Maxwell Ranch

“Service to Colorado State University and the beef industry.”

Maxwell Ranch sign

The CSURF Maxwell Ranch is a working cattle ranch, owned and operated by Colorado State University Research Foundation. It is located about 35 miles North of Ft. Collins, CO and is comprised of approximately 12,000 acres of rangeland, 10,000 in Colorado & 2,000 in Wyoming.   CSURF operates the ranch as a working cow/calf operation with a typical carrying capacity of 280 to 300 mother cows. The current breeds of cattle are Angus/Hereford crossed cows with Simmental bulls being used as a terminal cross. Proceeds from the calf sales are the main source of income for ranching operations.  Great efforts are made to keep the ranch operating in a self-sustainable manner both in terms of finances as well as maintaining natural resources to support the cow herd for the long term.

The Maxwell Ranch’s mission is to provide Colorado State University, industry, and society an economically sustainable working cattle ranch as a living laboratory for teaching, research, and demonstration with special emphasis on beef cattle production and range land.

The Maxwell Ranch’s vision is to support and serve the University by optimizing ranch assets to create a model 21st Century working cattle ranch.  Maxwell Ranch serves to anticipate and provide for the next era of ranching by being flexible and adapting to future models of the industry.

Research Projects and Partnerships

Maxwell Ranch is not directly tied to any specific department of CSU but instead is open to utilization by all of CSU’s departments. Research on the ranch is conducted by faculty and graduate students from various Departments on campus.  Departments that the ranch has cooperated with in the past include:  Animal Sciences, Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Soil and Crop Sciences, Equine Sciences, and Wildlife Biology.  Examples of past research include artificial insemination trials for various cow synchronization protocols, biological control of Dalmatian Toadflax, and Loco Weed & Larkspur research related to cattle and horses.  Currently the ranch is cooperating with the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship in a Larkspur research project, Geyers (Foothills) Larkspur can have significant implications on cattle operations in the western foothills as a native plant that is poisonous to cattle. The ranch has an active partnership with a semen company doing data collection by breeding cows with their young sires. The ranch is also directly involved with the cattle industry through speaking engagements.

Summer Internship Position

2019 Summer Internships are full, please check back in 2020

We want people who are self motivated, teachable, and reliable.  This is a great opportunity to experience many aspects of a commercial cattle operation.  Activities include calving, doctoring, branding, synchronizing cows for breeding, fencing, range monitoring, and other ranch related activities.  MUST HAVE VALID DRIVER’S LICENSE.

For more information, contact: Joel Vaad, Ranch Manager – (970) 218-1187 –


  • Interns will be required to live at the ranch
  • Dates of the internship are from May 1st to August 1st
  • Interns need to be able to lift calves for recording birth weights (as much as 100+ lbs.)
  • No pets are allowed
  • It is understood that students are not finished with classes by the start of the internship, in the past we have been able to work around class schedules and finals
  • We use horses and ATVs, if you have a horse – we encourage you to bring it to use (pasture is provided for your horse during the internship)

Teaching/Research Request

The CSURF Maxwell Ranch was donated to serve as a research and teaching facility to be utilized by CSU, for the betterment of the beef industry and for range ecology.  Please review our teaching and research prioritization guidelines (found on form) before submitting your request.

Please follow the link for the Teaching/Research Request Form.  For more information, contact: Joel Vaad, Ranch Manager – (970) 218-1187 – (submit all requests to this email)

Transportation Reimbursement Request

We encourage visitors from CSU, especially classes.  There may be reimbursement available for the cost of up to 3 passenger van rentals.  All rental processes, liability, and drivers are the visitor’s responsibility.  Please fill out our Transportation Reimbursement Form to qualify.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Up to 3 vans allowed
  • Rental Processes, Liability, and Drivers are visitor's responsibility
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


The ranch was donated to the CSU Research Foundation in the 1970’s by Fred and Maude Maxwell as a working cattle operation. It was their wish that it would be utilized by CSU for the betterment of the beef industry. The current Manager of Maxwell Ranch is Joel Vaad. He came to the ranch in 1994 as an intern from the Dept. of Animal Sciences and was later hired in 1997 as the ranch Foreman. In 2004 he was promoted to Ranch Manager. He and his family live at the ranch and are an integral part of daily life on the ranch.

To learn more about the history of Maxwell Ranch, please view this Guest Lecture from Joel Vaad