Is Contract Grazing in Your Future?

Businessman Nido Qubein said, “Change brings opportunity.”  With the volatility of conventional milk prices and the surging interest in local beef and organic grass-fed dairy products, change is in the air for farmers and ranchers working to keep local agriculture strong. And, even if you don’t own land or cattle, or milk the cows you can become a part of the effort. Contract/custom grazing is an avenue where you become a land, grass and livestock manager, not an owner.  In my humble opinion, you will be filling an important niche as a forage chain, animal-raising, and relationship specialist whether it’s seasonal, year-round, full or part-time. While contract grazing is an accepted ranching business model west of the Mississippi River, it's not as common in the east, where we're still learning how to integrate the millions of acres of underutilized pasture-land into our farming systems, environment and socio-economic business climate.   The Department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University says, “Relatively little academic work has been done on the issue of contract grazing”. Contract grazing is simply a fee-based seasonal arrangement in which one person provides the pasture, shelter, water and grazing management expertise for the care of another person’s animals such a

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2 thoughts on “Is Contract Grazing in Your Future?

  1. Troy’s comment; While contract grazing is an accepted ranching business model west of the Mississippi River, it’s not as common in the east, where we’re still learning how to integrate the millions of acres of underutilized pasture-land into our farming systems, environment and socio-economic business climate.

    The unused land stood out in my first trip east. In the west (I am from Colorado) there is almost no unused land that can be pastured. About the year 2000 Joel Salatin wrote of renting grass for $5 per acre that only took about two acres to run a cow. Unbelievable to us westerners. In Eastern Colorado land that required 30 acres per cow was renting for $5 per acre or more. Folks in the east were sitting on gold mines and didn’t realize what they had. Add to this the fact that you don’t have multi year droughts like the west!

    Keep on leading and teaching Troy!

  2. Thank you for this article.

    I manage upwards of about 2,400 of sheep and goats in the Bay Area of California for land stewardship efforts and fire hazard reduction with large public agencies.

    We began from seeing the success in addressing an encroachment of Coyote Brush at our home ranch using sheep and goats to reduce the vigorous growth from over rest.

    The business is successful and ever growing. We are a staked enterprise in both contract grazing and meat sales in Fall and Spring.

    My hope is that more producers see the ability to partner with public agencies, land trusts and private land owners to provide meaning services in ecological stewardship, invasive species management and restoration efforts.

    Thanks for exposing me to other contract grazing efforts with cattle in the country.

    Best,
    BCB Shepherdess

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