How to Write a Custom Grazing Contract

Strong, written contracts can prevent some of the Boneheaded Business Blunders I made in my early years of ranching. My previous two articles have covered every brutally specific detail that I should have included in my former land lease contracts. This month I’m running down everything that needs to be in a custom grazing contract. In the past I have made contracts too short and simple, in an effort to avoid overwhelming potential partners. I wanted them to think that working with me would be stress-free and easy. But in the years that followed, those contracts proved ineffective at solving disputes and protecting us from one another. Now I don’t hesitate to hand people 5-page contracts. The kind of people I want to work with will welcome the security of a strong contract and respect me for making sure my bases are covered. These are just my thoughts and I am not a lawyer. Before signing a lease contract, you should have your lawyer look it over and ask them if you have forgotten anything important! The legal fees are worth avoiding potentially expensive future issues. If you have not worked with an agricultural lawyer up to this point, definitely make contact with one. Using other people’s land and/or caring for other people’s livestock is legally risky! Even if you think you’re getting along really well with your potential partner right now, and you trust them to be fair to you, a lot can change over the length of a multi-year contract. Introduction [c

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3 thoughts on “How to Write a Custom Grazing Contract

  1. Great info. I must admit I had to read it several times as the whole grazier and owner relationship is so much different for my goat herd. I rent them to land owners, take care of the goats needs completely and the owner of the land pays me for grazing and keeping the foliage down.

    I need to figure out how to adopt some of what you are saying as right now for my new grazing business it has been all hand shakes!

  2. In your example contract, you mentioned no vaccines will be given and bulls will be not be removed from the herd. If you don’t mind me asking, why are you against vaccinating and using a defined breeding season?

    1. Thanks for your question Jake. When it comes to a closed cow-calf herd that keeps home-raised replacements, I don’t want to vaccinate because I feel it covers up the cattle’s genetic immune competency and level of adaptation to their surroundings. Nobody is vaccinating herds of wild bison and deer. The sickly ones in nature die out. I treat and cull things that get sick. But when cattle are being subjected to unnatural management events, for example on an operation that buys and flips groups of outside cattle that get trucked around and sent through sale barns, I do think they should be vaccinated. If you’re not making genetics decisions, your goal should be to minimize losses and maximize the sale value of whatever you’re raising.
      As far as breeding, nobody is taking males in and out of wild herds of bison and deer. I don’t have a problem with doing that, but it’s more work to sort, feed and house bulls. In places with severe winter weather, accidental off-season calves might be more of a concern. I like to use rental bulls because it’s the best of both worlds: tight calving season and no separate bull care.
      I learned a lot from the way Greg Judy manages his herd, and he does not vaccinate or remove bulls.

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