Welcome to Rocky Mountain Irish Black® Cattle

(970) 259-6259

Our Goal

It is our goal to provide high quality Irish Black® & Irish Red® bulls to commercial cattle producers who are interested in improving the quality of the cattle they produce. 

About Us


The Van Soelen's

Tom is from Santa Fe, NM and Cheri is from Lakewood, CO.  We met at Ft. Lewis College here in Durango, CO. With B.S. & B.A. degrees in biology, history and A.A. degrees in ag. we started outfitting, raising boys and now include raising purebred cattle.  


Irish Black® Cattle


"The Irish Black® and Irish Red® breed was founded by cattleman and genetic scholar, Maurice Boney during the 1960s and 70s."      

"Today, the genetic power of an Irish Black or Irish Red produces a highly fertile, well balanced animal exhibiting excellent beef industry performance. Irish Blacks and Irish Reds are coveted by purebred producers for their rewarding economic returns, and sought after by progressive commercial producers for their consistent quality and value." - IBCA 


Commercial Cattle

If you're looking to improve your commercial cow herd, then look no further!  Rocky Mountain Irish Blacks have the bulls to improve your profit margin. Explore our site to see what the consistent genetics of the Irish Blacks did for our herd and why we became breeders of these phenomenal cattle.

How we got involved with Irish Black® Cattle

Our History


We are a family run business that takes pride in our family, our business and the livestock we that produce. We have always made our living from the beautiful land in Southwest Colorado.  Tom & Cheri started outfitting folks in the Weminuche Wilderness in S.W. Colorado in 1986.  First working for outfitters, then purchasing an outfit in 1989 and raising four boys in the process. In addition to the outfitting we had a small herd of commercial cows.  Initially we started out mostly with bottle babies given to us by neighbors.

In 2008 we sold the outfitting business and expanded our cattle operation. In '09 purchased an additional herd of 68 cows.That is when we were introduced to  the Irish Black® breed and we purchased two IB bulls. (See our "science project story" below.) It didn’t take us long to figure out that Irish Black® cattle were a commercial producer's dream come true for raising quality beef!  The next year we bought a small herd of Registered Irish Blacks® and began producing these fantastic cattle.

It was such a blessing to have our boys be able to develop a work ethic in our family businesses.  Our boys have always worked along side us packing, guiding hunters, branding, and helping with the cattle. They have been involved in 4H competing in shooting sports and showing market steers. They began competing in roping in Jr. high, high school and college rodeos. The two older boys have now started their own families while the younger two are in college and competing in college rodeos.

Why Choose Irish Black® Bulls



These bulls love what they do! 

   This was our old herd bull and we used him until he was nine. In addition to breeding our cows, we used him on our first calf heifers as well. His Birthweight was 58 pounds and his mature weight was 1890 pounds. 

  • High Fertility 50 - 75 cows per bull
  • Large Scrotum
  • Longevity
  • Our second year using Irish Blacks one of our bulls died and a single bull serviced 84 cows.  The following spring we calved out within 45 days with all but one cow being bred.



These cows don't lay around, but will cover a lot of ground looking for feed.  

  • Larger Pelvis Area
  • Smaller teats and no pendulous udders
  • Longevity, currently we have a few cows that are 14 years old and still producing quality calves
  • Ease of calving & high maternal instincts



We love calving season.  These little guys are strong when they are born. They get moving and nursing right away.  We rarely have any calving problems.

  • Light birth weights
  • Vigorous calves at birth
  • Shorter gestation period (277 days)
  • Early maturity, calves finish @ 12-14 months, per a feedlot study
  • Excellent average daily gain and feed conversion rates



To date we have sold bulls in ten different states.  They range from southern Arizona and Mississippi north to Wyoming on up to Oregon. They thrive at sea level and range up to 10,000 feet in elevation.  They thrive in the heat and in cold weather.  All the bulls have adapted well to their new homes.

  • PAP scores - The last PAP test that we did on our yearling bulls, the highest score was a 42 with the average being 36!  Our advantage is that our bulls are raised at 7000' which is ideal for producers interested in avoiding brisket issues

Genetic Purity/Consistency


More than 40 years of closed book line-breeding in Irish Black cattle creates a small gene pool. Genetic consistency of Irish Blacks and Irish Reds enables more reliable transmission of desirable, predictable genetic traits.

  • One person described them as "Cookie cutter" calves
  • Moderate framed cattle
  • You'll love the consistency

Carcass Quality


These steaks are out of a 1/2 IB steer that one of our boys raised for 4-H. They show great marbeling without excessive back fat.

  • High carcass weights
  • 60% plus cutout ratios
  • Top yield grade scores
  • Premium carcass performance
  • Tender succulent meat

Feed Lot Study*


Feedlot Performance 

Irish Black and Irish Red genetics produce cattle with optimum feed efficiency that are ideally suited for feedlot development. In a feedlot test conducted by Diamond H Livestock with steers harvesting in June 2012, 105 head of half-blood Irish Black sired steer calves out of Angus-base cows went into the feedlot in January 2012 averaging 542 pounds. All 105 head of half-blood Irish Black steers harvested in June 2012 within a 3-week period at ages 12-14 months old. The gross out weight of these steers at harvest was 1,326 pounds per animal. This feedlot test proved half-blood Irish Black steer calves performed over 21% more effciently than 

the average US beef feedlot steer. These Irish Black sired steers saved $196 per head in feed cost compared to the cost of feeding the average US beef steer of the same weights! 

Feedlot Performance Study Data (June 2012) 

50% Percent (Half-blood) Irish Black/Irish Red steers 

Average daily gain= 3.95#
Conversion= 4.79 # of feed for 1.0 # of gain
Feed cost per # of gain= $.83
Average carcass yield = 64.51%,
Graded = 60% choice, 40% select,
Yield Grades = 16 head #1, 55 head #2, 33 head #3, & 1 head #4 

US Average Feedlot steer 

Feedlot ADG= 3.30#
Feedlot conversion=6.09 # of feed for 1.0 # of gain Feedlot cost/lbs. of gain=$1.08 

*©Diamond H Livestock

About our bulls

The bulls shown below are all "Grass Developed" at high altitude and their ages are around 17-18 months.  Just getting ready to go to work for you!  All of our Irish Black® cattle are registered with the Irish Black Cattle Association(IBCA) . The IBCA is the only registry for Irish Black® cattle.


Something to think about

What is the real cost for your bull?

The following letter is from a producer in Montana to fellow IB producers. It provides some real insights to what the REAL costs are for an angus bull vs. an Irish Black bull.


Hi Everybody,

I am helping a customer of mine with some projections and analysis for their herd. I found a recent article to be extremely helpful for me to find a price for our purebred bulls that does not underprice their value. Also, this is a perfect financial tool to prove to your buyer how your Irish Black Bull will make them money. It also makes the argument for culling their existing beef bulls and replacing with Irish Blacks. I did some analysis for my customer using data on the average price of an Angus Bull from recent Angus Bull Sales in their state. Here is the link to the Angus Sale Results so you can make your own calculations for your area or for your customer's area:


The article I discovered is published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that sets out the formula for calculating the breeding expense of a bull. Here is the link to that article:


Using data from Montana Angus Bull Sales in February 2018, I got an average price for an Angus Bull in Montana at $4853 which, surprisingly to me, is up from $4599 for the same Angus Sales in 2017.

Here is my analysis for Montana Angus vs. Montana Irish Black using 25 head per Angus bull and 60 head per Irish Black bull:

Learn More by giving us a call!

Another advantage to an Irish Black®/Irish Red® bull is their longevity.  Our first IB bull serviced cows until he was 9 years old! Our current herd sire is 7.  You will notice that the table below and the information provided by the University of Nebraska only takes an Angus bull out to four years of service. 

Find out more


WWWWWOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!! Looking at these calculations our  Irish Black Bulls should be priced at $14,445 each ($65.66 cost of Angus bull X 220 Cows bred) to equal what Montana Angus Bull Producers are receiving for their purebred bull product. And, if you calculated the Irish Black Bull at 6 years of work, his price should be up over $21,000 when he replaces an Angus Bull!

This does NOT include an Irish Blacks contribution of the financial benefit of:

1. Longevity of bull performance. Here, cost per cow drops even more with IB Bull working - 5 years = $24.36, 6 years = $20.89

2. Value of uniformity in calves at sale time.

3. Weaning weight averages increasing for herd.

3. Fast maturity and fast finish.

4. Value of replacements.

5. Fertility of percentage females when held or sold as replacements.

6. Mothering ability of percentage females when held or sold as replacements.

PLEASE CONSIDER THE COMMERCIAL VALUE OF OUR BULLS. IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE EDUCATE OUR BUYERS! Real cattlemen will pay for QUALITY and they will not even look at OR CONSIDER using cheap genetics.

Our "Science Project" Commercial Cow Herd


The story:

We have added this information, not so much to sell any of our commercial cattle, but a testimonial to what IB's can do for a herd.  So as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so we have included a lot of them.  Below are photos of our various cows, calves and replacement heifers. 

Amazing results on Commercial cows

Because of the nature of our country and ranch we are not running a huge number of cows, only about 100 or so mother cows. As mentioned earlier, in the spring of '09 we bought 69 bred cows that came entirely from cull cattle. The man we purchased these cattle from, had no idea how old the cows were.  He said all he could tell us was the date he acquired these cows.  He had put this herd together by buying cull cows one or two at a time from the sale barn. Needless to say we had quite a colorful herd.  All of the cows had at least three brands on them, some had five!  The cows were black, red, grey, Charolais, Hereford, roan, brindled, polled, horned, thin built, thick built, fine boned, some had dairy traits and one was a Brahman looking cow. We had absolutely no consistency in our experiment herd.

We bought two Irish Black bulls and put them to work on our combined herd of 115 cows.  Our neighbors thought we were crazy - not only because we paid for those cows, but we only turned two bulls out with them. When we preg checked them in the fall, all of them were bred, except for one really old gummer.

The next spring, all of the cows calved unassisted (even a few first calf heifers that we'd raised). They all had 65-80# calves.  We also had three sets of twins.  All of the calves were the same size and shape.  They were all black or black baldly by the time we branded, with the exception of two grey calves from our of Charolais type cows.

Our calves have topped the marked at every local sale barn, because of the consistency.  Consistency you would never believe if you had seen our "science project" herd of cull cows. At that point we had neighbors asking if we had any Irish Black bulls for sale.  We kept about two thirds of our first crop of half Irish Black heifer calves as replacements. (See the video of our year & half old bred heifers)  We wish we'd taken more pictures of the cows, but we were pretty embarrassed by them.

After seeing the "extreme makeover" in one generation in our commercial herd, we purchased a small herd of pure bred Irish Blacks® for the purpose of breeding bulls to help improve commercial herds.  

When our boys showed 1/2 IB steers in 4H market classes.  They always performed very well in the ultra sound contest. The first steer our son showed was 14 months old, weighed 1175#, had a 13 inch ribeye and 3/10" back-fat with a huge amount of marbling.  The ultra sound technician actually called a few people over to see the screen!

Mutt herd cows with their calves

These calves were just five months old when we took these photos.

Replacement Heifers

These are the yearling heifers that we kept from the "mutt" cows the first year we crossed the cows with an Irish Black® bull.  We had 100% conception rate on these girls and they all calved unassisted!

Contact Us

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Rocky Mountain Irish Black Cattle

"but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" - Joshua 24:15

Tom & Cheri Van Soelen

186 County Rd. 228, Durango, CO 81301, us

(970) 259-6259


About our brand

T Lazy S V

Our T Lazy S V brand is both a Colorado & New Mexico registered brand.   It was initially created by Tom's grandfather, Theodore Van Soelen. He was a renowned cowboy artist in Santa Fe, NM. He was known for his lithographs of cowboy life in the early 20th century.  We also have some of his numered lithographs for sale.

Proud Member of the IBCA