My First Wonderful Lease – Part 1

In his book "No Risk Ranching" Greg Judy describes how he went from liquidating his cow herd and almost losing the family farm, to paying off the farm and home loan in three years by custom grazing on leased land. If you know Greg's name, it's because he has become an evangelist for growing a successful business through leasing and good management of the soil and forage. He shares his experience and knowledge at conferences around the country, in his books, and at an annual school. This series is drawn from a chapter in the book "No Risk Ranching." It describes how he got started with his first lease. It's a great example of how giving landowners what they want through good animal management can result in true success. Enjoy! I had driven by this vacant pasture land about two miles from my farm for many years. The farm was 150 acres; 60 to 70% of it was open land. The rest was overgrown with brush and it had very steep ridges, limited water and had been hayed to death. The only fence on the farm was one strip of road frontage and a section between a neighbor. It also had some good potential: a pretty good base of grass under the small brush, no big brush in the pastures, a small creek running through the property, one decent pond, a one acre lake, a nine acre bottom of gama grass, and it was two miles from my house. So I got the landowner's number from a neighbor and gave him a call. The landowner purchased the farm to hunt, fish and build a summer retirement home. Mana

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2 thoughts on “My First Wonderful Lease – Part 1

  1. I want to buy stockers that are weaned from their mothers and put them on stockpiled grass in the winter. I am told that I need to feed hay in the winter in order for them to keep their ruminant warm in order to survive the cold. It sounds like you are feeding only stockpiled grass in the winter for your weaned calves. Is this true? Would it be any better to buy yearlings to go thru the winter on only stockpiled hay?
    Thank you for your response.

    1. Tom,

      We winter the calves with the cows. This is our 11th year of letting the cows wean the calves. If a cow gets thin taking her previous spring born calf through the winter, that tells us that she is a heavy milker. She is culled. We want low maintenance animals in our herd. Heavy milking beef cows cost you money because unless you supplement them with energy in the cold weather, they get thin producing to much milk on stockpiled grass.

      Some winter stockpile is better than others. Our stockpile is primarily Kentucky 31 Fescue which stays partially green all winter long. Our cows and calves thrive on this winter stockpile. If we are forced to feed our mob of cattle hay for any length of time, their body condition drops. Simply put, most Missouri grass hay is low in quality when compared to freshly grown fall stockpiled grass.

      Our coming yearling calves actually do the best of any other age group in the mob. They are getting quality stockpile strips twice per day and a bit of mothers milk to help them along. This bit of milk is not much, but it sure helps the yearlings with their daily energy requirements.

      I know from my early custom grazing days with stockers, the owners required me to feed 2 pounds of corn gluten every other day to the 400 pound steers thru the winter. The steers were being moved daily onto stockpiled grass. Only time they got hay was if we had deep snow or ice. The steer owner was concerned about the steers losing weight. We grew a heck of a frame on those steers, when they hit spring grass, they absolutely turned on the weight gain.

      Everything that we are talking about here is covered in detail at our upcoming Mob grazing school in May.


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