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Relationships and Good Management Make the Difference

It’s basically two local land owners, neither of which wanted to expand their operation, or couldn’t expand their operation on their own. They just didn’t have the human resources or the facilities to pull it off and so in order to expand their ranch capacity, they partnered together. They pooled their resources and it’s working out fantastic.

– Justin Enfield speaking about Tyler Moore and Dave Grassel

In this 7:02 video you’ll meet Tyler Moore and Dave Grassel, and learn about how their partnership is allowing them to expand their individual ranching operations. They also talk about how landowners choose them, even when they might pay less than other potential lessees, because they like their rotational grazing practices and what it does to make healthier landscapes. You can enjoy the video and the visit to their operation, or read the transcript below.

I hope it inspires you to look around and see what kinds of relationships and partnership you might have or develop as you build your business.


Tyler Moore, Sanborn County, South Dakota: Three years ago we lost some grass. It got sold out from under us. And it was pretty close and very good grass. I was about ready to dump 75 pair. It was early April. Had an old ag teacher of mine who called one day and he said, “I have some grass available.” We could run about 200 pair and that was way more than what I had. But he had been renting to a cousin of mine and he said, “If you’d be open to it would you be willing to run with…”  – my cousin who is a very good operator, very good cattle. Does things the right way. And I said absolutely.

So it was a little bit different. It was east of Watertown and it was way further away than we run cattle – normally 10 miles or closer. So that was kind of a big change. But you know there’s not too many opportunities where you can have cattle 120 miles away and trust the guy to care for your cattle and do a good job doing it. And this was a case where I didn’t think twice about it.

So that kind of opened my eyes. We were running 200 head together. Opened my eyes to we can run bulls together and cows together. We had run kind of similar style cattle, all black Angus and trusted each others genetics and bulls. And it worked very, very good.

The only issue was maybe a little too far away from home.

So the next year rolled around and an opportunity for some grass came up a lot closer to home. Neighbor was – I knew he’d been getting out of his cows. I called him in April, again, very late. And guessing for sure that this grass was going to be gone and he said, “No, it’s still available. I had several guys interested in but haven’t been real interested in the guys that were asking me about it. When do you want to come over?

So me and Dave came over the next day. And again, it was a pretty good chunk of ground and I knew that I wouldn’t have enough cattle to fulfill this amount of grass. So that’s where Dave came in. One of my better friends and a guy that runs the same style of cattle and does things the same way we do, and that was after running that groip in Watertown it wasn’t really even worth thinking about whether that could be done or not.

Dave Grassel, Artesian, South Dakota: We approached the landowner and told him that if we were given the opportunity to rent the land that we would rotational graze on it. And they actually took us up on that. We actually underbid some fellow ranchers but we offered to rotational graze and they thought that would be a better deal for everybody in the long run.

Leigh Talley, Sanborn County, South Dakota: Taylor and Dave’s rotational grazing practice really fits my needs and so it was a real lucky thing that I knew Tyler and knew Tyler’s family. And when he approached me with this plan to implement this rotational grazing program I was real excited. It was something I’d been looking for. And so I hope we’re kind of at the beginning of this project and I hope that long term it accomplishes a couple goals. One is to make this piece of native pasture out here healthier. Two, I hope that Tyer’s able to make some money out here and put his kids through college. So we’re kind of balancing those two needs. And so far it looks good.

Tyler Moore: It’s a pretty intense deal we run. We have 12 paddocks on that piece we picked up last year. And then this year we picked up another good chunk of grass. So I guess the benefits are there’s a lot of moving, a big group of cows. So we need extra bodies. Another benefit is spraying. We do a lot of spot spraying – cover a lot of ground with two guys. Maintaining fences, spraying, moving the cattle, it’s there’s a lot of work and moving cows. It’s one of them deals when you set it in motion, that moving cows, you don’t stop because it’s the weekend and your wife wants to go on a trip. You’re moving them cows before you’re doing stuff like that. (Editor’s Note: Troy Bishopp might have a suggestion or two for being able to do things with the family and still doing a good job of managed grazing.)

Dave Grassel: It is unique and we do have differing ideas every once in awhile. We butt heads every once in awhile, because I’d say we’re a little more like brothers than we are like friends most of the time. When he thinks sometimes that we should be moving, I think maybe we ought to leave them another half a day. It always tends to work out pretty well I guess. This is our second year doing it together so we’re learning how to do it just a little bit better and everything’s going pretty smooth.

Last year we ran 100 head together and this year we came upon some more grass another opportunity. We were also approached by the landowner because of our rotational grazing practices. And we’re running 180 pair together right now. So we just about doubled what we’re doing together. It’s pretty time intensive. I would say at certain times cause a lot of times we’re doing the first pass through the grass we’re doing every two days. So when you’re trying to cut hay and spray crops and stuff like that and you have to move cows every two days, it can be a handful. But I think it’s going to be very beneficial in the long run.

Brian Pauly, NRCS District Conservationist: The partnership that Dave and Tyler have been able to create on their operation here these last couple years, it reminds me a lot of the West River Grazing Coalitions and the different grazing partnerships that they have West River that we see a lot. It’s basically two local land owners, neither one of which wanted to expand their operation, or couldn’t expand their operation on their own. They just didn’t have the human resources or the facilities to pull it off and so in order to expand their ranch capacity, they partnered together. They pooled their resources and it’s working out fantastic. They’re running larger herds of cows, but they can work collectively. They have twice the manpower, twice the resources to actually move those cattle and pull off that type of a system.

Justin Enfield, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist: You know getting a partnership, it’s not just one mind. You are going to be better when you have more than one voice. You’re going to have more ideas and more ways to do things and the challenge of course is sorting those out to what’s going to be the best thing for that moment and doing that. But it’s a lot better to have more than one thought process when it comes to doing these things.

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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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