LET’S TALK REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE AND CATTLE
Our Head Office Ranch is located in the middle of vast rolling hills that would make it very challenging to grow crops on. With the cattle, we are able to utilize the rolling hills and the abundance of different grass species it grows. The term “Regenerative Agriculture” is becoming more and more well known. Funny enough, many ranchers like ourselves, have been taking care of their ecosystem along with their cattle from the beginning – without realizing the positive impact it truly has.
Animals play a large role in Regenerative Agriculture. Grasslands actually NEED ruminants such as Cattle and Sheep to regenerate. How does this all work? There are many different practices ranchers and farmers follow but I will talk on what we do at the ranch!
Throughout the Spring and Summer months, we do something called rotational grazing. We are constantly moving our herd of cattle from pasture to pasture in a rotational manner. Cattle are only taking from the tops of the grass where the most nutrients lie and are moved to more grass before they are forced to pull the grass from the root to consume. By taking just the tips of the grass, this allows for grass regrowth in a short amount of time along with the cattle consuming the highest amount of nutrients from the grass. By constantly moving the cattle, they are always getting fresh grass, allowing for grass regrowth, fertilizing with their manure, and trampling weeds and these things are key to create carbon sequestration and regenerating the pastureland.
We are fortunate to be able to include chickens into the rotation as well. The chickens at the Head Office ranch get moved onto some of the cattle pastureland where they follow behind the cattle in their rotation.
This year, we are hoping to add some Sheep into the mix as well!
During the fall months, our cattle are moved to pasture land that was untouched throughout the entire summer, making it quite dense and tall grass.
We try and add any additional organic inputs to the fields that could use some extra fertilization. Any excess manure we have around the ranch is used to spread on pastureland in the fall before winter rolls in.
During the winter months, our cattle at the Head Office only eat Hay. For those not familiar with the term, Hay is dried forages
When it comes to our watering system, we pump water from our main water source on the ranch – a large pond that sits between rolling hills and is fed by several different streams around the ranch. With a pump, the water is pulled through pipes that pull water to the highest point on the ranch where the water gets stored in a large holding tank. Using gravity, the water is then distributed to different pastures for the animals. This system is quite handy for rotational grazing – however you can bet your bottom dollar I have become quite good at running irrigation lines to all these pastures!
As the irrigation lines freeze come winter, we are fortunate enough to use the natural springs that continue to flow through most of the winter for the animals, or our back up automatic waterers. None the less – ranching wouldn’t be ranching without water issues. Maybe in my next life I will be a plumber! I hear they make decent money anyways!