NILE officials organizing hay for hungry Leachman horses | TSLN.com

NILE officials organizing hay for hungry Leachman horses

Bill Brewster

Courtesy photoThe Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department is using a helicopter this week to fly badly needed feed to hungry horses on remote sections of the Home Place Ranch where hundreds of horses have been left without adequate feed. The helicopter allowed access to distant locations that were difficult to reach with four-wheel drive trucks and tractors.

Hay donated by livestock producers, horsemen and ag businesses from across the region is being organized this week by the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) staff to feed several hundred hungry horses left by James H. Leachman of Billings, MT, on over 40,000 acres of rugged rangeland in Yellowstone County. The effort is being dubbed “Operation Home Place” by NILE officials.

The first load of hay, donated by Valley M Ranch of Red Lodge, MT, was hauled to horses on the former Leachman Cattle Co. Home Place Tuesday, Jan. 25, beginning the process of getting hay, grain and water to possibly 600 and 800 horses, according to Justin Mills, executive director of the NILE.

“They don’t have an accurate number of the horses on the place,” Mills said, “because if you look at the bankruptcy records it indicates there might be 600 to 800 head.”

At this point, a number of 100-gallon water troughs have been donated by Shipton’s Big R and Tractor Supply. They are being placed in accessible pastures via four-wheel drive vehicles by the sheriff’s department early in the morning while the ground is still frozen.

In the first few days responding to the need, more than 100 tons of hay and feed had been donated by Westfeeds. Over the past week, NILE staff have received dozens of calls to help care for the horses.

Donations are being handled through the NILE Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Hay is being staged at the MetraPark area before being transported to horses by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office. Additional assistance is also being provided by the Montana Department of Livestock’s brand inspectors and other personnel.

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Mills said horses were left on the sprawling Home Place Ranch by Leachman after the ranch was sold to the Stovall family last July at a U.S. Marshall foreclosure sale. Leachman claimed he had the right to keep the horses on the ranch until July when he had the opportunity to buy the ranch back for $2.16 million, plus additional legal costs. Since then, the horses have crossed broken and cut fences to range on at least four additional ranches southeast of Billings. The actual Home Place ranch, itself, includes 9,400 deed acres and 30,000 leased Crow Tribal Lands.

After authorities discovered dead and dying horses on one of the pastures with sparse grass, the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office on Jan. 21 filed five primary and five alternative charges of cruelty to animals against Leachman. Several badly injured horses were put down by sheriff’s deputies last week after they were discovered. Leachman was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 28. Leachman has over 40 years of extensive experience as a purebred cattle breeder that dates back to the family’s founding of Ankony Angus ranch. After his Leachman Cattle Co. business faltered several years ago, Leachman formed the Hairpin Cavvy business to sell registered Quarter Horses.

Mills said the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department are handling the details of getting hay and feed to the animals.

Undersheriff Kevin Evans said on Wednesday, Jan. 26, a tractor had been lined up to move hay after being hauled on a semi-trailer to an access point. In addition, he hoped to use a helicopter to fly hay to some remote locations where it is difficult to reach even with the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles.

“There are at least four adjacent landowners with horses on their properties,” he said. “A number of fences have either been knocked down or cut.”

Last week, Dr. Jeff Peila, a Shepherd veterinarian, said conditions were extremely grim on one pasture where 350 horses had just several weeks to live if conditions didn’t change or feed wasn’t supplied because the pasture had been eaten down to the ground.

Since then, Mills said the Chinook weather has uncovered grass and water in some circumstances to improve conditions for some of the other horses.

“The colts were in good condition and the yearlings and two-year-olds looked like they should in some of the pastures,” Mills said. “The brood mares were beginning to get a little bit thin.”

But Mills noted that conditions could change rapidly across the range country with onset of snowstorms and cold weather.

Hay donated by livestock producers, horsemen and ag businesses from across the region is being organized this week by the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) staff to feed several hundred hungry horses left by James H. Leachman of Billings, MT, on over 40,000 acres of rugged rangeland in Yellowstone County. The effort is being dubbed “Operation Home Place” by NILE officials.

The first load of hay, donated by Valley M Ranch of Red Lodge, MT, was hauled to horses on the former Leachman Cattle Co. Home Place Tuesday, Jan. 25, beginning the process of getting hay, grain and water to possibly 600 and 800 horses, according to Justin Mills, executive director of the NILE.

“They don’t have an accurate number of the horses on the place,” Mills said, “because if you look at the bankruptcy records it indicates there might be 600 to 800 head.”

At this point, a number of 100-gallon water troughs have been donated by Shipton’s Big R and Tractor Supply. They are being placed in accessible pastures via four-wheel drive vehicles by the sheriff’s department early in the morning while the ground is still frozen.

In the first few days responding to the need, more than 100 tons of hay and feed had been donated by Westfeeds. Over the past week, NILE staff have received dozens of calls to help care for the horses.

Donations are being handled through the NILE Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Hay is being staged at the MetraPark area before being transported to horses by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office. Additional assistance is also being provided by the Montana Department of Livestock’s brand inspectors and other personnel.

Mills said horses were left on the sprawling Home Place Ranch by Leachman after the ranch was sold to the Stovall family last July at a U.S. Marshall foreclosure sale. Leachman claimed he had the right to keep the horses on the ranch until July when he had the opportunity to buy the ranch back for $2.16 million, plus additional legal costs. Since then, the horses have crossed broken and cut fences to range on at least four additional ranches southeast of Billings. The actual Home Place ranch, itself, includes 9,400 deed acres and 30,000 leased Crow Tribal Lands.

After authorities discovered dead and dying horses on one of the pastures with sparse grass, the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office on Jan. 21 filed five primary and five alternative charges of cruelty to animals against Leachman. Several badly injured horses were put down by sheriff’s deputies last week after they were discovered. Leachman was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 28. Leachman has over 40 years of extensive experience as a purebred cattle breeder that dates back to the family’s founding of Ankony Angus ranch. After his Leachman Cattle Co. business faltered several years ago, Leachman formed the Hairpin Cavvy business to sell registered Quarter Horses.

Mills said the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department are handling the details of getting hay and feed to the animals.

Undersheriff Kevin Evans said on Wednesday, Jan. 26, a tractor had been lined up to move hay after being hauled on a semi-trailer to an access point. In addition, he hoped to use a helicopter to fly hay to some remote locations where it is difficult to reach even with the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles.

“There are at least four adjacent landowners with horses on their properties,” he said. “A number of fences have either been knocked down or cut.”

Last week, Dr. Jeff Peila, a Shepherd veterinarian, said conditions were extremely grim on one pasture where 350 horses had just several weeks to live if conditions didn’t change or feed wasn’t supplied because the pasture had been eaten down to the ground.

Since then, Mills said the Chinook weather has uncovered grass and water in some circumstances to improve conditions for some of the other horses.

“The colts were in good condition and the yearlings and two-year-olds looked like they should in some of the pastures,” Mills said. “The brood mares were beginning to get a little bit thin.”

But Mills noted that conditions could change rapidly across the range country with onset of snowstorms and cold weather.

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