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Dunning, NE

About The Ranch


Downing Ranch is a family-run commercial cow/calf and stocker operation. Located 12 miles southwest of Dunning, which is situated south of the confluence of the Middle Loup River and Dismal River. The ranch borders the Nebraska National Forest at Halsey with the Dismal River running through it. Consisting of 7000 acres of deeded land and 4200 acres of leased forest. The operation consists of leased forest ground, river-bottom ground, hard sandhills, soft & choppy sandhills, and sub-irrigated hay meadows near the building headquarters.

With a focus on growth and expansion, the Downing’s have invested in their business by attending Ranching for Profit schools, past membership on several EL (Executive Link) Boards, and currently participate with the TLC (Total Leadership Commitment) Board. They believe in learning new concepts to meet their goals and are “all about the cattle”. They practice high-intensity grazing which is mob grazing with a purpose, this practice has improved their carrying capacity and the grasses in their pastures.

Infrastructure improvements to accommodate high-intensity grazing include developing their water capacity with solar wells and 30-foot tanks. In the summer, the cow/calf pairs run on the forest ground and the yearlings run on the ranch. The calves will go to backgrounding lots in the winter and the cows will utilize corn stock residue if necessary, adjusting their operation annually to maximize resources and optimize profit. Calving is in April and May with branding the end of May. The Downing’s contract out the haying on the ranch which frees up their time to focus on the cattle and fencing which reduces overheads on equipment.

Tim and Bonnie believe in working smarter and not harder and that you never work a day if you do what you love. The wonderful and fragile hills are God’s country, and the quality of life is unmatched anywhere else.

The Mentors

Tim, Bonnie, & Brett Downing

Tim was born and raised in the Hyannis area. He attended college at Casper College and Chadron State College. He was part of the traveling livestock judging and in rodeo teams. Tim and Bonnie met while attending Chadron State College. After Bonnie finished college, Tim and Bonnie lived in a Wyoming and Nebraska before buying their first ranch in South Dakota. After moving back to Nebraska they purchased their current ranch in 2008, they have expanded and worked to build the existing ranching operation.

Bonnie has lifelong experience in agriculture and was born and raised in the Fullerton area on a farm and feedlot. She attended Chadron State College and attained her Bachelor’s degree with emphasis on marketing and banking. Bonnie has an Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation through the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and is a licensed real estate agent who works as an independent contractor with Agri Affiliates Inc. She holds a certified general appraisal license in NE, SD and KS and can sell real estate in NE. She is also actively involved with the management work on the ranch.

Tim and Bonnie have been married for 35 years and have two children. Their son Brett lives and works on the ranch. Their daughter Taylor lives in Elkhorn with her husband, Raymond, and works as a marketing manager for Ringwalt & Liesche Co. Bonnie’s Dad, Don Kilday, has a ranch that joins the Downing Ranch, and they help him out on occasion.

Tim and Bonnie’s son, Brett, attended college at Central Community College for Animal Science. He recently returned to the ranch and lives nearby. Brett is actively involved in the daily ranch operations. He manages the ranch's grazing systems and the stocker programs, buying/selling. The Downings also raise horses and Brett handles the starting and breaking of the ranch's horses.

The Intern


An intern will work closely with Tim, Bonnie, and Brett on a variety of ranching tasks as their capabilities allow, including but not limited to: rotational grazing systems, pasture management and evaluation, cattle moves, cattle health monitoring, cattle care, and branding.

An intern will have an opportunity to learn about the stocker program; record-keeping, costs associated, and monitoring markets. The Downings are willing to teach an intern any aspect of the ranch operation that they are interested in exploring.

Horseback riding experience is not required. However, horses are utilized for moving cattle in the forest and there is an opportunity to learn how to work with young horses and ride if desired.

ATVs and side by side’s are also used.

Weekly ranch meetings: Intern will have an opportunity to take part in (WOTB) working on the business and (WITB) working in the business meetings.

Additional responsibilities as needed and as per request.

Desired Skills

· Valid Driver’s License

· Self-motivated, however easy-going and relaxed

· Humor is an added asset

· Interest in learning

The Details

Length of Internship: 3 Months

Stipend: Downing Ranch will pay a monthly stipend estimated at $2,100.00/month.

General work hours: The typical work week is 7:30 a.m. – whenever the work is completed Monday through Saturday. Hours may vary depending on the season and activities. The regular day off is Sunday.

Housing and Meals: A fully furnished bunkhouse is provided on the ranch and has a kitchen and laundry available. Cell phone service and wireless internet are available.

Vehicles: A vehicle or side-by-side will be available for ranch work.

Additional items the intern should bring: Bring any personal items you need. Gear for all weather, sun, and rain protection. Work boots, riding boots, and own horse tack if preferred.

Living at the Downing Ranch: The ranch is located 31 miles from Stapleton and 59 miles from North Platte, both have all the basic amenities. North Platte has shopping, places to eat and drink, and a hospital. North Platte is also home to Nebraska Land Days and the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

Educational Activities: The intern will have the opportunity to attend select workshops and participate in various ranch tours.


The Sandhills Ranch Internship Program is NOT currently accepting applications. Questions can be directed to KyLee Kime or call or text 308-340-2781.
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