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Stocksharing – An Innovative Idea for Healthy Grasslands and Graziers

Will is a 4th generation Texas rancher and a conservationist for the Wildife Habitat Federation helping landowners develop and implement plans to improve wildlife habitat.

Back in November and December of 2017, On Pasture ran this four-part series by Will Kearney. It’s a look at problems we all face and some innovative ideas about how graziers might band together to be more resilient and successful in the face of challenges. It’s a thoughtful, and deep series and well worth the read.

Even if your scale is smaller than the wide-open spaces of Texas where Will lives and works, I hope it will inspire you to consider what you and your neighbors might gain if you figured out ways to join forces for the benefit of everyone.


Part 1

For me, the lesson is clear. If we want grasslands, we have to start thinking in more open, connecting ways. If we remain closed off from each other, then our land will also grow more closed.

Will takes a look at the history of his region and then identifies some problems: invasive species management and how the grasslands are being parcelled into ever smaller pieces. Then he introduces a potentially novel concept – actively working together to solve these challenges.

Like a Prairie – A Big Picture View of Grazing Management

Part 2

The challenges posed by land fragmentation, a changing climate, and drought-prone pastures will most likely force producers to re-organize. The difference will be in whether producers choose to be proactive or reactive to these forces.

Here Will expands on how working together can create resilience we might not otherwise have, and takes a look at the obstacles that prevent us from working together.

Looking Drought in the Eye – Working Together to Get Through the Next One

Part 3

I want to propose a production model that reverses these trends, while continuing to preserve the livelihood, ownership, and heritage of ranching…

Drought, invasive species, land fragmentation and the resulting poor economies of scale are all challenges for healthy grasslands and graziers. In Part 3, Will describes how an actual Stockshare might function with the right combination of landowners, with a specific emphasis on his experiences grazing cattle in the upper Gulf Coast region. He includes a look at how the economics of this model might actually square between landowners of different stripes who represent the diversity of landowners in Texas.

The Idea of a Stockshare – Managing Together for Better Pastures and Better Profits

Part 4

Perhaps the reason so many livestock producers feel “there’s no money” in livestock is because we have destroyed some of the roots that connect one rancher to another.

Could community cooperation can create a competitive advantage in a world “that is red in tooth and claw?” Will shares his thoughts.

Managing Across Boundaries For Mutual Success

The Funnies

Of course I wouldn’t forget! Here’s another reason it’s good to have a team.

DIY Leather Sofa

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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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