In February of 2017 we took readers on a summer visit to South Dakota with this article and video. Since so many of you just made it through the Polar Vortex, we thought another summer trip was in order in 2019. We hope it helps you look forward to warmer times!
Charlie and his wife Tanya own and operate Totton Angus Ranch in Chamberlain, South Dakota. They’re mob grazing at their ranch to make more money. “We’re adding more organic matter in the soil and increasing the grass population,” Charlie Totten says. In this video he describes working on his 700 acres, mobbing half of it one year and the other half the next year.
The biggest impact he’s found is that he’s doubled his production. That’s based on the first year of working with the NRCS to measure how much grass he started with and then map what was where and where the cows should graze. Charlie says “It’s coming out pretty close to what we measured after we inspected, but we were surprised we got through last year (during a drought). So it looks to me any kind of plan is going to help you in drought.”
They flash graze during May, moving the cattle through pastures quickly to take advantage of rapid spring growth. Charlie says that’s a little scary because you don’t know how much rain you’ll get and overgrazing could mean that without rain, there’s not as much regrowth. They don’t use all the grass, setting themselves up for regrowth, and then use the pasture to cross-fence wean their calves in October.
As part of this 6 minute visit to summer in South Dakota, you’ll also see how Charlie and his wife manage their fencing and how their cows react to all the good grass around them. Enjoy!
Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible. Click on over to see the great work they do for all of us. Thank them for supporting On Pasture by liking their facebook page.