Powder River Rodeo Co. partners with IFA for high-performance feed formulas
Hank and Lori Franzen of Riverton, Wyoming, are 2019 recipients of the Remuda Award presented in October by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for providing the best, most consistent pen of bucking horses and creating opportunities for riders to score well. In December in Las Vegas, they’ll find out the results of a long list of additional accolades and nominations, including PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year.
Their son, John, who is integral to the business, told the PRCA in October,
“This is super humbling and we are awfully tickled. This is a lifetime achievement for my folks. The best thing about the Remuda Award is what it means having the best overall herd of bucking horses... This is just as good or better than winning a horse of the year award because this recognizes not one of your horses, but all of your horses.”
Breed for genetics
The Franzens have a strong breeding program and run 350 horses on their ranch in Riverton, Wyoming. They work with IFA Nutritionist Dr. Jared Judy and the team at the Draper Feed Mill to formulate the right supplements and nutrition program that has proven to boost consistent performance and overall health for their livestock.
Genetics are carefully managed in their herd and have been producing champion stock for 35 years.
“We’re always fine-tuning what we do to keep those strong bucking traits alive in our herds,” Hank said. “We keep our bloodlines tight.”
The Powder River horses are known for their strength, size and athleticism.
“We have horses that are 1,250 to 1,500 pounds but buck like a 900-pound horse,” Hank said. “They’re light on their feet, but have a lot of size and power.”
Feed for performance
After finishing a successful rodeo event in Heber City, Utah, in November, Hank was on his way to Billings, Montana to wrap up what has been a banner year for the business. “We’ve had a great run this year,” Hank said as he journeyed to Montana. “IFA has definitely been apart of our success.”
Dr. Judy has been working to formulate a new, unique supplement produced by IFA that balances Omega fatty acids in livestock herds and improves performance and fertility.
“We saw a unique opportunity to show the benefits of Mega 3 to the Franzens and to help strengthen some of their great animals by using a product that has a high level of Omega 3 fatty acids,” Dr. Judy said.
“Due to the high quality of the protein and fats, Mega 3 has the potential to help top-performing animals reduce inflammation and to perform at high levels, and we figured that’s just what Powder River was looking for."
Hank said his operation, “breeds for genetics, but feeds for performance. You have to have the best of both in order to succeed and IFA gives us that with our horse feed and mineral package.”
Hank makes the trek to Draper himself to pick up 8 to 10 tons of feed for the horses and also brings back minerals for his neighboring ranchers.
Hank’s a committed IFA cooperative member for many reasons, the first of which is the customer service provided by IFA Sales Manager, Rex Larsen.
“He (Rex) has been a great asset to our program and strategy,” Hank said.
“He doesn’t just push product, but he cares about us and our end results and that shows from start to finish. Our whole objective is to have custom feed so we can control what’s in it and we’re really happy with the feed they make for us at the Draper Mill.”
Larson explains that IFA is committed to supporting diverse livestock producing members in a number of ways and Powder River is evidence of that.
“The Franzens are an amazing family running an amazing business that is really having an impact on the rodeo industry and we are privileged to partner with them.”
“We see the IFA’s Mega 3 product as being a benefit to our cattle producing members and their hard-working ranch horses as well,” Larsen said. “If we can help an athletic and genetically superior herd like the Franzen’s produce, then I think we have quite a few solutions for other producers of any size.”
A rodeo family
Hank Franzen grew up in Sidney, Montana, on a cattle ranch and won a rodeo scholarship to Casper College where he met Lori. Lori competed in barrel racing and breakaway roping, while Hank won the National Inter-Collegiate Bull Riding and All-Around titles in 1978 after competing in every category and setting records that are still unbroken today.
Together, Hank and Lori built up a stock business and continued to compete as riders as they multiplied their herds and rodeo contracts. They established Powder River Rodeo in the early 1980s and have been an IFA co-op member for many years.
“Rodeo is as strong now as it’s ever been,” Hank said.
“You’ve gotta love it to stay in it, we’ve learned that. We’re, of course, tied to agriculture, so there are day-to-day financial problems and the ups and downs that come with raising and feeding livestock. It keeps you pretty humbled, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Hank and Lori raised a son and daughter, John and Jill, who grew up traveling the rodeo circuit, earned four-year college degrees, and then returned with their spouses to support the family business.
“Rodeo has lasted through two World Wars, a Depression and into a new century,” Hank said.
“It’s lasted through generations of people who are now easily entertained with technology and such. But people still keep coming to watch rodeo and enjoy wholesome family entertainment together, alongside community members. There is a niche out there for raising livestock for rodeos and we’re sure enjoying it.”
“At the end of the day, your business is only as strong as your weakest link, so we always have to keep that in mind. We know people don’t show up to a rodeo to see me and Lori or whomever is organizing the event. Our stock is what put us on the map. People hire us for our stock. So we owe all our success to the animals.”
Powder River Rodeo has been nominated nine times as “Stock Contractor of the Year” with the PRCA and they all hope this is the year they actually win.
“Recognition for a lifetime of work is always a good thing,” Hank said. “There are bigger corporations from Texas and Oklahoma with people who invest in their business to help them succeed. But Lori and I built our business the old-fashioned way and we sure are proud of our results so far.”
Written by Stacie Duce and originally published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 85, no. 4) Winter 2019. Photos were provided by the Franzen family.