Rachel just figured out what a fitness class has to do with keeping your farm or ranch going.
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It’s that time of year again when we ask you to support On Pasture. Here’s why: We have a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that covers a lot of On Pasture’s operating expenses through October of 2019. BUT – it requires that readers provide a $15,000 annual match. No match = […]
Folks have asked us to share your thoughts on what could make the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service better for you. The reason? The new Farm Bill is being written right now and it will include changes to the NRCS. Those changes will dictate funding for NRCS services that provide farmers and ranchers with financial […]
Hello, On Pasture Community! We have another question from one of your fellow-community members. We all have this issue of grasses going dormant for part of the year, so we bet you’ve got some experience and some suggestions for Pete: I have a 40-acre ranch in California, in the Sierra foothills below Yosemite. I also […]
This summer hasn’t been a great one for farmers and ranchers across the country. Fires cover almost a million acres in Montana alone, and hurricanes and flooding have hit Texas and Florida hard. People have been pitching in to help, like the police and cowboys driving cattle through the middle of the town of Dayton, […]
As we head into fall, we’re also headed into conference season, the time when you can go out and learn new things to help you make your operation better. Want to learn more about stockdogs and how you can work with yours? There’s a workshop for that. Want to meet up with Greg Judy and […]
Another On Pasture reader has a question and we need your help! How do you manage the vegetation under and around your permanent fence lines organically? We raise hair sheep and Angus cattle together in one flerd, and use electronet fencing for daily moves. Our perimeter fencing on our land is high-tensile 5-strand fence powered […]
What do you do about water in the winter, especially if your cattle are grazing the whole season? These Alberta ranchers have a variety of solutions. Some use frost-free nose pumps, others pump water, and some let the cattle use the snow around them. It turns out, having water in each pasture isn’t necessary. “We […]
Use what you’ve got now to extend your grazing a little longer this season.
A question on irrigating pasture was brought up last week. Here in Indiana, there are typically only portions of three months where moisture may be lacking including July, August, and September. The first question to consider is the water source. It will take a very good one. One acre inch of water is a lot […]
Here’s how the Wessel family got help to add more water, and set up their grazing plan.
Government agencies are relying on ranchers’ expertise to help guide federal management of plants and wildlife. In turn, ranchers are seeking flexibility in their federal livestock grazing permits. Together they’re working towards healthy sage rangelands and economically viable livestock operations.
The ten concepts and principles outlined here are all employed daily by successful farmers and ranchers.
This project focuses on increasing big bluestem. But similar management could be used to promote other forages as well.
Darrell Yardley of Beaver, Utah started rotational grazing when drought reduced the amount of forage he was producing. Now he’s sold on the system saying, “If you want to get more out of your pasture, and you want your animals to look better and do better, this is the way to go. If you want […]
Native, perennial warm-season grasses produce well compared to cool-season grasses during the hot and dry weather, on soils with low moisture holding capacity, low pH, and low phosphorus levels.
We’re working on a series of articles that explore what the research tells us about grazing and soil carbon sequestration. It’s a complex topic, and as with all things science, there is a lot of background information that may not be covered in the papers themselves. So, before we take a deep dive into the […]
If you’ve heard that grazing is good for the planet because it can sequester more carbon in the soil, you’re not alone. The hypothesis goes like this: When livestock take a bite of grass, the grass plant sloughs off an equal amount of root mass below ground. That dead material is full of carbon. Microbes […]
Biodiversity – like having lots of different plants, bugs and wildlife in our pastures, some of which we might not even like – doesn’t always make managing our grazing easy. But before we wish away all that “difference,” here’s a story from the news desk at the Smithsonian Institute describing the important role biodiversity can […]
Last week we told you why we don’t use Brix to measure the value of forage in pasture. Our primary reason is that it’s not a very reliable tool for looking at the nutritional value of a specific plant. Another reason is that so many people have measured forage value for so long, that you […]
If you want to find out whether a change you’ve made is making a difference on the ground, you want to use a measurement technique that will give you reliable results every time. Brix is not that kind of measurement technique. Because Brix measurements are so susceptible to change based on weather, time of day, […]
I sometimes get in a hurry when I sit down to write. That sometimes causes me to have a bit of tunnel vision and I don’t get in enough detail due to lack of time or space in the article. That happened in August when I wrote about tall fescue and I heard about it, […]
Thanks to PennState Extension for this story! Mike Yezzi from Flying Pigs Farm shared his pastured pig production system at this year’s Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference. After Mike and his wife, Jen Small, bought their farm in 2000, they drove out to a local breeder to buy piglets with a handmade wire cage […]
We got a lot of comments on our last article about cow size and profit. Here, Kit Pharo weighs in. According to the USDA Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, the average Angus, Red Angus and Hereford cow weighs over 1,400 pounds. Mainstream seedstock producers have successfully out-Simmentalled the Simmentals. Unfortunately, in their attempt to wean […]
As Denice described in Success With Stockdogs, instinct is an important part of working with your dog. Here she gives examples of how, as trainers, we can work with, and amplify, those instincts. Ivy crawled through the squares of woven wire fence to begin working livestock at 13 weeks old. This was her first step […]
Here at the Dickinson Research and Extension Center, the old question kept coming back: “Would the extra calves really pencil out if the center stocked 1,100-pound cows instead of 1,400-pound cows?” And then more questions: “Would those small cows actually carry the load? Could they be competitive with mainstream beef production?” Our experience and data […]
We get a cross-section of livestock producers at the Ranching For Profit School. A session can include outfits with more than 10,000 cows and others with less than 100 attend the course. When it comes to enterprise selection and structure, most of the small places look like miniature versions of the large ones. That’s a […]
Stock dogs can be an incredible asset to a livestock producer or they can be cause for frustration. It has been a struggle to learn how to use stock dogs but it has been well worth the effort. The dogs save me thousands of steps and time, making all my work with stock easier and […]
Recent Dickinson Research Extension Center sales caused me to ponder the concept of adding a sheep for every cow. The center sold market cows on March 9 for $68.24 per hundredweight (cwt), or $995.58 per head, and a market ewe on March 13 for $71 per cwt, or $113.60 per head. When adjusted for body […]
Fly season may be coming to an end as summer draws to a close, but it’s never too early to get ready for next year.
This article is also available as a BeefWatch podcast, if you’d like to listen instead. Just go to iTunes here, or paste http://feeds.feedburner.com/unlbeefwatch into your podcast app. Cow depreciation is frequently the second or third largest expense to the cow-calf enterprise after feed, but since it is a non-cash expense, it is often overlooked by cow-calf […]
We’re selling all the time. It could be a calf, a car, an idea. It could be our experience and knowledge when we’re competing for a job or a pasture lease. But most of us aren’t comfortable as “salesmen.” Last week Dave talked about how most of us like to help people, and that if […]
Whether selling a crop, an animal, or competing for a job or pasture lease, selling is part of our success. Here’s how to become more comfortable doing it.
Last week we looked at how hunting leases might help you improve your bottom line. This week we have some examples for how to put those leases together. Hunting leases can be a useful tool for farmers looking to reduce deer populations, limit deer damage to crops, and provide the landowner with additional income. Whatever […]
This comes to us from Jimmy Doyle, South Dakota State Natural Resource Management Field Specialist, and iGrow a service of South Dakota State University Extension. As the fall harvest wraps up and this year’s calf crop is weaned, many producers may be nervous about what their paychecks will look like for 2016. In tough market conditions, […]
In the spirit of examining ways to acquire land through seller-financing, it is time to take a look at land contracts. The land contract is a variation of the owner-financed sale, with both mechanisms being a way for a farmer-buyer to come to terms with an owner-seller, independent of third-party bank financing or complementary to […]
There are fewer farm acquisition arrangements more attractive for new farmers than the owner-financed sale. It can be a win-win situation for both the farmer-buyer and owner-seller, as long as both parties are well aware of the risks before entering into an agreement. In an owner-financed sale, title is passed to the farmer-buyer, and the […]
Note from Kathy: I get this question a lot from folks who’d like to make money running livestock to manage vegetation. What they’re hoping I’ll give them is a solid dollar figure per animal. But it’s not so easy. Here, Dave Pratt tells you how to figure the right dollar figure for your business. There […]
This comes to On Pasture from Meg Belais, Restoration Project Manager & Analyst with The Freshwater Trust. The Freshwater Trust works with farmers and ranchers in the west to target and fund projects that create healthy rivers and streams and healthy and profitable working landscapes. You can learn more by visiting their website. At 5:15 […]
I sometimes worry that I might be living in an echo chamber. I constantly talk to people who are interested in grazing and soils and ranching. My mailbox is filled with magazines about modern grazing theory and progressive ranching. I have to set an egg timer each morning to make myself quit reading on-line articles […]
Sometimes we get so caught up in talking about the finer points of grazing management, fence building, cow size and more that we forget to talk about one of the most important “why’s” of what we’re trying to accomplish. So here is Betty Shahan, of Chromo, Colorado, to remind us. “My main goal is to […]
For a little perspective on how the world has changed, here’s what farming was like for one family about 60 years ago.
Half of the Ten Traits of a Successful Grazing Manager that Jeff Goodwin shared last week are about being a life-long learner. His survey of well-respected ranching and industry professionals showed that having inquisitive and passionate minds, being flexible and adaptive, understanding ecological principle contributed to their success. Goodwin also pointed out that “Most producers […]
“One winter, billy barr started collecting data from his home in the Colorado Rockies. Four decades later, his 12,000 records are a climate scientist’s goldmine.” – National Geographic billy barr (he doesn’t use capital letters for his name) lives in Gothic, Colorado, one of the coldest places on the planet. He moved there as a […]
“Ranchers are not outside the ecosystem managing it,” says Grady Grissom. “They’re in the ecosystem trying to survive. And if you make successively bad decisions on a piece of land, you will go away. Your genes will no longer be in the gene pool and you wont’ be part of the generational ranching population.” It’s […]
Six months ago, I went to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor was blunt. He told me I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise more. And most disturbing to me, he told me to lose weight! At the time, I wasn’t very thrilled with his advice. But I listened. Since then, […]
I’ve been asked a handful of times, “Is my multi wire set up too much stress for my fence charger?” Some manufactures rate their chargers in total linear length of wire, and some rate in single/multi wire, so it can be hard to figure out. So let’s look at an example: Let’s say you bought a […]
If you ever thought, “Seeing the results of a change takes so long, I’m not sure it’s worth it,” take hope from this illustration from Jim of what can happen in just a couple years. Here is an illustration of managed grazing beginning to heal an overgrazed landscape in the Nebraska Sand Hills. On the […]
Are you thinking that you’d like to feed less and graze more during the winter? Here’s how this farmer is taking it on, from our October 2015 issue. Is year-round grazing possible in the rugged hill country of Steuben County? John Burns thinks so and is putting a lot of planning and effort to do […]
Jim Gerrish demonstrates how he grazed to get biodiversity in his pastures, along with all the benefits of healthy soil, good animal performance, and improved wildlife habitat.
Here’s something to think about this winter as you’re planning for next year’s weaning. Who knew that early weaned steers gain better?! That’s just one of the things ARS scientists found when they looked at early weaning as an alternative when forage is limited.
You’ve dreamed of becoming a farmer, growing food not just for yourself but for your greater community. You yearn to work with the soil, and are prepared for a life of physical toil, intellectual challenges, and uncertain finances. All that’s left is to trade in your suit and tie for sturdy boots and a dilapidated […]
This advice from August 2016 never gets old! My dear Mother always said that the older you get, the faster time goes, she was right. I really don’t know what happened to the summer. But here it is, September already. We have just a couple more weeks for seeding of permanent vegetation, early planting of […]
Cows can do every bit as well on brush as goats. How do I know? I have experience using both for managing vegetation. And this week Dave Pratt tells us how to figure out how much to charge for prescribed grazing services to manage vegetation. He hints that livestock besides goats could be good tools […]
The cost for this hack is just $10 and it gives you hours of free time. Save Save Save
You know that your On Pasture editors, Kathy and Rachel, are science geeks. So this makes perfect sense to us. 🙂
Everybody sing! (If you hang around for the end, you’ll see two of Rachel’s favorite characters. They are based on soils professors at the University of Maryland, where Muppets creator Jim Henson worked at the soil testing lab.) And while you’re thinking of us throughout the day – remember that this is the beginning of […]
Do you ever feel like this? Thanks to Monti Golla at NatGLC for sharing this with us! Save
September 19 is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Rachel loves this holiday, so this one’s for her (and all her scurvy mateys, ARRR!) Are you ready? Here’s more pirate vocabulary. Save