PEAK VIEW RANCH HISTORY
Peak View Ranch
Founded in 1977, Peak View Ranch is located in the Arkansas Valley of southeastern Colorado near the town of Fowler.
The Early Years
Rick Leone as a boy at the age of 15 purchased the first Shorthorn female that started the herd known today as Peak View Ranch, Inc.. Rick’s parents, John and Virginia Leone, financially supported the purchase then and throughout the rest of their lifetime worked to enable Rick and later his wife Trish and children Gabriella and Richard Valentino to advance the family operation.
When their home and property in Colorado Springs were condemned for city airport expansion in 1990, John and Virginia found the Fowler location. Along with Rick, they dedicated themselves to improving the Fowler ranch and creating a family owned and operated ranch.
The first Shorthorn female was purchased from the Cooksey family of Roggen, Colorado at the Western States Shorthorn Sale in Denver, Colorado in April of 1977. Her name was Peak View Eliza the 4th and thus later the origin of the name Peak View Ranch, Inc.. Bud and Helen Arfsten took Rick to the sale and were the reason for Rick purchasing a Shorthorn. Bud and Helen had deep roots in the Shorthorn breed through Helen’s family, the Noes.
Bud and Helen helped Rick make his selection of the white yearling female and transported her home to the family’s location in Colorado Springs. The existing registered herd today originated from less than 20 purchased females. All the details of purchased females are in the ranch’s herd book. Bud and Helen had befriended Rick as a very young boy and throughout their lives mentored and shared unselfishly to support Rick’s efforts to create his young cow herd while he completed his education at CSU and eventually became a veterinarian.
While Rick’s deep love and commitment to the livestock and land fueled his commitment, he was quick to give credit to his parents’ love and generosity and the Arfsten’s support and friendship. Without their assistance he would not have been the same person or have been able to succeed as he did with the family operation.
a Peak View Ranch foundation female: Peak View MOET's dam
All About Family
Rick married Trish in 1996. Trish was the last element to fall into place to ensure the success of the ranch. She brought a great knowledge and skill with horses, which created a whole new element of the ranch. Trish also had a great eye for visual appraisal of livestock and knowledge of agriculture. She shared Rick’s love and compassion for the livestock and wholeheartedly worked side by side as a partner with Rick to care for and steward the ranch and its many creatures. Rick’s brothers and sister and Trish’s parents also contributed to the success of the family operation.
From 1977 to 1988 the cows were managed in Colorado Springs on the Leone’s small acreage and in Larkspur at the Arfsten’s. The cows were moved to Creighton, Nebraska for two years while Rick took his first job as a veterinarian. Then on June 2, 1990 along with Rick, the cows returned to Colorado to the existing location south of Fowler. The Fowler location was much different in 1990 than it is presently. A series of aerial photographs shows many of the improvements to the ranch that occurred as a result of the foresight, planning and hard work of Rick, John and Virginia and later Trish.
The original brand was a gift in the late 1970s given to Rick by Bud and Helen. The second brand was purchased by the ranch as a new brand in 2005. Both were used as freeze brands – hot brands were used rarely after 1995. The original brand continued to be applied to the females, while the new brand was applied to the male progeny.
Peak View Ranch, Inc. has always bred registered Shorthorn cattle. Since its inception in 1977, its goals were stated and periodically reviewed and altered. These records are preserved in the herd book.
Setting A Standard
In the early 1990s Red Angus bulls were used to create F-1 crossbred females. Since Rick was unsure of their ability, he maintained his own F-1 herd as a testing ground. These F-1 females were bred for terminal cross calves to Limousine bulls. Rick was well pleased and their performance records supported their ability to meet the standards Rick had set. This F-1 herd was maintained as well as the registered herd until 2005. At that time, it was decided to return to having only one herd and use all the ranch resources to produce only registered cattle. The Red Angus influence cows were appendix registered in the American Shorthorn Association and from that point on bred to registered Shorthorn bulls. Ultimately, their offspring would qualify to reenter the purebred herd book by reaching 15/16-blood level; thus, bringing some of the positive attributes of the Red Angus breed into the Shorthorn breed. Rick and Trish appreciated the maternal ability of the Shorthorns in terms of milk production and reproductive efficiency but criticized the breed for extreme mature size and poor fleshing ability.
In an attempt to improve the herd and locate superior genetics, bulls were selected for a few years based on factors such as phenotype, popularity, reputation, and show ring success. Often, little was actually known about the bull, it’s dam and a first hand inspection was not a requirement. Finding the genetics to improve our herd became the subject of much time, research and frustration. In the end, this frustration helped us develop the selection criteria used today and our experience made it very clear that there is no correlation between show ring success and quality commercial cattle. Virtually every conformational flaw can be covered up with fat and fluff. Plus, the judges put little or no value on the numbers – so without the incentive to be recognized for good numbers or any requirement for reproductive or feed efficiency, show ring genetics do not produce the qualities valued by commercial cattlemen reliably. Thus, Peak View Ranch, Inc. made a decided shift away from the show ring and most of the Shorthorn Country sires.
Byland Mission daughter, one of the foundation females of Peak View Ranch.
From there, they were a little unsure of where the desired genetics could be found. Dr. Ron Bolze and Nick Hammet joined the American Shorthorn Association as Executive Secretary and Genetics Improvement Director in 2004. Both Ron and Nick shared Rick and Trish’s concerns about the breed. Ron and Nick were instrumental in locating genetics within the breed that possessed the greatest amount of outstanding production traits, fleshing ability, excellent phenotype and moderate mature size. The results of their dedication to producing this type of cattle led to the adoption of a well defined written description of selection criteria for all cattle and especially replacements by the ranch. Ron and Nick reaffirmed Rick and Trish’s commitment to strict genetic selection and line breeding. The process of trait selection and herd improvement is a lifelong commitment. The cattle seen today reflect this ranch history.
A modern example of the current day Peak View Ranch genetics