Arizona Team Beef: Cami Cheatham Schlappy

Arizona Team Beef member Cami Schlappy is a mom, rancher, equestrienne, and fifth generation Arizonan. Meet Cami:

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Arizona Beef: What are your favorite ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle?

Cami: Having a toddler at home means I rarely sit down. My daughter, Celine, and I are always on the move. We are outside a lot to explore nature, spend time with our animals, and enjoy the country life.

My way of exercising is riding my horses. Keeping them in shape requires riding them at a walk, trot, and lope to keep their muscles toned. In doing so, I’m toning my muscles and building my endurance and fitness level. This is really great for my core and postural muscles and it really works out my legs. I’ve gone back to team roping with my dad, Foster Cheatham. This month I started back barrel racing. I enjoy competing and it helps motivate me to continue my fitness journey. If I’m in better condition, I can ride at a higher level and my horses will perform better. More importantly, if I’m healthier, I can spend more quality time with my family and be a better example for my daughter.

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How does beef help fuel your active lifestyle?

Lean cuts of beef, using marinades, slow cooking methods like crockpots, and soups have really helped me shed excess weight. I can still eat the beef I enjoy while loading up on vegetables by eating meals like beef and broccoli, fajitas, albondigas (meatball and veggie soup), loaded beef stew, and steak strips over salad. The beef gives me energy and the essential nutrients, including protein, I need to build muscles.

Did Team Beef inspire you to get active/healthy again?

Thanks to Arizona Team Beef and Million Mile Month a year ago April, I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some. I’m down six pant sizes and have more energy than before. The April 2016 Million Mile Month and Team Beef motivated me to get moving and to log my exercise. That led me to buy a FitBit and continuing to exercise after the Million Mile Month promotion was over. I started riding my horses more and returned to team roping and barrel racing. I now try and ride at least five days a week and be active every day. My goal is to increase my muscle and physical fitness level and continue to shed excess weight. I use portion control and lean meats to maintain my diet.

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Team roping, a sport included in rodeo, is fashioned after a real-life practice on ranches. For example – sometimes you need to catch cattle to provide doctoring to an animal when corrals are not near.

What is your tie to the Arizona beef community?

My maiden name is Cheatham and my family helped settle the Phoenix area beginning in 1919. We had a five-generation dairy on 51st Avenue and Baseline in Laveen. We milked a registered herd of Holstein cows and grew alfalfa, cotton, and some produce. My family has always been active in the agricultural community: United Dairymen of Arizona, Salt River Project4-H, Arizona State Cowbelles, Project CENTRL, Arizona National Livestock Show, Arizona State Fair, and Maricopa County Fair, to name a few.

I attended the University of Arizona majoring in Animal Science. My Master’s degree focused on the effect of anabolic implants on the live performance, carcass characteristics, and gene expression in long-fed Holstein steers.

Currently, I reside in Santa Cruz county and am active in my local and state Cowbelle organizations. I help in outreach and educational events such as the yearly Ranch and Rodeo Day at our local elementary school, serving steaks to returning troops stationed at Fort Huachuca, getting beef and ranching information out to schools, and volunteering at local events. I enjoy educating the public about the values and benefits of ranching and beef.

My favorite beef meal or cut of beef?

Prime Rib! Prime Rib has been a lifelong favorite. I make it for holidays and special occasions. Other beef favorites? There are so many! A few of my other favorites are grilled rib steaks, my dad’s beef tacos, albondigas (Mexican meatball soup), biscuits and gravy, and slow cooked ribs.

28 Ways Arizona Ranchers Care for the Environment

Earth Day is an everyday thought for Arizona’s beef farmers and ranchers. This lists only includes 28 ways Arizona ranchers care for the environment, but we promise there are many other ways. Caring for the land, their cattle, and you, the consumer, are the most important priorities for Arizona cattlemen and women.

  1. Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered and threatened species including Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and the Mexican Gray Wolf.
  2. Utilize rotational grazing in which cattle are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing. 
  3. Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples. This also helps to determine if nutritional supplements are needed to help meet cattle’s nutritional needs.
  4. Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.

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    Photo from the Menges Ranch.
  5. Manage streams and sensitive wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion, helps control runoff and improves fish habitat.
  6. Utilize beef production practices and tools to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.
  7. Arizona mines use cattle to slow water runoff on tailings slopes by feeding oat hay and allowing cattle to graze down the slope while depositing organic matter and encouraging trails which help to reduce quick moving water.
  8. Utilize biofuel on cattle operations. The grain by-product of ethanol production, distillers grains, are fed to cattle as a nutritious source of energy.
  9. Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.

    Photo from Pinal Feeding.
  10. Protect open spaces through programs like conservation easements, to ensure ranchlands and wildlife habitats are protected from development for perpetuity.
  11. Utilize solar power to harness Arizona’s plentiful sun to power ranches including electric water pumps to provide water for cattle and wildlife.

    Photo from OX Ranch.
  12. Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff and to contain rain water for cattle and wildlife to drink.
  13. Provide habitat for ground nesting birds including the Bobwhite and Gambel’s Quail. 
  14. Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure decomposition and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.
  15. Participate in university research projects that aim to improve agricultural environmental practices.
  16. Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.

    Photo from OX Ranch.
  17. Practice Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve grasslands, soil, and wildlife habitat.
  18. Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.
  19. Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from University of Arizona Extension Agents to improve resource management. Ranchers also work with the university extension programs to receive a continued education.

    Photo from ZZ Cattle Co.
  20. Control invasive weeds and reduce plant fuel build-up on grazing land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.
  21. Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.
  22. Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.
  23. Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.
  24. Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water, and wildlife, and make improvements.

    Photo from Garcia Ranches.
  25. Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter.
  26. Improve plant density, work to eradicate invasive plant species and encourage native forages, promoting healthier rangelands, allowing cattle to graze and consume forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.
  27. Feed cattle crops that are grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.
  28. Use windmills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.

This is a short list compared to what is done on ranches to ensure the land is cared for properly. Work is also done to recognize others in the beef community who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.AZ Top 10

Meet Your Rancher: Jim and Jeanne O’Haco

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Photo by Kathy McCraine of Jim O’Haco

Ranchers: Jim and Jeanne O’Haco.

Arizona Beef Council: Where you are located?
Jim O’Haco: Our ranch is located 30 miles south of Winslow, Arizona sitting at an elevation of 6,200 – 7,000 feet. We raise mostly Black Angus cattle along with black baldy (Hereford/ Angus cross) cows who are bred each year to raise a calf. We sell first-calf heifers and bulls, along with calves in the spring and fall.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch.
Our story begins in 1898 when my grandfather Michel O’Haco came to this country from the Basque Pyrenees in Europe. He immigrated at the age of 14, landing at Ellis Island in New York and made his way cross-country to Phoenix. He had an uncle who was a sheep man around Wickenburg, who promised him work upon his arrival. He saved his money while working as a herder and eventually bought his own sheep, and thus the O’Haco Sheep Company was started.

For many years, he acquired land and continued to increase his sheep numbers and ranches. In 1946, he was the largest sheep man in Arizona, with properties all over the state, including summer ranges in the northern plateau and winter pastures in the Salt River Valley around Phoenix, Arizona.

My grandfather had 4 children, but only one son, MJ O’Haco, (my father). MJ was attending the University of Arizona when World War II broke out. He was assigned to the last cavalry unit but ended up in the infantry when the horses sank at sea; he served with honors as a Captain. At Nuremburg, Germany, MJ was shot twice in the back by a sniper while saving the life of a commanding officer, which left him paralyzed and unable to walk. At this point, my grandfather began dissolving his holdings, as he figured his only son would never be able to ranch. He kept his best properties, the Chevelon Butte Ranch and the Divide Ranch in Wickenburg.

After five long years, my father regained his health and married his Army nurse (my mother) in 1946, eventually having 8 children. My father returned to Chevelon Butte, and slowly began the transition from sheep to cattle. MJ continued to ranch until his death in 2001.

Fast forward and here is a short history about myself. I was born and raised in Winslow, attended the University of Arizona earning a degree in Animal Science and a minor in Range. I was accepted into veterinary school, but returned home and started running the daily operations of the ranches, which at one time consisted of four ranches and a small farm. My entire life has been devoted to the outdoors and agriculture.

Pictured: Jeanne and Jim O’Haco, Senator Jeff Flake, and Mike O’Haco

As we’ve learned from our past blog posts, conservation and proper land management are important topics. When did you start conservation projects? What is an example of a conservation project?

Range conservation projects have been a part of our outfit for as far back as I can remember. My father switched from sheep to cattle in entirety in 1948 -1950. He fenced the perimeter, then cross fence pastures, as well as built earthen tanks to provide water to the livestock.

In 1995-1997, the ranch started discussions with the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AGFD), the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD), and the Natural Resource Conservation Service on a water project we now call High Point. A severe drought had been in existence for several years, and the concept of developing a well that could gravity flow water lines to several different pastures and open country that had no water was the vision and goal. Management agreements with the AGFD, ASLD and USFS were finalized, and the project began in 1998 when a well was drilled that would supply 40 gallons a minute from the depth of 1,350 feet, operated off a 35KW generator with a submersible pump.

A 100,000-gallon storage tank was erected on a state section, on the highest point on the ranch, and connected plastic pipelines. As time and money permitted, more lines were trenched over the following ten years, with drinker troughs strategically placed in pastures that needed additional water. To date, with gravity flow, approximately 35 drinkers (steel troughs holding between 750-1000 gallons of water), and 42 miles of buried pipeline, supply water to 60,000 acres. The last trough is 25-30 miles from the storage tank, all watered by gravity flow.

By providing more water throughout the ranch, it has improved range conditions with the distribution of animals ensuring they are not walking to the same water daily and killing vegetation. The water is cleaner, as it comes out of a storage tank, then to the water drinkers. The average rainfall in the area is between 12-18 inches per year, with an average being 16 inches. All earthen tanks are still cleaned regularly and maintained for rain water and run off. We have not had to haul water since 1998.

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Jim, pictured at the water tank. Photo by Arable Media.


How do these water improvement projects effect the wildlife on your ranch?
Water is provided year-round for all animals and critters. After our cattle are removed, the lines are not shut off. AGFD helps maintain High Point Well while we provide the daily operation of starting and maintaining the lines and AGFD helps with the fuel expense and replacement of generators when needed._MG_6935What restoration projects have you done on the ranch?
Grassland habitat restoration has taken place across 15,000 acres through mechanical mastication of invasive juniper and other brush to enhance grass growth and restore habitat restoration by at least 30%.

Supported by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Apache- Sitgreaves National Forest Black Mesa District, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Antelope Foundation, and Winslow Elk Habitat Partnership Committee, we’ve restored, enhanced and/or improved livestock management practices on more than 20,000 acres of private, state, and federal lands.

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Photo of the ranch by Arable Media.


What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
One is being able to produce good, quality livestock. The other is to improve the habitat I have been blessed with, leaving it better for the next generation.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Hard work.

The most important question! What is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like it prepared?
A juicy cheeseburger, well done, with all the fixings is the best!!


Meet Your Rancher: The Murphys

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Ranchers: John and Joan Murphy of the OX Ranch

Ranch Location: 15 miles northwest of Congress, Arizona off the Date Creek Road.

Arizona Beef: Tell us about your ranch.
The Murphys: The OX Ranch is a desert ranch consisting of 65,000 acres of private, BLM, and Arizona State Trust land located 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The ranch also leases a 30,000-acre summer grazing allotment in the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff, Arizona. We are a cow/calf ranch with 650 Black Angus, Hereford, and Brahma-cross cows, using Angus bulls of a diverse genetic base. Operating in harsh desert conditions, our goal is to produce a smaller-framed animal needing less forage to sustain itself, the ability to thrive in high temperatures, calve unassisted on the open range, and the genetic potential to grade choice or prime at the harvesting facility.

Animal health is a primary focus. The ranch has been an active participant in the Beef Quality Assurance Program for many years and is registered with Premise ID, and the National Animal Identification System.

What have you done to improve the ranch?
The OX Ranch has an enormous amount of history and through work with various partnerships (i.e. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona State Land Department, University of Arizona and UA Extension Service, and the Prescott Audubon Society) we have been able to take a run-down and abused ranch in the desert and return it to a healthy state, both economically and environmentally. A few completed projects include the eradication of invasive species in two riparian areas, the fencing of three riparian areas to allow controlled grazing, the placement of solar pumps on desert wells to assure reliable water for cattle and wildlife, and much more.


What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
It is our belief that few individuals in the state realize how many ranchers work to improve the health and productivity of the land they’re managing.


How does wildlife benefit from the improvements made to the ranch?
We enjoy the many varieties of wildlife and love seeing our winter flock of Canada geese fly overhead several times daily. The geese, as well as our deer herd, are seen in the alfalfa fields regularly. Both lakes attract waterfowl year around, and a pair of blue heron have taken up residence. All the watering facilities on the ranch have access for wildlife in compliance with NRCS specifications designed to protect all kinds of desert dwellers. All new cross-fencing is wildlife friendly with smooth lower wires. Quail nesting habitat was created by piling up vegetation removed from the fields, offering protection from predators. An island was constructed in the lake to promote safety for ground nesting waterfowl.

Many trees have been planted for birds, and provide a continuous route from the lake, along the fields, and on down through the riparian area. As recommended by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, this assures connectivity of habitat – an important aspect for birds. Audubon Arizona, in their state publication, recently identified 5 Arizona birds whose numbers have declined from 63%-93% due to loss of habitat and development. Maintaining ranch lands was cited as an important way to counteract this trend.

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What practices on the ranch have made a difference in how you raise cattle?
Many practices have affected our ranching business, with the sustainability of the land always key to those efforts. Just the investment in numerous water facilities, including 20 solar well pumps, 9 well pumps on grid power, 57 stock ponds, 26 water storage tanks, 138 drinkers made from metal or concrete along with 150 miles of fencing, 150 miles of dirt roads, and 43 miles of water pipeline, has enabled the use of thousands of additional acres of grazing land by cattle and wildlife, allowing for a more consistent annual impact. We have been able to increase our herd size, and have modified our grazing methods and rotation of pastures to improve forage health. By employing the most stringent health practices available and having the willingness to scrutinize and invest in herd bulls that are both geographically suited to our area, and have the best genetic makeup for our specific needs, we have made significant improvements in herd and carcass quality. All these steps have translated into higher production and greater profitability in the product we market.


What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We have a passion for caring about the land and caring for the land – that is what ranchers have done historically and continue to do.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
John – Hard work
Joan – Commitment