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The Answer to “Why Do We Ranch This Way?” Leads to Better Grazing for This Rancher

The Atlas Blizzard of October 3, 2013 was a big shock to Jody Brown of Faith, South Dakota. The freak storm dropped as much as 4 feet of snow in some places and wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour blew in drifts that made travel outdoors all but impossible. About 43,000 cattle, horses and bison died, and some of Jody Brown’s cattle were included in that count.

“When that storm hit is what really got me to thinking, why do we ranch the way we do? And it was, ‘Well this neighbor does it this way and everybody looks at another guy, and ‘Well I guess that’s the way we should be doing it,'” says Jody. “And I thought maybe I should start thinking on my own.”

So he went in search of new ideas, and he found some at the South Dakota grazing school. And even though he admits he should have taken it a little slower, that his lack of knowledge led to skinny cows and poor breed back, he worked through it until he arrived at a place that worked better for him. Now, instead of the traditional “graze it all down and then feed all winter,” he leaves half the ranch for stockpile and winter grazing.

In this 6:12 video, you’ll meet Jody and his family, and hear about how pastures have improved, that cattle have learned to eat a wide variety of forages, and that wildlife that had disappeared for years have now returned to the ranch. You’ll also see examples of work they did with the help of their local Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide water and fencing.



The Browns provide some good examples that might get you to thinking about what you might like to change at your place. But, as Shane O’Daniel said in the Noble Research Institute’s 2019 Annual report, “Every farm is like a puzzle. You’ve got to find out what works best for you…Most importantly, never stop learning.”


Here at On Pasture, we provide solid information, “How-To’s” and plenty of examples to help you think in new ways. Subscribers get 7 new articles a week, and have access to a library of over 2,500 articles, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always email me for help. I’m also busy putting together some ebooks as bonus content for subscribers. First up “The Principles of Soil Health.” Stay tuned!

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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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