Posted: 3/25/2023

Ranching A Family Affair For Joey Williams


Ranching A Family Affair For Joey Williams

By Allie Bohus

Two-time Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roper Joey Williams likes to rope calves…Fast. Growing up on her family’s 5th generation working cattle ranch in rural Northwestern South Dakota provided Williams, formerly Joey Painter, with a solid foundation for horsemanship and animal husbandry.

She attended Black Hills State University (BHSU), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She met her husband PRCA Team Roper Taylor Williams while on the women’s rodeo team, where competed in all the women’s events: breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping and goat tying. The four-time National High School Rodeo Finals qualifier and four time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier won the 2012 College National Finals Rodeo in the breakaway. Following her undergrad, the ever-ambitious Williams obtained her Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota.

She and her husband now call Volborg, Montana, home on his family’s ranch. The couple have three children, Landon, Carson, and Shay. Although no day is the same when running a cattle ranch for a living; typically, this time of year Williams and her husband feed cows in the morning and ride horses in the afternoon. “The coldest time of year is when we have the most time to ride,” she noted. The Williams’ breed, raise and train horses, including her top breakaway horse, Baybe Bullet, “Baybe” who was the 2022 Nutrena Horse of the Year (also formerly Taylor’s heel horse that carried him to three consecutive Montana Circuit Finals Heeling Championships). Solid horsepower is an essential component when working cattle. After the snow eases up, the Williams’ will start calving around the first of April. About 6 8 weeks later, brandings will start. An incredibly accomplished horseman and roper, Williams is not above administering vaccinations.

“The older I get, the quicker I am to grab a vaccine gun,” she chuckled. Working cattle horseback (such as when branding) is a great way to keep a horse’s mind sane, however there are times when modern amenities come in handy. For example, if there is a sick calf that is in timber and is not easily accessible, they rely on a dart gun which affords them the ability to doctor the animal easily. After the calves are all branded, they are then trailed to the summer range and turned out. Bulls are turned out a short while later (typically they naturally breed their cows, however if they want to introduce new genetics, they may AI – artificially inseminate – their replacement heifers from time to time).

Cattle are rotated to a few different grazing pastures during the summer months until fall when the calves are sold. Probably the most time-consuming aspect of the summertime is haying. The Williams’ put up all of their own hay, which is a large undertaking. When the feed gets low and the snow starts to fall, everything is gathered horseback in the timber and trailed a little closer to home to ship (calves) and preg check (which is done by a vet who ultrasounds the cow to determine the gestation of the calf).

Ranching is very much a family affair for Williams. Her horses are a large part of that family. The solid foundation put on her horses on the ranch affords her a sane well-rounded, sure-footed, equine counterpart. A truly humble Williams is exceedingly grateful to have the opportunity to rope professionally at the highest level while also spending time with the family on the ranch. “Making the NFR is something I dreamed about as a kid, so when breakaway roping gained the momentum it did and I had the horsepower to go down the road I just took the opportunity,” said Joey. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know that you’ve accomplished a goal that you’ve always worked so hard for.”