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Birdwell and Clark Ranch – Moving 5,000 Head of Cattle Multiple Times a Day

When Emry Birdwell and Deborah Clark bought their 14,000 acre ranch in north Texas in 2003 it was a monoculture of little blue stem with 25% bare ground, and areas that were overgrazed and undergrazed. Today, it produces two times the county average of beef per acre and in less time. For that, and the increase in plant and wildlife diversity, Emry and Deborah have been honored with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award, and the Lone Star Land Steward award from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Click to visit the Birdwell & Clark Ranch website.


In this six minute video, Emry and Deborah talk about the holistic management that has brought them this far. They have 140 permanent paddocks that they split into smaller pastures and run one herd of 5,000 stocker cattle all winter and to the middle of summer. Their water system includes 25 miles of pipe run with the assistance of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and a portable water trough made from an old propane tank. The move the trough to areas they would like to have animal impact, or place it away from areas that they don’t want to impact. It gives them tremendous flexibility to use the entire ranch. It has also allowed them to fence off riparian areas.

Deborah and Emry have brought the ranch back to life with their grazing management. Now they share their experience and knowledge with others who’d like to do the same on their own operations.

Bonus Video!

What does it look like when 5,000 cattle move from one pasture to the next? Check out this video. As Tony Dean, NRCS District Conservationist (retired) says, “One herd grazing is not new science, but one herd grazing at this scale has, as far as I know, never been done.”

More Resources

Pasture without water is not worth much to an operation. That’s why the Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers and ranchers with water systems and grazing plans for their operations. To check out what’s available, Click here to find the office nearest you.

Conservation Districts can also provide support and point you to additional resources. Click here to find one near you.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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