeland management to every project.  His hard knocks from leading teams and agricultural businesses in New Zealand and the United States allows his practical insights to assist a diversity of cultures, rangelands, farmlands, and climates.  Brandon has created his own custom-grazing business and has worked for 13-years generating results and returns in restorative ranching and farming operations.  This includes overseeing large-scale government grazing permits, private family operations, and complex land portfolios on dry-lands and irrigated pastures with various livestock classes.  He has collectively managed hundreds of thousands of livestock and acres, including one of NZ’s largest stations on the South Island, Lee’s Valley.  He also heads a ranching internship program and various irrigation properties for Grasslands LLC.

His cowboy wife, Brandi, two sons, and daughter, regularly engage in ranch work on the Colorado’s Western Slope.  In his spare time, Brandon enjoys his additional passion in elk hunting, trout fishing, and competitive Jiu Jitsu.


Lauren Lees

Apprentices will be mentored by both Brandon and Lauren Lees, a graduate of NAP, who spent her second year at Western States. Henry Harrington will be spending his second year in NAP at Western States as well. This site has hired many NAP graduates as well, so it might be a good choice for an apprentice who enjoys being around other young people.

The Apprentice

What will an apprentice do?

A list of work duties would include but not be limited to:

    • intensive grazing management of cattle on irrigated properties
    • irrigating pastures
    • calving cows, and other animal husbandry
    • conservation land management 
    • An apprentice with advanced horsemanship skills may have the opportunity to spend time on grazing permitted lands.

What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?

  • Intense interest in regenerative grazing
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to work physically outside in all conditions, long hours
  • Ability to use hand tools (shovels, hammers, etc)

Skills that you would expect to acquire:

  • Basic ranch maintenance skills: Irrigation, fence fixing, cattle handling, grazing planning/management, electric fence, etc.
  • Land monitoring with Snaplands LLC

  Nuts & Bolts

Start and End Date:  We ask that the apprentice start work March 1, 2022. The season will wrap up for the apprentice around November 1, 2022.

Stipend: $1500 monthly + beef.

Time off: One day off per week, typically on a weekend day unless the apprentice would prefer another day off. This will be determined at the beginning of the season. When things slow down, the apprentice may get 2 days off per week.

General work hours: Generally 7am-5pm with a lunch break, depending on what’s going on at the ranch. 

Visitors: Visitors and overnight guests allowed. All visitors and apprentices must be respectful and responsible when on site. 

Housing:  Housing provided is either a camper or two bedroom house located on the ranch. The house is right down the road from the mentor’s home but gives the apprentice privacy. .

Food:  Apprentice will be provided beef as part of the stipend.

Pets: Well-behaved dogs are allowed. One horse can be accommodated on a case by case basis.

All the fun stuff:  Tobacco and alcohol use are permitted on site but not while on the clock. Apprentice should be prepared and sober to come to work each day.  No smoking is allowed in ranch vehicles or housing.

Health Insurance: The ranching lifestyle has inherent dangers. While personal health insurance is not required to participate in the apprenticeship program, it is strongly encouraged. Western States carries Workman’s Compensation to cover injuries incurred on the job. But if the apprentice is injured on his or her day off, gets sick, or has or develops chronic conditions like allergies, these types of issues should be covered by personal health insurance. 

Ranch Vehicles: Apprentice will use ranch vehicles for work. Most vehicles are automatic transmission.

Personal Vehicle: A personal vehicle is highly recommended for apprentice independence on their time off but is not required for the apprenticeship.

Horse Use: Generally, this position does not utilize horses for day-to-day activities.

Guns: Apprentice may bring a firearm, but must respect the safety of the families on the ranch. Strict safety measures must be followed.

Services available to the apprentice:

  • Washer and dryer: There is a washer and dryer in the apprentice housing.
  • Internet connection: Most people on the ranch use mobile hotspot. Wifi connection can be arranged when needed, but not currently in housing.
  • What is cell phone service like on your ranch? What is the best provider for cell phone service? Service is good on the ranch. Verizon is the best provider.
  • Are there any additional items the apprentice will need for the duration of the apprenticeship? Apprentice should bring own bedding and towels. House is partially furnished.

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 provided in partnership with Holistic Management International, and attend the annual Quivira Conference, hosted with Holistic Management International and the American Grassfed Association, in November.  Apprentices are also required to write several reports during their apprenticeship; these reports will go through the NAP Coordinator at Quivira, and be posted on the Quivira website.

Living in Eckert, CO: Eckert is a small community located outside of Delta, Colorado. You can find grocery stores, restaurants, and a Walmart. The larger towns of Montrose and Grand Junction are both within an hours drive.