While Roger and Nikki Callison are third and fourth generation ranchers by heritage, they’re first generation co-owners and ranchers of their southern Oklahoma brand and herd at Callison Ranch Beef, where they’ve developed a custom beef program allowing consumers to witness first-hand the heart and soul they dedicate to their ranching operation.
“I grew up on a large ranch in southern Oklahoma, near Madill. My father ended up in Oklahoma on a rodeo scholarship, fell in love with the state and never left. The motto on the ranch was “Raising kids, cattle and quality horses”, and that defines my childhood lifestyle,” said Nikki.
Originally, Nikki ended up in Dallas, Texas to complete a history degree and teach fourth and fifth graders. While she enjoyed the profession, she eventually realized there was nowhere she could go that was quiet and knew she was ready to get back to the country.
“I moved back to Oklahoma and met Roger two weeks later. We were both going through challenging chapters of our lives. To keep himself busy, Roger purchased 20 heifers. Every evening, we would go and check the heifers together. God used those 20 heifers to heal our hearts and start the Callison Ranch herd. We decided to get married and found 100 acres with a house to begin our new life together,” shared Nikki.
It’s been almost 20 years since they first fell in love with their now-ranch. Their herd has grown from twenty cows to more than 350, while raising their three children.
We’re diverse in that we go from the calf on the ground to the beef in your freezer. From the time we raise that calf to putting it in somebody’s freezer, it’s a two-year process, which allows us to hit all aspects of the beef industry.
My grandfather sold beef directly off his ranch in the 1970’s; he called it Rancher’s Beef.
We knew direct-to-consumer beef was something we could accomplish. While we ship beef, I was surprised by the number of people who would say, “I want to come to the ranch to pick it up.” People want to see where their food is coming from because there is a lot of mistrust regarding our food supply. Our success at this endeavor has to be measured by profitability to an extent, but I really would like to change the misconceptions of those outside of the industry.
We’re putting our heart and soul into these animals, and we want people to know, whether food comes directly from the ranch here in Oklahoma or another ranch anywhere in the U.S., it’s the best beef any of us can produce. We know it’s a safe food supply, and we want people to feel good about it.
Computers and smartphones have really made a difference. You have access to so many people and resources, which allows us to see what the markets are doing at all times and advertise more effectively. Farm equipment is bigger and better than it has ever been, which saves time. Items such as dart guns allow us to treat cattle for illness without causing too much stress on them or physically stressing ourselves. Technology helps us do more with less.
For us, we practice sustainability every day because without it we don’t have a livelihood. I believe a lot of people don’t realize that we, as farmers and ranchers, are professionals and that most of us have ranch management degrees. Through resources, education and experience, we’re able use the land more efficiently.
We work closely with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service. We’re essentially grass farmers. We grow the grass, cattle harvest it, and we harvest the cattle. Without our grass and our natural resources, we, as ranchers, don't have anything.
There are many, but the elements are definitely challenging. We’ve faced droughts and floods. Additionally, we’re always at the market’s mercy, which can definitely be a struggle. Financing is becoming harder to come by. It’s tough to grow, especially for young, beginning ranchers.
It’s a tough industry—very tough. I admire young people that get into it, but you’d better be ready for some long days.
From serving as the southeast representative for the Oklahoma Cattle Women's Association to serving as lifetime members of the Oklahoma Cattle Association, and from serving as 4-H volunteers to the board for the Therapeutic Riding Center and volunteer fire department, we’re active on the local and state levels in various organizations.
We both enjoy a grilled ribeye!
Between 6-12 months of age, cattle spend time at stocker and backgrounder farms and ranches where they graze on a variety of pastures. Here they gain weight and convert forage and grass into lean protein.