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In Practice a publication of Holistic Management International



W W W. H O L I S T I C M A N A G E M E N T. O R G


How Holistic Management Helped Me Pay Myself First

Agricultural Profit


Editor’s Note: This article was first printed in Graze Magazine and is reprinted here by permission. For more information on Graze go to: irst, let me say thank you to the readers of Graze. I appreciate all of your comments and questions. One question that keeps coming up is this: “It works in North Dakota, but can it work on my farm?” The answer, I truly believe, is definitely! When I travel around the country talking about soil health, I often make the statement that I will bet my operation against anyone else’s that I can get these principles to work on their operation. The reason I am so sure lies not in what cover crops I use, what drill I The Brown family: (Top) Kelly and Paul; (Bottom) use, what rotation I use, what class of Shelly and Gabe. livestock I use or any of those other variables. As I’ve said many times, the exact management of your farm will need to be different from what’s done on mine because your climate, soils, livestock and other factors are going to be different. But the principles will indeed work on your farm, because the real answer lies in the thought process for solving problems. How we approach problem solving makes all the difference. This is what I want to discuss here. The thought process I use to solve problems is that of Holistic Management. Developed by Allan Savory, Holistic Management is a decision-making framework that simultaneously considers the financial, environmental and social impacts of a decision prior to its implementation. In other words, before making a decision on a particular issue, we ask ourselves several questions. The first question we always ask is, “Are we solving a problem, or only treating a symptom?” Many times this is the only question we need to ask. If we are only treating symptoms, then we need to step back and find out what the problem really is. I put herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers and most other inputs in the category of treating symptoms. Second, “Is it a wise decision financially?” Will it increase net revenue, and can we afford it without borrowing money? A new pickup may look nice, but will it add to net income? Third, “Is it good for the resource?” Will the decision help to regenerate our resources so they can become more sustainable? Most inputs do not help regenerate our resources. In fact, most will negatively affect them. Fourth, “Will the decision positively affect our quality of life?” How about the quality of other’s lives? Each one of us has a different idea of what we want as far as quality of life is concerned. Each one of us needs to answer this question for ourselves.

In this issue we look at the different ways people are able to obtain agricultural profit and the choices they make about investing it. To learn more about the Charter Trials that demonstrated the profitability of planned grazing and the work done by Johann Zietsman, turn to page 3.




Profit Secret Largely Hidden for 30 years— The Charter Trials

ALAN NEWPORT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Preserving the Farm “Generation after Generation”— A Bequest Story

TOM AND IRENE FRANTZEN . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Benefiting from the Good Times— A Holistic Approach to Investing

Land & Livestock

DON CAMPBELL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Lewis Brothers Ridge Farms— A Family Friendly Farm

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Grassroots of Grazing— Grazing Adventures South of the Border

JIM GERRISH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Chad Lemke – Dealing With Drought

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Breitkreutz Farm— Learning from the Cattle

News & Network

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Grapevine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Development Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Certified Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Marketplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

How Holistic Management Helped Me Pay Myself First

In Practice a publication of Holistic Management International

Holistic Management International exists to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. STAFF Kelly Curtis. . . . . . . . Chief Financial Officer

Ann Adams. . . . . . . . Managing Editor, IN PRACTICE and Director, Community Services, Interim CEO Sandy Langelier. . . . Director, Communications and Outreach

Peggy Cole . . . . . . . . Program Manager, Texas Mary Girsch-Bock . . Grants Manager

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS Kelly Sidoryk, Chair Sallie Calhoun, Past Board Chair

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Ron Chapman Laura Gill Clint Josey Danny Nuckols Jim Shelton

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Functioning of Wholes

One of the principles of Holistic Management is that nature functions in wholes. You can’t control or change one thing without affecting something else in another area. Fly control is an example. We used to use insecticides, both pour-ons and insecticide tags. These reduced fly populations, but were also devastating to dung beetle populations and other soil biology. Due to this lack of life, manure was slow to break down and the nutrient cycling in our pastures was damaged. This affected production, costing us valuable forage. Another example: tillage to control weeds. Yes, tillage will kill weeds, but at what cost to soil health? Tillage destroys arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi that secrete glomalin, the key building block of soil particles. Without soil particles, water cannot infiltrate the soil profile. In other words, we are creating our own drought. Yet another example is allowing cattle to graze a pasture for too long a period of time just to keep from feeding hay. Overgrazing weakens the root system, negatively affects diversity, allows invasive species to get started and negatively affects water infiltration. Holistic Management decision-making principles prevent us from making these kinds of mistakes. I want to spend some time discussing our financial decision-making process. As I travel, I hear a million-and-one explanations as to why producers are having a tough go of it. It is the markets, the weather, consumers, imports, the government (that one does have some truth to it) — the list goes on and on. More often than not, it is our own fault. It is our fault because we have not made wise decisions. Most producers approach their finances by putting together a cash flow statement projecting income and expenses for the coming year. Remaining money, if any, goes for wages and family living expenses. This puts a lot of stress on the family. Earlier in my life I was in the agricultural lending field, and I can tell you this is also how financial institutions approach this. Now let me explain how my family approaches finances using Holistic Management decision making. First, we very conservatively project our income for the upcoming year. For an example, I will use a figure of $750,000 projected gross income.

September / October 2014

continued from page one

Next we deduct our wages and family living expenses. Yes, we pay ourselves first. This amount can be whatever you feel comfortable with, but I suggest making it worthy of your time. When I started using these principles, I used 20% of gross income. Now I use a percentage much higher than that. For our example, I will use $200,000. Next I deduct income taxes and land payments, including interest and real estate taxes. Another $200,000 in this example. This leaves us with $350,000 available for variable costs. From this we deduct expenses such as equipment or livestock payments and interest on those, insurance and land rents — a total in this example is $250,000. The amount we have remaining is $100,000. This is all we can spend on everything else: seed, fuel, fertilizer, herbicide, repairs, custom hire, vet, feed — everything. What if we don’t have enough money to cover these expenses? We simply do not buy these items! What? How can we operate without these inputs? The answer is just fine. It is amazing how few expenses we really need. Never do we dip into the amount we paid ourselves for wages and family living expenses. Those are off-limits. When you pay an employee, do you ever ask him/her to pay the wages back so you can cover expenses? Of course not, and you can’t do it to yourself either. I hope you realize what happens in this type of a decision-making process. It requires us to analyze every purchase. I speak from experience when I tell you that when we do that, we become much better at handling our finances. It also drives us to think of our farm as an ecosystem, and to focus on how we can help to regenerate that ecosystem so it is selfsupporting and sustainable.

Why You Can Do This

Let’s get back to my response of being confident that these principles will work on every farm. I will use cover crops for an example. Obviously I am not going to use cover crops if the farm is in properly grazed, diverse perennial pasture. A farm using Holistic Management can go through the decisionmaking format I just outlined and quickly realize that: 1. Such pastures are solving the problem of poor soil health with diversity, cover and animal impact. CONTINUED ON PAGE 5

Profit Secret Largely Hidden for 30 years—

The Charter Trials BY ALAN NEWPORT

ome of the most important research ever done on ranch profitability has been largely ignored for 30 years. This arguably groundbreaking study was conducted Johann on the Charter Estate in Zietsman Zimbabwe and today cannot even be accessed on the Internet, other than through a few commentaries by others. The seven-year study was done in the 1970s and published in a Zimbabwe journal of agricultural research in 1984. The research showed several findings of critical importance at the time, but the most profound was that even under what good managers today would consider low to mediocre grazing management, gross profits rose by nearly one-third. The Charter Estate study compared what was then conventional management, with four paddocks and one herd at a conventionally accepted stocking rate, against 16 paddocks and one herd of twice the stocking rate under the direction of Allan Savory, designer of Holistic Management. Johann Zietsman, a Zimbabwean rancher now working as a ranching consultant all over the world, shared these results with Beef Producer. Records and financial data were kept by university staff. Range management experts predicted the condition of the veldt, or rangeland, would decline under the heavier stocking rate and more rapid rotations. That did not happen. Calving rate fell from 80% to 67%. Weaning weight fell by 10%. Most important, the gross margin increased by 28%, or nearly one-third. “Because of the rancher mentality of maximum production per animal, the consensus was that the ‘Savory System’ was a failure,” says Zietsman. He adds that even Savory was influenced by this thinking and “sought redress in the intangible ... Holistic decision-making.” Zietsman says the answers actually lie in the tangible. Poor body condition resulted from the stresses of nonselective grazing, which can be countered by more paddocks per herd, changing to a thriftier animal genotype, and calving in sync with naturally available nutrition. Zietsman and other ranchers have solved these issues with such management and reaped the profit benefits, yet the research community has done little to follow up on these successes or to tell grazing managers how


much they could gain. In 1995, Zietsman was able to double his stocking rate; he tripled it in 1997. He expected to quadruple the stocking rate in 2002, but his


land was “expropriated” by the Zimbabwean government. Nonetheless, in accomplishing such dramatic improvements on the land, he also changed animal type dramatically, as described in the October issue of Beef Producer. He used temporary fencing and multiple moves per day to create 1,000 to CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

Importance of ranch stocking rate to profitability

Relative stocking rate Paddocks/herd




2X 16






Cow size (lbs.)



Weaning weight (lbs.)



Total weaner lbs.





Total direct cost $





BCS (1-5) 2.2

No. of weaned calves Total weaner $

Total gross margin $ Gross margin/cow $

Gross margin/acre $ Capital:

2.6 80


46,000 460





100,000 60,500 300





148,995 108,995 326


660 726


222,750 162,750 325


Land $





Total $





Cattle $

Return — margin/capital:

110,000 2.80%

220,000 3.60%

Ranch size = 2,471 acres Ranch value = $1,500,000 Conventional stocking rate is one stock unit per 10 acres.

193,700 6.30%

275,000 9.00%

Here’s Why There’s So Much Profit in Good Grazing Management

This chart compares the original numbers from the Charter Estate trials in Zimbabwe with Johann Zietsman’s numbers for stocking rate and paddocks. It also supposes final frame score and cattle weight as he was breeding them. You’ll notice the “weaners,” as Zietsman calls them, would be very long yearlings or, better yet, grass-finished cattle in this country. They are quite heavy likely representing the southern African practice of selling big cattle off the ranch straight to slaughter. Further, the author has converted Zietsman’s figures from hectares to acres and from kilograms to pounds for easier mental processing by readers. Since the body condition score number, or BCS, is quoted in the African standard reference of 1 to 5, you can roughly double each ranking to convert it to the U.S. system of scoring from 1 to 9. Zietsman says he used the actual calving rate figures from the Charter Estate trial and suppositions based upon his own experience for the two stocking rates in the “sustainable” management column. Remember, his model is a combination of high-density grazing and smaller, environmentally suited cattle. The profitability figures are simple gross margin, or a sort of gross profit figure, without all expenses counted. Gross margin is a good tool for comparing enterprises, assuming inputs remain similar. The most exciting part is the change in gross margin, implying a similar change in net profit, as well as the total return on investment for the intensive grazing management. —Alan Newport Number 157


Preserving the Farm “Generation after Generation”—


Tom and Irene Frantzen have a showcase farm in Chickasaw County, Iowa with significant conservation features blended into a working landscape. As Tom and Irene hit their late 50s, they began thinking seriously about their farm’s legacy and have now come to a decision: Upon their deaths, their farm will be transferred to Practical Farmers of Iowa, the 320 acres to be kept together generation after generation. Here is their story of that momentous decision. olistic Management, which we’ve practiced for 20 years, has been the driver as we’ve worked out the details of our generational transfer. The basic principle in Holistic Management is that we have no idea where we’re going if we don’t have goals. The goal we developed to guide us during this generational transfer discussion includes securing “long-term protection for a true Iowa family farm that has significant conservation features blended into a working landscape.” This was written after much thought and a lengthy discussion with our family. With that stated goal, we could now measure proposed actions against it.


Developing a Plan

We started meeting with a consultant, who also came here and toured the farm. We told him that we each own 50 percent of a business called Frantzen Farm Feeds LLC that is separate from the farm. He said that was the place to start, and he was right. Starting with the business gave us a good idea about how assets can be handled without the emotional attachments that farmland brings.

“We needed a strategy that allows the farm to survive a variety of tragedies and unexpected results, or we really don’t have a plan for the future.” Without a plan, if our son wanted to take over this business, he’d have to go in debt in order to buy out his sisters. We decided to appraise the value of the business and then we, through the business, purchased a whole life insurance policy on Irene for that dollar figure. The beneficiaries are our two daughters. So here’s how the Frantzen Farm Feed transition follows: If Tom passes away tonight, 4 IN PRACTICE

own tangible asset inventory as we reduce our farm activities. The value of these farm goods are an important part of our retirement income. Now people are going to say, “Well why didn’t you just will the farmland to your son?” When the Pope visited Iowa in 1979, he said that the land is ours to be preserved for generation upon generation. His visit started our transition to a more sustainable agriculture and life that we’ve had. He didn’t just say preserve the land for a generation. He said “generation upon generation.” The plans that

our son inherits half of the business and he becomes a manager. Irene still has half. If Irene passes away tonight, our son inherits her half of the business. Each of our daughters then gets half of Irene’s whole life insurance policy. In effect the asset value of the business has been James, Irene, and Tom Frantzen shared by the children and the business continues on. the consultant came up with do not protect the There’s a very important principle involved: farm long-term. We think that the farm is best If our family members have physical activity in preserved by a group than any individual. the operations, then they will share the risk or There are real problems today with selling rewards in it. We love our two daughters, but our farm to our son as my father sold his farm to they’re not involved in this business. Our son us. Land values are ridiculously high. Then it ends up with a business which may be worth a gets very complicated with assessments and lot, or a little – those are the risks and rewards. how it gets legally transferred. James would With the business transfer in place, the end up with a real serious burden of debt, consultant then made some recommendations for the farm, which we thought about for a year. The farm is not only complicated, it is HMI Legacy Fund emotional, and it is far more of a fiscal entity. The consultant recommended that we have If you want to leave a lasting legacy, some of the farm surveyed off and willed to our please consider HMI’s Legacy Fund. son. But in the end we rejected that Fund monies directly support both recommendation, because it didn’t fit our goals. program and community outreach, while helping to fuel the growth of our organization for generations to Transfer to PFI come. You can choose to leave a Instead we have changed our wills to portion of your estate to HMI or bequeath our 320 acres of farmland to Practical designate us as a beneficiary on a life Farmers of Iowa (PFI). There is a governing insurance policy or retirement account. document with the bequest of this land that PFI Other options, including Charitable is required to follow. This list includes actions Remainder Trusts are also available. that are required, ones that are suggested, and For more information about the Legacy those that are forbidden. Fund, please contact Ann Adams at The farm has an inventory of grain, livestock 505/842-5252 ext. 105. and machinery. James currently works nearly full-time for us. In time, he will begin to build his

September / October 2014

regardless of the price. And not only that, we also looked at what would happen because our two daughters have chosen other careers and currently do not plan on coming back to the farm. What if something would happen to James? Then it would end as

“To divide up the farm and sell its assets off to the highest bidder is in compete conflict with our goals.” far as it being the Frantzen Farm. He could die of a car accident, he could become disabled or have some kind of health issue that would prevent him from being able to farm. We aren’t looking at just James’s generation. We want the farm to be continually preserved and kept in the hands of an organization that’s going to care for the land like we do and will maintain the name Frantzen Farm. We needed a strategy that allows the farm to survive a variety of tragedies and unexpected results or we really don’t have a plan for the future. It’s selfish not to have a generational transfer plan. Without a plan, when Tom dies, he dumps all the responsibility and management, from the cow herd to the income tax, in Irene’s lap. When we are no longer here, then the farmland is the PFI Board of Directors’ property. We prefer a Frantzen descendent to be the operator of this farm. If our son is here and shows that he’s a viable operator, he rents this farm and the rent is based off a percentage of the county’s average rent. Future tenants, family or non-family should have a basis for a profitable operation. They will not be burdened with interest and principle payments on the farm.

The Frantzen family surveying their farm and herd. We are all tenants on our farms in our lifetimes anyway.

Preserving a legacy

This farm has a story that started 100 years ago. Our farm is profitable and we provide sustainable employment. It is a good place to work and an important part of a rural community. It involves many other businesses in very positive ways. Down the road, maybe it will even support more families. There are no rules saying what the farm has to look like in the future. One hundred years ago, it was carved out of a chunk of tallgrass prairie, and it has been changed enormously in many different ways since. A former Supreme Court justice said that you can have great concentration of wealth or you can have democratic process. You cannot have both. We find the concentration of land ownership and the escalation of its worth very destructive to rural communities. We find those factors a huge threat to democratic process. We

How Holistic Management Helped Me Pay Myself First continued from page two

2. Leaving the land in perennial cover will be good financially, as it will lower costs and increase net income. 3. Diverse, well-managed perennial pastures are good for the resource. 4. Unless you love iron and burning fuel, this system will have a positive impact on your quality of life. But what if your land has poor soil health, or low species diversity, or is not economically viable, or is not giving you the quality of life you

want — or any combination of the above? Can the Holistic Management decision-making framework change that? Yes. If we diversify the crop rotation and add cover crops, we address the problem of poor soil health with diversity, cover and animal impact. With improved soil health we add dollars to our bottom line, thus improving a struggling financial situation. We also improve the water, mineral and energy cycles. And since we solved our problem of poor soil health, added dollars to

personally can’t change those trends that are going on, but we don’t have to be a part of them either. To divide up this farm and sell its assets off to the highest bidder is in complete conflict with our goals. Our children understand this. They realize that because of our generational transfer plan, they won’t benefit from this current run-up in land values. They understand the love and care and the legacy of the land we are trying to preserve. Practical Farmers of Iowa is about more than just growing crops or putting food on the table. It’s a part of our other family. The organization brought so much to us that we feel like we owe something back to it. We really think that we’re setting an example that maybe others can follow. If we don’t do it, who will? This article first appeared in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Winter 2013 newsletter. To learn more about PFI go to: our pocket and improved the resource, I would say our quality of life has improved! Remember that zero-till is just a tool, crop diversity is just a tool, cover crops are just a tool, livestock are just a tool, mob-grazing is just a tool. What is really important is how and when they are used, and that will vary from farm to farm. The answer to the how and when lies in our decision-making process. The Holistic Management decision-making process is the key to my operation. I encourage everyone to use it. To learn more about the Brown ranch visit their website at: Number 157


Benefiting from the Good Times—

A Holistic Approach to Investing BY DON CAMPBELL

attle prices continue to strengthen. Price insurance helps reduce the risk of owning cattle. We are definitely enjoying good times. Cattle prices are strong. How long this will last or how high prices may go are an unknown. I think we are seeing a natural response to many years of low prices. The main driver in the strong prices is the reduced cow herd in North America. Due to current circumstances we are all likely to experience an increase in profit. The question arises: what will we do with our increased profit? Will you choose to spend or invest the increased profit? I think this is a serious question that each of us should reflect on.


I am reminded of a Will Rogers’ statement “Thinking is hard work. That’s why so few people do it.” There are likely a 100 ways to spend the money. Most of them are good and would have a short term positive impact on our business. Unfortunately if we spend the profit there will be no fundamental change or long term improvement in our business. There are likely only 2 or 3 wise ways to invest our increased profit. These choices have the potential to produce fundamental change in our businesses which can lead to long term profit and sustainability. Let me share a personal example of what an investment might look like. We had a good year in 1987 resulting in a $200,000 profit. That year we invested in a livestock scale ($50,000) a steel corral system ($50,000) and a new house ($85,000). We use the scale for sale purposes, to monitor our weight gains and to purchase our feed. The scale has been an excellent investment. It has saved us thousands of dollars. I would estimate our savings at over $400,000. The scale still works fine and will continue to save us money for many more years. Clearly this was a good investment. It is harder to quantify the return on the corral system. I know the corrals have saved a lot of money in time and repairs, and we have a very efficient system. Each time we work 6 IN PRACTICE

cattle it is enjoyable, effective and efficient. Our corral system will last many more years and continue to produce a good return on our initial investment. Our Don Campbell corrals have been a good investment. The house we built in 1987 is in good shape and will be used for many more years. Again this was a good investment. I would like to think that 27 years ago I was looking ahead and trying to make investments that would have a positive long term impact on our business. That isn’t really true. I made investments in 1987 that I felt were necessary and that would benefit us. Over time they turned out to be good long term investments. It wasn’t really planned. This isn’t bad. In fact, I think it is a good sign. Holistic Management is about making better decisions. None of us know what the future will look like. Since we can’t see the future it is impossible to make a detailed plan. In the present we know the circumstances and can make better decisions. Confidence and security comes from making better decisions today. These decisions will place us in a good position in the future. When the future becomes the present, we will make another better decision. I believe this is a formula for success.

There is no doubt that what makes you successful is you. Times and circumstances change. What doesn’t change is that you are always being challenged to create the future you desire. Each family and business is unique. The best way to invest your profit will vary from farm to farm. To arrive at your own best answer will require time and discipline. Don’t let that discourage you. It will be time well spent. I am reminded of a Will Rogers’ statement “Thinking is hard work. That’s why so few people do it.”

September / October 2014

Investing in People

What is the number one resource on your farm? I am confident that we all realize it is our people. Let me share a quote from Stephen Covey: “Economic security does not lie in your job or your cattle or your land or your equipment. It lies in your power to think, to learn, to create and to adapt. That’s true financial independence. It’s not having wealth. It’s having the power to create wealth. It’s intrinsic.” There is no doubt that what makes you successful is you. Times and circumstances change. What doesn’t change is that you are always being challenged to create the future you desire. As long as you make wise decisions you will always be successful. Knowing that our success depends on us the question arises: “What can I do at this point in my life to increase my skills, knowledge and ability so that I can create a better future for myself and for those that I love?” It is obvious that there is no simple answer to this question. Each person has their own unique best answer. I believe you can find your answer. To get you started I will share a list of ideas.


1. Revisit your goal. If your goal clearly expresses what you really desire, move on. If your goal is not clear, rewrite it. It will likely be beneficial to get help. Remember, you are investing in yourself. The best possible investment ever. 2. Begin or continue to use your goal to make decisions. The holistic goal is designed to give us direction over a long period of time. It helps us decide which actions will move us closer to our goal (these we want to choose) and which actions may move us away from our goal (these we say no to). If you don’t use your goal to make decisions, it is of no value to you. 3. Improve your communication skills. Communication is a huge challenge. I struggle with it continually. Learning to listen with a sense of understanding is essential. Being able to express yourself clearly is extremely valuable. 4. Increase your self-discipline. Discipline is the one quality which sets one person apart from another. The key which lifts one to every aspiration while others are caught up in mediocrity is not talent, formal, nor intellectual brightness. It is self-discipline. With selfdiscipline all things are possible. Without it even the simplest goal can seem like the CONTINUED ON PAGE 17



Lewis Brothers Ridge Farms—


ndrew Lewis and his family live on a farm in the southern tier of New York that was originally purchased by his greatgrandparents. “My great-grandparents had 17 children, and two of the 10 brothers were the primary dairy farmers on the farm when I was a child. My main recollection of the farm at that point in time was in the summer during haying season. My uncles Lee and Sam would do the mowing, raking and hauling during the day. Then in the afternoon, the other brothers would show up after working their fulltime off-farm jobs to help put up the hay. The farm name, Brothers Ridge Farms, reflected this family effort,” says Lewis.


Working With the Land

The farm is in hill country in the southern tier of counties north of Pennsylvania. “We are only about 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Our farm is between Binghamton and Ithaca,” he says. The soil is relatively poor in this hill ground—mainly heavy clay and very rocky. “When I first got back to the farm, the first question was what can this land provide, in an attempt to work with the land as opposed to forcing the land to do something that doesn’t make sense. For instance, growing corn on this ground is not impossible (my family grew corn in earlier years) but it’s not logical. What this farm does best is produce grass. So this was the initial decision we made, to pasture the land,” says Lewis. Then came decisions regarding what type of livestock to raise and what the market would bear. “The big advantage in this area of the country is proximity to good markets. We are 3 hours away from New York City and other markets along the eastern seaboard that are fairly lucrative. We started out with commercial meat goats and that worked very well except that hoof care was a tremendous job with the Boer goats. Ultimately we sold that flock and went into grassfed beef. That has become the cornerstone of what we do,” he says.

Using the Right Animals

“We are a 100% grassfed farm. This year we should do more than 125 head of finished beef. We buy calves and keep them roughly a year until they go for processing. I don’t calve out any cows at this point; I have partners who produce the calves and we buy them at weaning. We either purchase calves or keep the cows on a retained ownership basis (calved out by the other farmers). In essence I am a custom finisher, or a stocker-

Drew and Katie Lewis are excited about the opportunities on the farm for their children, Erin and Sarah, who are already taking an interest in the operation.

finisher,” explains Lewis. “This works fairly well for us and we’ve also added a flock of 350 hair sheep. This has had its challenges but has worked out fairly well; the markets are very favorable for grassfed lamb in New York City. We’ve developed some interesting markets for both the beef and the lamb. At this point our major focus is responsible expansion, with partner farms and additional farms that we’re leasing to graze livestock on,” he says. The sheep and cattle are complementary in a grazing situation. “The ewes, once they are dried off, become my landscapers. We put them into our brushy areas and riparian buffer areas to keep them cleaned out and not so overgrown. It’s been very beneficial to have the sheep on the property,” he says.

Expansion Opportunities

“Being in an expansion phase right now, everything is on the table regarding significant decisions about the farm such as whether to expand the sheep flock, how much to expand the beef cattle, etc. All of these are open questions we are asking ourselves on a daily basis, trying to determine a path forward.” There are multiple opportunities regarding what might be best for the farm and what scale to make the farm. “We know we will be grazing these farms for a long time. What species are out there doing the grazing for us will remain flexible,” he says. “There are a significant number of dairy farms in this part of the country that have gone out of business. This provides opportunities to CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

Number 157

Land & Livestock


A Family Friendly Farm continued from page seven

either partner with some of these farms or perhaps lease the entire farm and begin grazing on these former dairy farms. Unlike most parts of the country, we do not have significant competition for ground like is seen in other areas. Our land won’t support very much row crop agriculture. Thus we have a significant opportunity to lease these farms for reasonable rent payments,” he explains. This opens a door to find more pasture. “A dairy that was milking cows until recently tends to have more fertile soils, on average, that an old abandoned hill farm. I started out with 4 hill farms and we are still paying the price in terms of low gains on the cattle. We just don’t have the fertility back into the soil yet. Our high stock density grazing and the sheep do help to bring that back, but it’s a slow process,” he said.

Multi-Species Grazing

“Our grazing program has evolved over the years—from moving the animals every 3 days to every day and we’re working toward mob grazing. This year we plan to do 3 moves per day and try to get our numbers to about 100,000 pounds per acre, increasing that number even more as our fertility increases and will allow it. As the grass swards increase in density we should be able to increase that number. I firmly believe in those benefits, as we move forward,” says Lewis.

times a day I wouldn’t do it!” Whether the sheep graze with the cattle or separately depends on the time of year. “Generally we run them together in one big mob that we call a flerd. Forage utilization is better that way, and the operation is simpler. The one time of year we may separate them is during lambing. During that time we may put the sheep a day behind the cows, just because the very young lambs could get stepped on or trampled. During lambing, which for us begins May 18, the cattle get the first day’s utilization and the sheep get it the next day. This doesn’t hurt the sheep because they eat different things; there are many plants they don’t compete for and there are some plants left that the cattle haven’t touched that the sheep love,” he explains. “This is safer for the lambs. Once they get up to 40 or 50 pounds they are agile enough to avoid being stepped on. We’ve run them together as a flerd in the past and the issues we anticipated didn’t materialize. We didn’t see any aggressive behavior of cows toward the sheep; the cows and sheep tend to do their own thing and there is no friction between the two groups,” says Lewis.

Low-Stress Livestock Handling

“We use a border collie to help move the sheep, but we also have every animal on the farm bucket trained. If I whistle, the cows all come and the sheep all come and the dog is simply coming behind the group to encourage any slackers. I think it’s a necessity to have the cows trained to follow, as opposed to pushing them.” It’s safer, and you can take them anywhere you want them to go, with no resistance. “The border collie is essential for large flocks of sheep, however. I had to learn this the hard way. Now Vic, our 9year-old border collie, has complete control over the flock and he’s a joy to watch as he works. He can easily do what it used to take 4 to 5 people to accomplish,” says Lewis. “We utilize low-stress livestock handling for both the sheep and the cattle and this makes life much easier. One person can move the herd. Even in our chutes, its low stress for the animals. We are very quiet. They never get yelled at and they never get hit.” The animals are never reluctant to go into the corral or the chute. When they are put through the chute to go over the scale, for instance, it’s a non-issue. “It’s amazing how readily they will adapt to going through willingly, if they don’t have negative consequences, and no bad memories.” The animals can teach us a lot about proper handling.

Vic, a 9-year-old border collie, is still needed for herding the sheep flock, but all the animals are bucket-trained for low-stress livestock handling.

“It’s been a gradual evolution. We tried to get away with doing it every 3 days but realized it just doesn’t work as well as when you can tighten it up. One interesting thing we have been able to is hold our entire flock of sheep and lambs behind a single poly wire. We’ve been able to train them to where they simply don’t question it. There are certain times of year that they will question it, however, if they see greener grass on the other side and are getting hungry. In that situation they will push it, but for the most part we can hold however many cows we are running, and the entire flock of sheep and lambs with a single wire. This simplifies moving fences. I don’t have patience for moving net fence. If I had to move net fence 2 or 3 8

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September / October 2014

Building Forage Potential

We have growing pains, just like any business, but we are very optimistic about the future and our goals. We feel grassfed programs are here to stay. The growth rate of grassfed beef marketed in New York City is just huge. There is tremendous growth potential in this market,” says Lewis. “We have challenges getting proper finish on the animals year round with our cool season grasses. Those grasses tend to leave us energy deficient and with excess protein in the grazing season, and winter haylage also tends to be energy deficient for us,” he says. “We are looking at a number of strategies to offset this and one is trying to get better grass with higher energy levels—higher sugar. We’ve tested crops like male-sterile corn silage. This is basically corn silage

without any grain in it. The tassel for the male part of the plant is sterile. exponential growth. That’s a great problem to have, but we need to be Everything pollinates like it ordinarily would, but the pollen is sterile and aware of this and plan accordingly,” he says. the plant doesn’t produce any grain. We have been looking at using that, with limited success,” says Lewis. Family-Friendly Farming He has also looked at other possibilities like sorghum, sorghumsudan, sudan-millet, brown mid-rib sorghum, etc. “We want to increase “My wife Katie and I have two daughters, 6 and 8 years old. They are the sugar content in our winter feed which is primarily silages, for us. For beginning to be helpful on the farm. My wife works full-time off the farm, summer, we are looking at a number of things to increase soil but the girls enjoy helping me. It’s amazing how they’ve picked up on productivity—everything from microbes to liming. We are looking at the low-stress livestock handling. My 6-year-old has a very good grasp of possibility of key-line plowing, as well,” he says. Bud Williams’ stock handling techniques. She walks with her arm out and “There are a number of strategies we think we might be able to her eyes down and she can walk right up to almost any steer on the employ, over time, to increase our summer gains. I think it ultimately will property without any fear and has complete control over that animal. It’s be some combination of a number of those things, to try to increase our amazing that a 6-year-old can grasp and understand all of this,” he says. gains and be more consistent with our gains,” he explains. Often children have a good relationship with and ability to handle “Adequate gains in a animals because the reasonable amount of child is trusting and time is essentially the unafraid. If the child name of the game, for has total trust, the grassfed beef. This is animal doesn’t sense where the feedlots have a any nervousness or huge advantage over us; fear and is also they have nearly 100 trusting, with no years of really sharpening negative the pencil with respect to consequences. what makes cattle gain “This is one of the and how. We are trying to most enjoyable things replicate the science of a about being on the feedlot without using any farm fulltime; I get to grain, while keeping the see my children cows on pasture. In a interact with the grassfed operation they livestock and enjoy the are on pasture yearmany benefits of farm round, so when using life. I have pictures of supplements those are all my youngest daughter fed out on the pasture or as a 4-year-old holding Grassfed lamb is an excellent market for the Lewis family in nearby New York City and the farm fed haylage on pasture,” a chicken by its feet. runs the hair sheep with the cattle until lambing and after the lambs weigh 40 pounds. says Lewis. She’ll go and catch a “It all comes down to chicken, flip it upside delivering the proper energy and protein balance with forages. We don’t down and carry it around. It’s so fulfilling to watch kids grow up on the have the flexibility to bring in a commodity and correct deficiencies in a farm. We feel very lucky to be able to have them growing up here, with ration. This makes things a little more challenging,” he says. these experiences,” he says. “The intent and the goal is to raise crops and grazable forages that This is a great way to raise children. “Life and death to them is simply have the energy content that we are looking for. This is the biggest a matter-of-fact reality. We’ll be having steak for dinner and they will say, challenge we face. Marketing, by contrast, has not proven difficult, due to ‘Daddy, is this one of our steers?’ There is no negative connotation.” high demand. We have had tremendous success and can’t begin to They have empathy and sympathy for the animals but the reality of life supply the number of animals we could actually market. Everything else and death is part of their existence. is a work in progress, but the marketing end has been fairly successful— “The thing I am most proud of, in terms of what we are growing on largely based on our geographic position, near the cities,” says Lewis. our farm, is our children. The beef and sheep keep the bills paid, but the “The forage side of it has been challenging and interesting, but we are kids are the special part. It’s a very symbiotic relationship, and the quality striving for more consistency within the cattle, and consistent gains. We of life is very good, as a result,” he says. don’t need ridiculously big gains like 3 pounds a day. If we can average This point was brought home even more clearly after Drew hosted a 1.7 to 2 pounds per day, without drops along the way, this works. We workshop on the farm with Holistic Management educator Ian Mitchell can’t take a month off; we must have consistent gains year-round in order Innes. “I’ve learned that holistic planned grazing is a means to cost to supply a fairly demanding year-round market.” This also creates a effectively manage the soil, the animals, profitability and my time. I’m more acceptable product, since a gaining animal is more tender and especially appreciative of Ian bringing in the concept of making decisions flavorful than one that’s losing weight or merely holding its own. with two generations in mind. This management style keeps farmers on “We can’t afford to have even one negative customer experience. The the land and gives my children opportunity,” he says. With the clear quality has to be there, each and every time. That itself will create market focus on 100% grassfed meat and the grazing production process to get demand for a product. If you can supply a consistent quality, people will Drew the quality he wants, Lewis Brothers Ridge Farm will be able to keep coming back for more. It just keeps multiplying with almost offer that opportunity for the Lewis children far into the future. Number 157

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was tens of thousands of acres unlike any other property around it. Alejandro has accomplished this progression in just over ten years after his initial implementation of Holistic Management. One of the key factors of successfully changing a degraded rangeland environment is moving the management emphasis away from simply manipulating stocking rate under BY JIM GERRISH set stocking to consciously managing the time-space continuum throughout the year. Short grazing periods with high stock densities will improve range ith as many places around the world where I have been, health and vigor regardless of the time of year it is implemented, but much of you might have thought I would have made it to Mexico the gain comes from managing during the dormant season. many years ago. Earlier this spring, Dawn and I made our One of the most impressive things we saw at Rancho las Damas was the first trip ever to visit our neighbors south of the border. die-back of mesquite that was occurring there. A cardinal rule of grassland Whereas most tourists head for the beaches of Cozumel or Cabo, our management, as well as managing life itself, is: Manage for what you want, business took us to the State of Chihuahua where we found no beach at all, not against what you don’t want. (Hence the lack of success with the War on but we did find some good grasslands. Other than being a warmer Drugs, War on Poverty, and War on Terrorism). By managing for the health of environment, the high desert grasslands and rugged mountains were very perennial grasses and not really worrying about what the mesquite was doing, reminiscent of our home in Idaho. Alejandro has changed the moisture profile and biochemistry of the surface soil such that mesquite will no longer grow there. What was once an invasive wave of mesquite crossing the ranch is now isolated survivors slowly drowning in an increasing flood of grass. The second ranch we visited was Tepehuanes Ranch owned and managed by Jesus Almeida. This ranch has been using Holistic Management for around 25 years. Annual precipitation at Rancho las Damas was about 10-12 inches while it is slightly higher at Tepehuanes with normal annual rainfall around 14-16 inches. The elevation is also higher at Tepehuanes with most of the ranch lying between 6,500-7,000 feet elevation. Jesus had brought his pastures into pretty good shape in years gone by. Today his focus is more into adding trees to his environment to create a savanna. There are some native oaks and other hardwood trees on the ranch. Where he had the trees, the landscape was similar to the live oak savannas of north-central California. Since they were in the heart of their dry season it Jim Gerrish and Jesus Almeida surveying a water point developed on also looked a lot like California in late summer. Jesus’ ranch that he has been managing holistically for 25 years. Advantages of savannas include diffuse shade for livestock during the hot Chihuahuan summers, a greater diversity of forage species growing under The primary purpose of the trip was an invitation to speak at the First trees, more production from cool-season forage species under shade rather International Congress on Irrigated Pasture to be held in Chihuahua City. than in open sunlight, and transport of minerals from deeper in the soil profile Since we were going to be down in the neighborhood, we also wanted to to the surface layers. visit a couple of ranches with a history of many years of Holistic Together Jesus and Alejandro also are developing a grass-fed beef Management behind them. We had heard business which is a fairly new concept in Mexico. about the good things happening on these One of the meals served at the Irrigated Pasture ranches and we wanted to see them first Congress in Chihuahua City featured their beef, hand. Having seen them now, I can say it and we also enjoyed some different cuts while was certainly worth the trip. we were out at the ranches. Although it is not The first location was Rancho las Damas available at commercial outlets, Jesus is also owned and managed by Alejandro Carrillo. I producing both goat and cow cheeses from had become acquainted with Alejandro Tepehuanes for their own consumption, but look through Kit Pharo’s discussion forum and to it as another possible value-added product then we became friends via that modern after they master the process. The two or three wonder known as Facebook. Fence line cheeses we tried were comparable in quality to contrast photos had been posted on both of many of the artisinal cheeses we have had the these media, but we all know that if you pick pleasure of sampling in the U.S. one spot along the neighbor’s fence, you can Like so many places around the world where show anything you might want to show. we have visited farms and ranches, it is the This is an example of how the grasses being grown by On the contrary, when you drive across people we meet who really make the trips most Jesus and Alejandro are creating an inhospitable tens of thousands of acres under other enjoyable. Sometimes grass starts to all look environment for the mesquite and is actually killing it. ownership and see just mile after mile of bare the same, even to a grazing guru like me, but soil, invading mesquite, severe erosion, and very few cattle, you then the people are always unique and individual. Having now made our first visit understand the neighboring properties are bona fide degraded landscapes. to Mexico, we are already looking forward to our next. When you pass through a gate or over a cattle guard and the ground is Jim Gerrish is a grazing consultant and can be reached at: covered with thick grass even though they are several months into the dry This article is reprinted with permission of season, you understand there is a real difference. It was not one spot along Stockman Grass Farmer magazine and the author. a single fence nor was it a photo shop manipulation. Rancho las Damas

Grassroots of Grazing—

Grazing Adventures South of the Border




Land & Livestock

September / October 2014

Chad Lemke –


had Lemke has been ranching in Mason County, near the center of Texas in the northwest hill country for many years. “We live where it very seldom rains, the wind always blows, and every now and then we see some green grass! It didn’t used to be that way, but we’ve had drought for the past 8 years or so,” he says. “We’ve learned to adapt, and do whatever we need to do to survive. We run several hundred animals on several thousand acres, but the numbers do fluctuate. We are flexible every year, and sometimes every month. We are constantly monitoring, planning and adjusting,” says Lemke. That kind of monitoring and adaptation is the only way to survive drought.


Beyond the Sale Barn

Chad and Rhona and their 4 daughters: Virginia (right), Margaret (left), and twins, Catherine and Caroline (front). do something about that, soon after he came back to the ranch. “About 9 years ago we took a load of very nice Hereford heifers to an auction. We’d talked to the auction people and told them the heifers were coming, and they should have done well, but because they were Hereford and not black we got docked almost $150 per head. Auctions are great for operators with small numbers of cattle and limited time to devote to ranching. For me, they were not the answer. At that moment I began to look for other alternatives. We researched other avenues and that’s when we got into grass finishing,” he says.

Chad is a 5th generation farmer/rancher. “I grew up in the landscaping business in San Antonio and spent summers and holidays at the ranch. I have only been in charge of the ranch for about 10 years. My family has always ranched in this area. We ranch at multiple locations, and a portion of the ranch has been passed down for many generations. We have increased those holdings over the years, but we have one place that has been in the family for over 100 years,” he says. Maximizing Forage and Browse Chad is working into what would be considered a niche market for multi-species livestock and all natural grassfed animals. “I subscribed to Now the ranch runs cow-calves, stockers, finishers, sheep and goats, many periodicals over the years and attended many grazing clinics and often grazing in one herd. “We do separate out our finishing animals at a field days, including some put on by Holistic Management International, certain point and take them to better quality pasture, but we try to keep Stockman Grassfarmer, ACRES and Texas Organic Farmers and the entire herd as one group most of the year, to take advantage of the Gardeners Organization. When starting out, we learned so much from animal impact and rest periods this method allows,” says Lemke. other producers around the country that could be implemented in our own “There are so many catch phrases today, referring to grazing operation. We just didn’t know management, but we just call it anybody in our area trying these controlled grazing. We may mob graze, On the Lemke Ranch, the sheep and things,” says Lemke. we may move twice daily, or we may “We came back to the ranch with stock for a week or two. We may goats, guard dogs, cows with calves, all set an idea of trying to improve the land have an area with a lot of brush that base that we had, and to turn a profit. we need to tear up, or a brushy area graze together. The late stockers and Many people in agriculture focus on that needs more sheep and goat finishers go to different pastures, but activity. So we are constantly using the profitability second, but to us ranching has to be a business, first and herd and the plant base that we the rest are one big herd. foremost, even though we love the have—trying to maximize what we land and appreciate the opportunity to have growing each year,” he says. be out here.” The grazing animals are a good tool to improve the land and “We thought we had specific goals when we came back, but now landscape. “Things that we used to consider noxious weeds or brush realize our goals are constantly evolving and we keep adapting. Over the suddenly become part of the feeding and grazing program for certain years we have been willing to try anything we read about or heard about animals during certain times of the year,” he says. that sounded feasible. Some things worked very well and others didn’t Weeds become forage if a person can train the animals to eat them. work out so well. Some things work great one year and don’t work at all “If we have a mob with 200 pairs, 100 stockers and 100-200 sheep and the next,” he says. Mother Nature has a big influence on what will actually goats and put them in just 1/2 acre and move them daily or twice a day, work, and now and then she reminds us that we’re not really in control! they start eating a lot more things they may not normally eat. They will eat “When we came back to the ranch, it was a traditional cow-calf nearly all of the plants in that pasture. This has been interesting to see. In operation. We were looking for a better way to use the land base and to the spring and summer when chemical trucks are rolling up and down the be more profitable. I don’t like having the financial success of my road and farmers are spraying their pastures, we just use electric fence to operation tied to the same 8 or 10 people who buy livestock at the local move the animals around to eat the weeds. It’s amazing how well animals auction barns within a 200 mile radius,” he says. It’s not a good thing to do on ‘weeds’ which are technically forbs,” says Lemke. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 have your future in someone else’s hands, and Chad made a decision to Number 157

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Dealing With Drought continued from page eleven

seed can germinate and grow during the winter,” he explains. The annuals planted are usually some of the cool season forage species that do well in cooler weather.

Optimizing Soil Health

Flexibility is Key

There are many ways to tweak and manage pastures for optimum “We’ve been building our electric fence and watering infrastructure production, and the intensive grazing is improving the fertility/productivity ever since we moved back, and are constantly improving and modifying. of the soil. “This is a very long-term process. On our farms we use a lot We have a lot of semi-permanent fence, especially for paddocks that of natural amendments to help the soil. We brew our own compost tea. may be 500 feet wide by 1 or 2 miles long, and then put temporary fence We are constantly experimenting with biological amendments and we across those. This gives us the flexibility at certain times of year to move are planting cover crops mainly with no till planting—to improve pasture twice a day or whenever we need to. This past winter we had so much quality for our late stocker and finishing animals,” he says. forage that we were able to move once a week and this lightened our “We have a combination of native and improved perennial grass base work load and we still have lots of dry grass—and the animals are doing and are constantly adding alfalfas, clovers, and in the winter we may great,” he says. plant vetch, wheat, rye, oats, triticale, “When we get into spring and summer barley, etc. We always try to have a mix we usually tighten up the moves when that includes some legumes. People call the grass is growing. It all depends on the these cocktail mixes, and these are what rainfall. Two years ago we went into we’ve been no-tilling for 10 years. We spring and had no rain at all. We went budget a certain dollar amount per year through 15 months in which we only had for planting and divide it up among the about 3 inches of rain total at one of our various seeds and that’s what we plant places. Fortunately we had a little more for that year. We may go into some rain during the last year and a half, but pastures and plant sweet clover or we try to build flexibility into our grazing turnips to break up the ground; we are plans and our facilities, so that things can constantly modifying and changing be modified as needed,” he explains. each year as we learn and grow,” “I like to have many 30 to 40-acre says Lemke. paddocks and then be able to subdivide “Long-term, the number one goal has them into quarter or half-acre pastures or to be building soil fertility. The days of whatever we need. Flexibility is inexpensive inputs are over. Mob important, especially since we haven’t grazing and manure do an amazing job seen a ‘normal’ year in a long time. at very little cost. This is the best Extreme seems to be the new normal!” ‘fertilizer’. We don’t have a significant Flexibility has helped this ranching amount of earthworm activity like I read operation survive drought. “We are constantly monitoring. Part of our drought The Lemkes run Herefords and have developed a solar water about in other parts of the country, but we do have some. I believe this is contingency plan is to reduce numbers if well drinking station in this valley to improve grazing because this is because we tend to have the year does not look promising. Back in management of the cattle. extended periods of dry more often than 2010 when we entered the current wet. We have seen a significant increase drought we did cull more animals than we in our dung beetle populations, however. We have a lot of ladybugs in wanted to and were forced to cull ruthlessly. We pared numbers down to the spring, which are natural predators for many of the antagonistic what our place could support in a drought. Sometimes this is simply what insects that damage the plants,” Lemke says. This creates a good you have to do to protect your land. It was hard to do, because we had ecosystem in the pastures, and he tries to protect that ecosystem as spent years rebuilding some good genetics. But you can’t make it rain,” much as possible. says Lemke. “We try to introduce things that will be beneficial and not introduce “Some producers north of us say they are in a drought if it doesn’t anything that will be detrimental. It’s an ongoing challenge and rain for 30 to 60 days, but we don’t start worrying about drought until it adventure, and some years are better than others. Some years you put hasn’t rained for 9 months. After 9 months we start worrying about in a cover crop and it does really well and other years you put it in there drought. This helps with our management style because we may only be and wonder if you’d have been better off to just throw those dollar bills in a paddock once or twice a year, depending on the year and the plants, down the river! Many of these things are worth a try, however, and and what time of year we get rain. Being able to let the pastures recover fortunately we’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to do it. We learn for that long really helps. Usually something will grow back,” he says. each year—some things that work and some things that don’t work as “We work hard at not taking more than 50% off the plants at any one well,” he explains. time when we graze a pasture. Our goal is actually about 70 to 75% left “Most of our electric fencing depends on electricity, but we also have behind. We just keep moving on, and those plants recover faster. Certain contingency plans for if we have to use solar chargers. We have back-up times of year we graze the plants harder than that, with intent, if we are water supplies with solar-powered well pumps. We use a pressurized in a wet spring and are trying to control the weed problem, for instance. pipe delivery system when things are ok and if the power goes down (we At that point we may graze a little harder. In the fall, if we are trying to do have issues with that occasionally). We have non-electric back up open up some space for whatever annual growth we can get in the supplies to make it through those times as well. We want to use wintertime, we may take some of the forage down a little more so the 12

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September / October 2014

other supplement to push them to grow faster and fatter, which also helps hide any weaknesses,” says Lemke. “We do use forage-based supplemental feeding if necessary, but it is our goal to not use supplemental feed. Our cow-calf pairs, early stockers, sheep and goats do not get supplemental feeding. They do not need New Challenges and Opportunities additional inputs if they have right kind of genetics. After they go into a stocker and especially a finishing phase, however, we may supplement The cow/calf, sheep and goats are not supposed to need additional them as needed with AGA (American Grassfed Association) approved input if they have right kind of genetics. They are supposed to survive on supplements, mainly forage. We do have some irrigated acres and we what the good Lord gives them.” If producers get too far away from natural conditions and the type of animals that can make it on what nature save our highest quality pastures for the finishing animals, as those irrigated acres come at a high price and should only be used for a high provides, they can’t do it without costly inputs. This is the way people value-added animal,” he says. used to farm and ranch before feeding and feedlots became the norm. “Our sheep and goats lamb and kid in May and we calve in late May to “It is very difficult for small farmers and ranchers to survive doing June. We time it with what is generally the peak forage and production things the traditional way and with the expensive inputs people have times for our area. Most years there will be green grass then,” he says. become accustomed to using. This is why some operations are going The ranch originally had Angus and a small group of Hereford cattle. broke and people have been leaving agriculture. There is a promising bright spot, however, in that there seem to be some young people coming “We got rid of the Angus and built from that small group of Herefords, and started in with the Devon. I really liked the attributes of the Devon and back and wanting to try their hand at agriculture again.” Some have been a generation or two away from it and want to go back to the land. There is wanted to see how they would do in our environment. They perform very well and I think that the Hereford and the Devon also make a good cross,” more interest in this today than there has been in several decades. says Lemke. “We also have more people taking an active interest in the foods they “Our Herefords are the Old World style—the shorter, thicker animals eat. They want to know the story behind it. This is a good thing, and this is rather than the long-legged thinner what we need, as the grassfed industry animals. Ours are very easy fleshing. moves forward. We need stockmen to be up front and transparent in the “I don’t like having the financial success They go back to Anxiety 4th genetics. Early in the last century, it’s said that things they are doing to provide quality of my operation tied to the same 8 or more than 85% of the cattle west of the products. This is one of the things we had Anxiety 4th genetics. work very hard at, in our operation, and 10 people who buy livestock at the local Mississippi Anxiety 4th was the father of the in our group—the Grassfed Livestock auction barns within a 200 mile radius.” American Hereford. Our cattle are built Alliance,” Lemke says. low to the ground and are small There is a growing movement framed. I’ve heard people say that among consumers to know what they there’s not much meat between the brisket and the ground,” says Lemke. are eating, and in taking an active role in their own health. “Most of what we eat here at our ranch is something we have raised and grown, and the You can’t eat those long legs or the daylight under the big cattle. “We have a very tight breeding season and most years our cows are things we don’t raise ourselves we try to get from friends who are close only allowed 2 cycles to breed—roughly 42 days. Anything that doesn’t by. For instance we have a neighbor lady we get our raw milk from, breed in that length of time is sold. This takes care of most fertility because I don’t want to milk cows every day. There are other people we swap vegetables with. They’ll grow certain vegetables and we grow some problems; we also cull any cow that loses a calf or can’t raise a good calf other kinds, and we swap throughout the year. That way, we can all focus for any reason, unless it’s my own fault. We can’t breed efficient cattle by perpetuating problems. We prefer a frame 4 animal because that’s proven on a few things we want to grow, and do it really well, and trade with best for our environment,” he says. The smaller cattle are more efficient people who grow the other things.” This is nothing new; there were times and fertile. when people did this a lot, trading with their neighbors. Now people are “On our ranch we occasionally cross the Herefords and Devon as a looking at ways to be less dependent on centralization and to not have to terminal cross. We plan our bull rotations every 3 or 4 years. We keep our buy foods grown far away where we have no idea about how they were main cow herds pure—one Devon and one Hereford—and the crosses go raised or grown. into the meat program. That first generation cross does really well and it’s fun to experiment. I didn’t grow up in charge of the ranch and so I have no Selecting Genetics for the Environment paradigms to break through. I am willing to try anything that sounds like it “We raise mainly Hereford and Devon cattle on our ranch. We run one might work,” he says. The interesting thing is that usually it does. If a person is open to new herd of Devon and one herd of Hereford and occasionally cross the two ideas and experimentation, they can generally come up with some good breeds. Most of the time we use our own bulls—that we’ve raised— though sometimes we’ll bring in a true heifer bull. In general, however, we innovations—as well as learn what not to do. “We’ve made mistakes and a lot of them had zeros on the end, but we learned from them. The only select bulls from our own genetic base,” Lemke says. This works best, true mistake is one that you don’t learn from,” he says. because he knows the history of his cattle, and knows they are adapted to the climate and environment. “Selecting the genetics that work in our own environment are very Adding Sheep and Goats important, yet many producers have gone away from that over the years “We added sheep and goats to our livestock mix about 6 years ago. because seedstock suppliers convinced us that they knew better—though most of them didn’t. There are some really good seedstock producers out When I was a kid, we had both, but the ranch went away from using multiple species. When we first introduced them back we ran then there, but very few of them raise cattle that are forage based, and that do CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 well on forage alone. They almost always feed their cattle grain or some technology where and when we can (and can afford to) but we also want to not depend on it entirely—just in case. A person has to plan for both situations and be able to use the best of both worlds,” he says.

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Dealing With Drought continued from page thirteen

buying breeding stock, and the best quality meat products if they are buying meat,” he says.

separately. Then I read about someone who grazed them all together and A Family Affair that made sense, so we did it. This was one of the greatest things we’ve “My wife Rhona and I have 4 daughters. Virginia is 21 and finishing up ever done,” says Lemke. a Masters Degree in business at Howard Payne University. Margaret is The various grazers complement one another in their grazing habits 18 and a freshman in college majoring in business and playing basketball and plant use. “It’s amazing how well they work together and move for Tarleton State University. We also have 11-year-old twins, Catherine together. The sheep and goats, guard dogs, cows with calves, all graze and Caroline. They enjoy helping on the ranch and we let them participate together. The late stockers and finishers go to different pastures, but the wherever they can. They don’t do much with the cows and calves but they rest are one big herd,” he says. help a lot with the sheep and goats. They also do the gardening, as well The pastures provide more pounds of meat per acre, running the as managing the mobile chicken pens around the pastures in spring and various species together, than if they are run separately. “We also utilize summer,” says Lemke. our forage base much better, and give “We have a few hens—to have eggs the maximum time between grazing— for our own consumption, but the last for a good, long rest period,” he says. “In the spring and summer when couple of years we’ve been working with meat chickens. I am amazed at the chemical trucks are rolling up and Grassfed Livestock Alliance number of people who want local down the road and farmers are pasture-raised chicken with no Lemke is the Production Manager for the Grassfed Livestock Alliance. The spraying their pastures, we just use antibiotics, hormones or chemicals. This is still a new enterprise for us, but GLA has producers throughout the electric fence to move the animals a growing one. The girls help feed the southwest in Texas, Oklahoma, chickens and make sure they have Louisiana and Arkansas. “All of our around to eat the weeds.” water, and do whatever needs to be producers are required to be members done on a day-to-day basis,” he says. (in good standing) of the American The girls are getting very good at their Grassfed Association (AGA) and follow tasks. Every day is a learning experience, and they are learning as their grassfed standards. Those are the standards we believe in. As the they work. industry grows, there has to be a certifying organization that leads the “We are all still learning,” Lemke notes. He chuckles at people who way in defining what grassfed is and isn’t, and I believe that the AGA is claim to be experts and claims there is no such thing. The first thing he the organization to do it. There are too many people out there claiming they are grassfed, but not backing this up with any kind of certification.” In tells producers is that he is not an expert, and that if someone comes to our place saying they are an expert, show them the gate. January 2014 Lemke was named to the AGA Board of Directors. “A person who always thinks he/she is still the teacher and not the “Grassfed is somewhat of a fledgling enterprise today, even though pupil is usually too closed-minded to learn anything new. Even when you this is the way farmers and ranchers used to finish animals—for think you have something figured out, something new comes along that centuries— until feedlots became the norm. Grassfed is nothing new, but producers are rediscovering it has some difficulties. We work very hard to requires a different approach—and you realize how little you truly know and how much you still have to learn.” provide our customers with the best quality breeding stock if they are

The Charter Trials continued from page three

2,000 paddocks per herd. His herd calved on green grass. He used higher protein supplementation when the cattle were on dry grass in the winter. Zietsman says the most unfinished of his management changes is improving the cattle genotype for higher inherent body condition and greater disease and parasite resistance. He uses figures from the Charter Estate trials and from his own ranch data to show maximum sustainable stocking rate is the most important economic factor in ranch


Land & Livestock

management. (See sidebar on page 3). On top of that, he says, when you triple stocking rate on a cow-calf operation, you only need a 30% calving rate to equal the profit from a conventional cow-calf operation with an 80% calving rate. These are particularly interesting numbers in light of a study featured in the January 2013 issue of Beef Producer. At the request of this magazine, Texas economist Stan Bevers used real numbers from the standardized database he keeps on ranches in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

September / October 2014

Bevers calculated 30% higher gross return per herd from only a 50% sustainable increase in stocking rate. He also estimated an 8.5% increase in net profit per female. That story can be found in the archives section of “When people are presented with these facts ... it becomes very obvious that increasing stocking rate by utilizing grass more efficiently and growing more of it, whilst improving the land, is the only logical way forward,” Zietsman says. This article is reprinted by permission from Beef Producer where it was first printed. To learn more about Beef Producer go to:

winter, and see what advice he might have. We brought him here in 2012 in early April, and that year in Minnesota it was the winter that didn’t exist! It was so mild that we had green grass already by April. It was great to have him at our place, however, and we learned a lot from him,” BY HEATHER SMITH THOMAS says Grant. “My best description/explanation of Holistic Management is that the more we learn, the less we know. But this mind-set opens a person to ocated in southwestern Minnesota near Redwood Falls, the learning, and letting the cattle teach you. One of Ian’s big things is the Breitkrutz farm began practicing Holistic Management a few importance of observation. Our operation is quite hectic in the summer years ago. Grant and his wife Dawn took over his parents’ farm because we have a custom baling business besides taking the care of the in 1996. cattle. We sometimes lack observation, but the cows can still tell us a lot, “At that time it was primarily corn, soybeans and wheat, with 58 head if a person pays attention,” he says. of beef cattle, and we finished all the cattle. Today my wife and I are still “When Dawn and I took over, we were feeding cows by late August at it, but now we have 130 stock cows, my brother and his wife have and September. The past 3 years we’ve about 40 cows, and we have a cousin who been through terrible drought in our area. has 20 cows with us, managed all as one This winter, we had to start feeding fairly herd. We no longer finish all the cattle—just early, but the 2 previous years we made it 2 some of them for direct marketing. We sell to 3 months longer than any of our neighbors quarters, halves, or a whole beef to people before we had to feed hay. On our home who want freezer beef,” says Grant. farm we are also running nearly twice the In the process of developing a direct number of animals we used to. This is a market beef operation the Breitkreutz family good example of the increased production has learned how to improve their land and on our pastures,” says Grant. grazing management through Holistic “We haven’t sprayed or fertilized pastures Management and finding the support of a for at least 7 years now. Improved grazing few like-minded grazier. While the road is management eliminated most of our not always easy (including a recent problems, and increased our production. drought), the Breitkreutz family has found This will be a work in progress, however, that this new management is paying off. until the day we quit. Every year is different, so we learn something new every year, New Practices = New which gives us a bit more directive for the Opportunities future—enabling us to be more prepared for many things.” Every farm or ranch, “When Dawn and I bought out my Mom every pasture, is unique, and a person and Dad, we only had 58 cows and learns to fine-tune for optimum generally ran out of pasture by the end of management practices. August or early September and we’d have to Dawn, Grant and Karlie Breitkreutz In the process, Grant and Dawn went start feeding hay. Through the NRCS from February-March calving to late April and programs we have in Minnesota, we started subdividing pastures for some rotational grazing, and quickly saw a direct May calving. “This seems to fit our environment fairly well, though we are still tweaking our time of calving. Every year is different! Last year it increase in feed production,” he says. wasn’t very good weather even in May. We were still having snowstorms He did a lot of reading about grazing management and realized there were ways to increase forage production even more. “We looked into MIG the first week in May, and actually had to calve the cows here in the yard and move the pairs out to the hilltops as they calved. We didn’t have any (management intensive grazing) systems and mob grazing. We slowly started to try implementing these things but at that point had no idea what grass yet that would carry a cow, while we were calving,” Grant says. The herd is mostly Red Angus, with some Black Angus. “We pretty we were doing,” says Grant. much try to stay with straight Red Angus without any crossbreeding. We Three winters ago he and Dawn went to a 3-day class in Missouri put did try some crossbreeding for awhile, but in doing that we lost our ability on by Ian Mitchell-Innes. “We got a better idea of what to do, to increase to retain females for the herd. We like to keep all our own replacements, our production, and how to better manage the cattle. With this and with crossbreeding a person needs to have several breeding groups. encouragement we started trying to do this, and realized we still didn’t We basically run our cows in two pasture allotments and it is hard to use understand it. There’s quite a learning curve! While we were at the class terminal bulls and maintain the ability to keep replacement heifers unless in Missouri we kept telling Ian that our winters were a challenge and you have the cattle in different groups,” says Grant. asked him what we should do with the cattle in the winter.” “One thing we learned through the Holistic Management is that it’s so On the third day, Ian finally asked them why they even had any cattle much easier to manage one cow herd instead of five, and that’s what we on their place during winter. “We told him we didn’t want to switch to were doing when we were trying to crossbreed.” There are plusses and grazing stocker cattle in the summer. A person doesn’t want to give up a minuses with every situation and a person often has to prioritize. You cow herd that has taken decades to build—that you and your parents sacrifice some benefits in order to optimize the others. have worked with your whole life,” says Grant. There’s been a lot of “We were very fortunate when we bought my parents’ cows. They selection and fine-tuning, and when you have some genetics that work well, you want to keep them. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16 “Our solution to that question was to bring Ian to our place during

Breitkreutz Farm—

Learning from the Cattle


Number 157

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Learning from the Cattle continued from page fifteen

were on a good breeding program, using moderate size bulls. We had a neighbor who was in the purebred business for many years and he told me to keep buying those same kind of bulls. He advised me to not follow the trends and fads, and not let anyone talk me into something different. I am glad that my Dad was on the right path, and we had a neighbor who backed it up. Dad had the foresight to keep cow size and traits at a happy medium, in the middle of the road.”

Investments Pay Off

Grant’s advice to people who want to improve their grazing management and increase their forage supplies is to find someone in their area who is doing it, to get ideas and advice. “It was hard for us to get started because there is no one here in our area who was doing this. We had to find our path on our own. We had a lot of laughs and ridicule from the neighbors, and currently have neighbors we have a hard time working with anymore because they are still on the traditional way of thinking that a person has to keep increasing the production of the cattle. By contrast, we are looking at the profitability end of it,” he says. “Somewhere along the way, in the classes we attended, someone recommended that people trying Holistic Management need to get a support group. Our support group is mostly within our own family but we do have a couple outsiders who keep encouraging us and telling us we are going the right direction,” says Grant. “Two years ago when we were in extreme drought, with extreme heat, we and some of our neighbors were losing cattle to the heat, and I was ready to throw my hands up, tired of moving cattle every day. Then on August first, we got hit by a tremendous windstorm and hail, but we received 1.7 inches of rain out of it. From that moisture we got 3 to 10 inches of regrowth in our pastures, whereas our neighbors’ pastures didn’t even green up. That contrast was the shot in the arm that I needed, to keep doing this, realizing we were on the right track.” The plants were in better shape than those in the neighbors’ pastures. “Another big thing we’ve noticed is a drop in inputs. We are not

The Breitkreutz family have been working on having the cattle on pasture more in the winter so as to keep the cow herd intact. They have shifted to calving later in April and May. 16

Land & Livestock

September / October 2014

The Breitkreutz family raise predominantly a medium frame Red Angus. writing checks to a lot of suppliers; we’re not spending as much money or as often as we used to, because we don’t spray or fertilize those pastures anymore. We do spend more money than we used to on ATV’s, temporary wire and fence posts, and putting a lot more money into water sources and infrastructure for the various pastures. We’ve put in a lot of water lines and tanks in the past 7 to 8 years, and are still putting some in,” he says. This has made the pasture management more efficient and productive.

Adapting to New Practices

For the most part, the cattle have also become more productive. “Most of them do very well in this type of grazing system, but we’ve noticed there are some cattle that do not like being in big groups with high intensity grazing. We’ve noticed that some of them don’t do as well as the other cows. That boils down to observation, and the solution is not keeping offspring from those animals,” says Grant. A person has to sort and cull to build a herd that fits the farm conditions. Some cattle adapt better than others. To create the best herd for any farm, there are many traits and characteristics that a person has to select for or against, whether it’s disposition, feed efficiency, hardiness, reproduction, etc. The ability to thrive in an intensive grazing situation is just one more trait that is important in this type of production system. Cattle have to fit the environment they are raised in. “We’ve had some help from Mike Wichman (Wick’s Livestock Nutrition) in Nebraska, and have gone away from a lot of the pour-on treatments. We haven’t poured our cows for 3 years. Mike has helped us with the nutrition end of it to help reduce the parasites—both lice and internal parasites. We still get a few lice every winter, but Mike got us on a program in which we just increase the sulfur level in our feeds and minerals, and that tends to take care of the lice problem,” says Grant. The sulfur makes the animal less attractive to the lice and other parasites, like a human eating garlic. “Mike has been great to work with because he looks at things holistically also. He’s an independent nutritionist and mineral supplier. He also carries apple cider vinegar and we use that in the summer in the water supply to repel flies. If we can’t move cattle far enough to new pastures to get away from the manure where the flies are breeding, we put apple cider vinegar in their water, and this helps reduce the fly load on the cattle.”

If cattle are moved far enough away, and don’t come back to that pasture for a long time, this can help break the parasite life cycle, whether flies or worms. “Moving cows all the time, we keep moving away from the flies and the internal parasites in the manure. In our region, however, we normally have pretty high rainfall and have good pasture regrowth and generally don’t have to move cattle very far. Often the flies can still find the cows. That’s why we use the minerals and the apple cider vinegar to help inhibit the flies,” says Grant. Some cattle tend to be more naturally resistant to flies as well. There are definitely ways to get by with less chemical inputs. “We are not organic, but our goal is to use less and less inputs with our livestock and our cropping operation. What we are doing here is a long-term effort. We realize it will take time before we see all the benefits from the changes in our production styles. One thing we’ve noticed is that it takes a year or more before a person sees the results of something we

did earlier—both the good or not-so-good results. You don’t always know what works, or which way things are going, until a few years down the line,” he explains. “This is what we’ve noticed on weed control, and pasture production. If we have adequate rainfalls, we see the results by the next year. But with the drought we’ve had, it may be 3 or 4 years down the line before we know,” says Grant. But for the Breitkreutz family can handle this kind of timeframe if they need to because they have the knowledge and support necessary to keep making good management decisions to create the healthy land they want. With an interest in improving their land and animal management and in a lifetime of learning, they are poised to pass on a profitable farm to their fifteen year old daughter, Karlie, who is already taking more of a role in the grazing management—another generation of Breitkreutz ready to learn from the cattle.

A Holistic Approach to Investing continued from page six

impossible dream. 5. Find a mentor. There is no better way to learn than from a mentor. Find someone you admire, someone of good character, someone you think is successful. Cultivate that friendship. Most people are anxious to help when you ask. 6. Networking. None of us can know it all. What we can do is to develop a network of friends with a wide variety of

knowledge. We can call on this network whenever necessary. 7. Read good books. Reading good books is one of the best ways to learn. Become a lifelong learner. 8. Improve your time management. Each day gives you 86,400 seconds. Learn to spend your time wisely. Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is a great resource.

people programs projects N E W S F R O M H O L I S T I C M A N AG E M E N T I N T E R N AT I O N A L

PastureMap Entrepreneurs win CommonBond Social Impact Award HMI is pleased to announce that Christine Sue and Jennifer Tsau of Summer Technologies won the CommonBond Social Impact Award for the top MBA social entrepreneur of 2014. Summer Technologies is the first sustainable agriculture startup to ever win a national social impact award. When Christine and Jennifer spoke to 200+ business leaders at the award event, they explained the need for sustainable grazing and innovation in our food system and how their product,

PastureMap will help ranchers. Christine recently completed a joint MBA and Master’s in Land Use and Agriculture at Stanford. She has worked as a ranch hand on a family-owned dairy in Japan, on a hazelnut nursery that is Bhutan’s biggest social venture, and Earthbound Farm in California. To learn more about Summer Technologies and its beta product PastureMap go to: If you are interested in providing input or testing a beta version of this product, contact Christine at:

9. Join a management club. There is nothing like a group of close, intimate friends to help you grow and succeed. 10. Any other good idea you may have. I wish you success with your endeavors. Remember investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. Don Campbell is a Holistic Management Certified Educator who ranches near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada. He can be reached at:

HMI Practitioner Map

Are you practicing Holistic Management? Are you willing to answer questions from neighbors and community members? List yourself on HMI’s practitioner map. HMI often receives the question: “Is there anyone practicing Holistic Management in my area?” If you are willing we will add you to our HMI Resource Map so people from your area can contact you if they are interested in Holistic Management. You can set the amount of help you are willing to give (once a year field day, answering emails, etc.). We’ll help you write the copy and you can let potential consumers know the products you offer. This is a great way to get your name out there as a Holistic Management practitioner. Contact HMI’s Communication Director, Sandy Langelier at: or 505/8425252 X102 to get your information on our map. Number 157


DEVELOPMENT CORNER Beginning Women Farmers Update

New Hampshire HMI’s 2014 Beginning Women Farmer Program, funded by the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program has also wrapped up all course work. The New Hampshire program coordinated by Kate Kerman of Small and Beginning Farmers of New Hampshire, completed all 10 sessions by the end of April. Lead instructors were Seth Wilner, Phil Metzger, and Calley Hastings. Mentors for the program were Ray Conner and Melissa Blindow. Here’s what we’ve learned from our New Hampshire participants who graduated: Demographics • 88% are currently farming • The average years of farming was 5 years • The average acres under production was 3 acres under production • The average age was 38 years old • The types of farm operations were as follows: • Cattle/Cow/Calf (1), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (6), Poultry (2) • The total customers of all participants was 308 with an average of 61 retail customers per participants.

Participant satisfaction level for the program was 100% and 100% of the participants completed or modified a whole farm goal and a grazing plan. 88% of participants completed or modified a financial plan, a business plan, and a marketing plan, with 75% of participants completing or modifying a land plan. 88% of the participants forged relationships that positively impacted them. When participants were asked how the program positively impacted them, they noted that it was a great source of shared information, provided networking connections and an opportunity to engage with supportive fellow farmers, and find new customers.100% of this group intend to keep farming as a result of this training. Massachusetts We also have the results tabulated from HMI’s Massachusetts 2014 Beginning Women Farmer Program. The Massachusetts program was coordinated by Devon Whitney-Deal of Community Involved in Supporting Agriculture. Lead instructors were Missy Bahret, HMI’s Beginning Women Farmer Phil Metzger, Crystal Stewart, Massachusetts coordinator Devon Jessie Schmidt, and Calley Whitney-Deal talks with participants Hastings. Mentors for the during their graduation ceremony. program were Brittany Sidway, Chanya Sae-Eaw, and Sonya Harms. Here’s what we’ve learned from our Massachusetts participants who graduated: • The average years of farming was 4 years • The average acres under production was 18 acres • The average age was 41 years old • The types of farm operations were as follows: Cattle/Cow/Calf (4), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (12), Pigs/Hogs (2), Sheep 18 IN PRACTICE

September / October 2014

(1), Goat (1), Honey (1), Dairy (2), Herbs (4), Cheese (1), Hay (1), Flowers (3), and Agritourism (1). • The total customers of all participants: Retail – Average 213 (total 1,915); Wholesale – Average 43 (total 259) • 89% of participants intend to continue farming BWF Participant Behavior Change Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan Grazing Plan

Marketing Plan Financial Plan

Year One Percentage 100% 89% 89% 83%

Biological Monitoring


Land Plan


Business Plan

Forge Relationships That Positively Impacted You Key Areas of Increased Satisfaction

Satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit

Satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions Satisfaction with Time Management

Satisfaction with Communication



% Participants Experiencing Change 89%




Thanks to the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program for their grant in support of this programming.

NY Women Farmers Meet Legislators

In July graduates of HMI’s New York Beginning Women Farmers program as well as a wider group of New York women farmers gathered for a roundtable event with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk. Twenty-five women farmers of all ages, stages and production, plus fifteen or so agency folks and local politicians were there to Senator Tkaczyk, Senator Gillibrand, and represent a diversity of HMI’s New York Beginning Women Farmer experience in Athens Coordinator, Sarah Williford. New York. Participants discussed affordable and secure access to land including wanting land held by non-profits to ensure that farmland will be farmed in perpetuity, access to capital for women farmers, migrant labor, and excessive regulations creating obstacles and high costs for slaughterhouses to exist. Both Senator Tkaczyk and Senator Gillibrand will be following up with the group through an Agriculture working group.

Open Gate Updates

Tablas Creek Vineyard Day In June the Tablas Creek Vineyard in California was the venue for HMI’s first Open Gate focused on wine growing with 45 attendees. Levi Glenn, the viticulturist at Tablas Creek Vineyard, gave a quick overview of the certified

organic production process he uses where sheep trim and fertilize between the rows in the nongrowing season. Levi said that while the sheep pose some management challenges, the benefits make it well worthwhile. Rob Rutherford, a sheep Certified Educator Rob Rutherford specialist, retired professor, and explains the key Holistic Holistic Management Certified Management principles. Educator explained basically that top production comes from deeply understanding why you do what you do, which then gives rise to the how you do it and finally gets to the result of the process and production. Levi invited a couple of his neighbors, who also use holistic grazing in their vineyards, to join a panel moderated by former Cal Poly lecturer and vineyard manager, Craig Macmillan. Chris Behr of Oso Libre Winery explained his sustainable practices such as wind and solar power, electric vehicles and the sheep, cattle and chickens that tend his vineyard. Laird Foshay talked about his 1500-acre cattle and sheep ranch that surrounds his vineyard and of his partnership with J&R Meats and their mobile harvest unit, a slaughterhouse on wheels. Holistic Management Certified Educator, Kelly Mulville shared his experience with extending the grazing period in vineyards in both the US and Australia. His presentation shows impressive data that irrigation use was decreased by 90% and yield increased by 1,245 pounds per acre and the cost-of-farming savings about $400 per acre per year. These studies were done during drought. The grazing animals were trained with electric fencing not to eat the grape vines. The fences were set higher for easier Certified Educator Kelly Mulville explaining land health criteria

picking and training of the livestock. This training allowed the planned grazing to take place year-round. There were a number of small group exercises and the following knowledge and behavior change was achieved:

TomKat Ranch Day

It was a cool and cloudy spring day in May at the TomKat Ranch when 50+ into 3 participants divided themselves DEVELOPMENT CORNER groups based on interest. Holistic continued from page Management Certified Educator seventeen Richard King led his bunch in a Certified Educator Richard King discussion on building profit, explains key holistic grazing productivity and biodiversity with planning principles. livestock. Holistic Management Certified Educator Rob Rutherford led a discussion about the costs and effectiveness of Holistic Management, and Holistic Management Certified Educator Kelly Mulville’s group discussed the role of livestock in farming and research showing the increase in productivity in vineyards when livestock are added. The groups then formed to either experience stockmanship with Kent Reeves, hear the latest scientific research on carbon sequestration with John Wick, or to practice forage assessment with TomKat’s grazier Mike Giannini and Richard King. The folks had a chance to ask questions and apply techniques discussed. After lunch, Ranch Manager Jeremiah Stent and biologist Carlie Henneman led a walking tour of the valley section of the ranch. Kent Reeves explained lowParticipants discussed grazing strategies for stress livestock handling both the cattle and the horses, looked at the skills to participants. differences in pastures grazed at higher stock densities for shorter time vs. lower stock density (more space to graze) for longer time, and talked about the increasing diversity in her bird census. After surveying the participants who attended the TomKat Ranch Day Open Gate, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes, including: Participant Evaluation Results

Knowledge/Confidence Increase

Critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth How to assess forage quantity and quality

How to plan grazing based on plant recovery needs

The sheep at Tablas Creek Vineyard.


Would you recommend this event to others?

Did you expand your learning network of people and resources?

Do you intend to change any management practices/ apply ideas you learned in this event?

Do you intend to pursue biological monitoring on your land as a result of today’s event?

Are you more confident in your ability to incorporate new management strategies in a vineyard?

Increased knowledge of Holistic Management principles Increased knowledge of decision making frameworks

% Participants 100%

100% 94%

Grazing strategies to build regenerative and resilient soil Behavior Change

Confidence in ability to analyze ecosystem health




% of Participants 68%


Intend to complete a biological monitoring on their land as a result of today’s event


Confidence in ability to determine plant recovery

Intend to change any management practices/apply ideas they learned in this event Expanded network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available


Overall Satisfaction of the event



Confidence in ability to improve land health

73% 80%

% Increase


90% 100%

Would recommend this event to others


Facilitator’s Effectiveness


Presenters’ Effectiveness



Number 157




The following Certified Educators listed have been trained to teach and coach individuals in Holistic Management. On a yearly basis, Certified Educators renew their agreement to be affiliated with HMI. This agreement requires their commitment to practice Holistic Management in their own lives and to seek out opportunities for staying current with the latest developments in Holistic Management.

U N I T E D S TAT E S Tim McGaffic


Roland Kroos

P.O. Box 1903, Cave Creek, AZ 85331 808/936-5749 •

Lee Altier


4926 Itana Circle, Bozeman, MT 59715 406/522-3862 • 406/581-3038 (c)


College of Agriculture, CSU 400 West First St., Chico, CA 95929-0310 • 530/636-2525

Owen Hablutzel

4235 W. 63rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90043 310/567-6862 •

Richard King

Poppy Hill Farm, 1675 Adobe Rd., Petaluma, CA 94954 • 707/217-2308 (c)

Mulville *P.O.Kelly Box 23, Paicines, CA 95043

707/431-8060 •

◆ Rob Rutherford

4757 Bridgecreek Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805/544-5781 (h) • 805/550-4858 (c)

Montagne *P.O.Cliff Box 173120, MSU, Dept of Land

Resources and Environmental Science, Bozeman, MT 59717 406/599-7755 (c)


Paul Swanson

5155 West 12th St., Hastings, NE 68901 402/463-8507 • 402/705-1241 (c)

Ralph Tate

1109 Timber Dr., Papillion, NE 68046 402/932-3405 •


Kerman *350Kate Troy Road, Marlborough, NH 03455


◆ Seth Wilner


Cindy Dvergsten

17702 County Rd. 23, Dolores, CO 81323 970/882-4222 •

24 Main Street, Newport, NH 03773 603/863-4497 (h) • 603/863-9200 (w)

Katie Miller

22755 E. Garrett Rd., Calhan, CO 80808-9170 970/310-0852 •



Torray & Erin Wilson

4375 Pierce Ave., Paullina, IA 51046-7401 712/448-3870 •


Vivianne Holmes

239 E Buckfield Rd., Buckfield, ME 04220-4209 207/336-2484 •

Larry Dyer


Judi Earl


“Glen Orton” Coolatai, NSW 2402 +61 4 09 151 969 (c) •

Graeme Hand

150 Caroona Lane, Branxholme, VIC 3302 61-3-5578-6272 (h), 61-4-1853-2130 (c)

Dick Richardson

Frogmore, Boorowa NSW 2586 61-0-263853217 (w) • 61-0-263856224 (h) 61-0-429069001 (c) • Pine Scrub Creek, Kindee, NSW 2446 61-2-6587-4353 (h) • 61 04087 404 431 (c)


*3421MaeCedarRoseAve.Petrehn S, Minneapolis, MN 55407 913/707-7723 (c)

MISSISSIPPI 601/384-5310 (h) • 601/835-6124 (c)


Don Campbell


Box 817 Meadow Lake, SK S0X 1Y6 306/236-6088 •

Linda & Ralph Corcoran

Sullivan *610Preston Ed Sullivan Lane NE, Meadville, MS 39653


Management instruction on behalf of the institutions they represent.

These associate educators provide educational services to their communities and peer groups.

NEW MEXICO ◆ Ann Adams

Holistic Management International 5941 Jefferson St. NE, Suite B Albuquerque, NM 87109 • 505/842-5252

Kirk Gadzia

P.O. Box 1100, Bernalillo, NM 87004 505/867-4685 • 505/263-8677 (c)

NEW YORK Craig Leggett

6143 SR 9, Chestertown, NY 12817 518/494-2324 (h) • 970/946-1771 (c)

Erica Frenay *Shelterbelt Farm

For more information about or application forms for the HMI’s Certified Educator Training Programs, contact Ann Adams or visit our website: SOUTH DAKOTA Randal Holmquist

*25267 Holmquist Rd.

Reliance, SD 57569 605/473-5356 •

Guy Glosson


6717 Hwy. 380, Snyder, TX 79549 806/237-2554 •

Peggy Maddox

P.O. Box 694, Ozona, TX 76943-0694 325/392-2292 • 325/226-3042 (c)

Sechrist *106Peggy Thunderbird Ranch Road

Fredericksburg, TX 78624 830/456-5587 (c) •

VERMONT Calley Hastings

200 Creamery Rd., Brooktondale, NY 14817 607/539-1179 (h) • 604/342-3771 (c)

787 Kibbee Rd., Brookfield, VT 05036 802/279-3893 •

P.O. Box 185, Austerlitz, NY 12017 518/567-9476 •

WASHINGTON Sandra Matheson

120 Thompson Creek Rd., Norwich, NY 13815 607/316-4182 •

◆ Don Nelson

Elizabeth Marks Phillip Metzger

NORTH DAKOTA Joshua Dukart

2539 Clover Place, Bismarck, ND 58503 701/870-1184 •

228 E. Smith Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226 360/220-5103 •

Washington State University 121 Clark Hall, Pullman, WA 99164-6310 509/335-2922 •


*Southwest Badger Resource Conservation &

52 NW Macleay Blvd, Portland, OR 97210 541/610-7084 •

Development Council N893 Kranz Rd., Columbus, WI 53925 608/732-1202 (w) • 920/623-4407 (h) 608/338-9039 (c) •

Blain Hjertaas

Usiel Seuakouje Kandjii

Jeff Goebel



Brian Wehlburg

1113 Klondike Ave, Petoskey, MI 49770 231/347-7162 (h) • 231/881-2784 (c)

◆ These educators provide Holistic

Box 36, Langbank, SK S0G 2X0 306/532-4778 •

Allison Guichon

*Box 10, Quilchena, BC V0E 2R0

250/378-9734 •

September / October 2014

Box 760, Redvers, Saskatchewan SOC 2HO 306/452-3882 • 306/452-7723 (c)

Brian Luce

RR #4, Ponoka, AB T4J 1R4 403/783-6518 •

Tony McQuail

86016 Creek Line, RR#1, Lucknow, ON N0G 2H0 519/528-2493 •

Pigott *BoxLen 222, Dysart, SK, SOH 1HO

306/432-4583 •

Kelly Sidoryk

P.O. Box 374, Lloydminster, AB S9V 0Y4 780/875-9806 (h) • 780/875-4418 (c)

KENYA Christine C. Jost

International Livestock Research Institute Box 30677, Nairobi 00100 254-736-715-417 (c) •

NAMIBIA Wiebke Volkmann

P.O. Box 9285, Windhoek 264-61-225183 or 264-81-127-0081

P.O. Box 23319, Windhoek 9000 264-812840426 (c) • 264-61-244028 (h)


John King

*P.O. Box 12011, Beckenham

Christchurch 8242 64-276-737-885 •


Solar Addicts, P.O. Box 537 Mokopane, 0600 South Africa 27-0-15-491-5286 +27 87 5500 255 (h) • +27 82 805 3274 (c)

Sheldon Barnes

P.O. Box 300, Kimberley 8300 +27 82 948 2585 (c); +27 866 369 362 (f)


*32 Dart Close, St. Ives

Cambridge, PE27 3JB 44-1480-496-2925 (h) • +44 7837 405483 (w)

Book Review


Green Revolution Delusion—A False Promise


any folks have heard of Walt Davis because of his long-time outreach as a ranching consultant. Walt has been an important contributor to the Holistic Management community for years. His previous book published in 2011, How Not to Go Broke Ranching, has been an important book to put in print what Walt has been sharing through workshops all these years. His experience with ranching and his knowledge about what makes for a profitable and sustainable ranching operation is a valuable resource for beginning and experienced ranchers alike. Certainly the title, How Not to Go Broke Ranching lends itself to a ranching audience interested in reading a rancher’s thoughts. As noted on the back cover of the Green Revolution Delusion, this novel was written with the hope of educating a mainstream audience about the false promise of industrialized agriculture. So it was with great interest that I picked up Green Revolution Delusion to see how Walt would tackle this subject matter. The book begins along the California coastline in 1849 and takes us to the present day in Ohio. It follows the lives of two farm families, the Bristols and the Yoder/Weaver family. For the agriculturally uninitiated this novel offers a fascinating story of how much agriculture has changed during that time and all the various influences that have affected the quality of life, profitability, and health of the agricultural land and the people in those rural communities. The plot pulls you in from the beginning as the reader moves back and forth in time from the founding of the Bristol Farm to the challenges that Hank Weaver faces on his family farm in Ohio. What plays out in America with these engaging characters gives you insight into what is playing out around the world on an even


more devastating scale. Given that many developing countries do not have the social safety net that America provides, then the “false promise” renders farmers in those countries extremely vulnerable. And as we find out in the novel, the U.S. safety net isn’t enough and many real farmers have experienced exactly what some of the characters experience. As Gabe Brown, a regenerative rancher from Bismarck, North Dakota wrote: “I picked up the book Green Revolution Delusion and did not set it down until I had read it in its entirety, it was that compelling! The story of the history of production agriculture in the USA as told by the characters in this book bring to light the fact that the industrial agriculture model being touted and used in this country is not working. It truly is a model of ‘False Promise.’ As a producer who once believed in the industrial model and who came to realize the fallacy of it, I can tell you this book brings it all to life. It is a story that will make everyone think every time they sit down for a meal!” So, if you are a beginning farmer or rancher and can’t bear to read manuals on financial planning or soil fertility, I would highly recommend that you read this novel to give yourself some of the critical information you will need to stay in business and not fall into the high production/high input trap. There are parts of the novel that read like a business decision case, with charts included, that spell out the dangers. While this book inspires hope through family farms and an increasingly knowledgeable citizenry, it is also a cautionary tale of the power of corporate interests. Ultimately, Green Revolution Delusion is a story of how nature is forcing us to come to terms with the fact that farming is a biological process, not an industrial one. Only through collaboration and cooperation, sharing of knowledge, and caring for the land can we create a true “green revolution.” To order this book go to:


l Services, Inc. KINSEY Agricultura


How many animals truly receive feed that has been grown with correct nutrients added to the soil? 95+% of all pasture and hay soils we test do not have the fertility required to provide the animals that eat it with even close to good nutrition. What about yours? You can only manage what you correctly measure. Soil test as soon as conditions permit to add lime or other needed nutrients for pasture and hay crops.

For consulting or educational services contact:

Kinsey Agricultural Services, Inc. 297 County Highway 357 Charleston, Missouri 63834

Ph: 573/683-3880, Fax: 573/683-6227 •

Soil test as soon as conditions permit to add lime or other needed nutrients for pasture and hay crops.

Number 157



2015 DATES!!!!


Holistic Management Trainings Jan. 26-31, 2015 Albuquerque, New Mexico with instructor Kirk Gadzia

Achieve success with —

Introduction to Holistic Management Jan. 26-28: $495 Advanced Training Session (Requires prior attendance at intro session.)


Pasture Scene Investigation

By World Famous Dr. Grandin Originator of Curved Ranch Corrals The wide curved Lane makes filling the crowding tub easy. Includes detailed drawings for loading ramp, V chute, round crowd pen, dip vat, gates and hinges. Plus cell center layouts and layouts compatible with electronic sorting systems. Articles on cattle behavior. 27 corral layouts. $55. Low Stress Cattle Handling Video $59. Send checks/money order to:


Kirk L. Gadzia, Certified Educator

2918 Silver Plume Dr., Unit C-3 Fort Collins, CO 80526

Information and Registration:

Resource Management Services, LLC Bernalillo, NM ~ 505.263.8677


September / October 2014


People: Learn to differentiate between standard of living and quality of life Land: Leave a legacy, improve the land Finances: Make a profit every year

Holistic Management Facilitators: DON & BEV CAMPBELL Box 817, Meadow Lake SK S9x 1Y6 306/236-6088 •


Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014 November 7-9, 2014



Dixon Water Foundation Leo Ranch Decatur, Texas

This in-depth, multiauthored work, originally published in France, takes readers deep into the contemporary world of shepherds and the extraordinary connection between them and their herds. Discover how traditional herding methods are more fitting to many landscapes than eevven the most progressive rotational grazing and moveable fencing systems. ˞˦ˢ˟˧˒ǢŸ¯ǼǼOŸɚsNj˒ˣˢˣƼ¶sǣ˒̱ˢ˟ʳ˟˟

Co-hosted by HMI and Dixon Water Foundation

This unique event will include the Josey Pavilion Grand Opening, HMI’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, and two Open Gate Ranch Days. Along the way we’ll also enjoy lots of delicious local cuisine and some great music and entertainment.

Lots of speakers and presenters including: Courtney White, Dr. Richard Teague, Peggy Sechrist, Dr. Lisa Bellows, Rob Rutherford, Wayne Knight, Kelly Sidoryk, Dr. Ben Bartlett, Jerry Addison, Sue and Gary Price, Robby Tuggle, and Deborah Birdwell-Clark.

To learn more or register:

Acres U.S.A. / P.O. Box 301209 / Austin, Texas 78703 U.S.A. 512-892-4400 / fax 512-892-4448 /

Holistic Management Course Series Central Community College Hastings, NE Introduction to Holistic Management

Holistic Grazing Planning March 5-7, 2015 Instructor Ralph Tate $350 (includes Grazing Planning Software)

Canadian Holistic Management for Non-Brittle Environments Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes

Holistic Financial Planning

Holistic Biological Monitoring

January 30-31, 2015 Instructor Ralph Tate $250 (includes Financial Planning Software)

June 2015 (Date TBD) Instructor Paul Swanson $100 (1-day course)

Tony McQuail HMI Certified Educator Contact now for upcoming courses in the fall of 2014 and winter 2015 519-528-2493 Lucknow, ON

December 11-12 2014 Instructor Paul Swanson $250 (includes Holistic Management Handbook)

For more information and to registration contact:

Bob Shields 308.379.1361 $100 deposit required for each class

Number 157



a publication of Holistic Management International 5941 Jefferson St. NE, Suite B Albuquerque, NM 87109 USA return service requested

please send address corrections before moving so that we do not incur unnecessary postal fees

Holistic Management Mail Order Emporium

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Books and Multimedia

___ Grazing Planning Software (single-user license) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $100 ___ Upgrade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . electronic $30, hardcopy $45

Pocket Cards

___ Holistic Management® Framework and Testing Questions, March 2000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4

Planning and Monitoring Guides

___ Introduction to Holistic Management, August 2012, 128 pages . . . . $25 ___ Holistic Financial Planning, August 2012, 58 pages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $17

___ Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision-Making, Second Edition, by Allan Savory with Jody Butterfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $60 ___ Spanish Version (soft). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $40 ___ Holistic Management Handbook, by Butterfield, Bingham, Savory. . . $40 ___ At Home With Holistic Management, by Ann Adams . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20 ___ Holistic Management: A New Environmental Intelligence . . . . . . . . $10 ___ How to Not Grow Broke Ranching by Walt Davis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $30 ___ Video: Creating a Sustainable Civilization—An Introduction to Holistic Decision-Making, based on a lecture given by Allan Savory (DVD) . . . $30 ___ Spanish Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $30 ___ Stockmanship, by Steve Cote. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $35 ___ Comeback Farms, by Greg Judy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $32 ___ The Oglin, by Dick Richardson & Rio de la Vista . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15 ___ Gardeners of Eden, by Dan Dagget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $25 ___ Video: Healing the Land Through Multi-Species Grazing (DVD) . . . $30 ___ PBS Video: The First Millimeter: Healing the Earth (DVD) . . . . . . . . $25 ___ The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook by Richard Wiswall . . $34.95 ___ How Stella Saved the Farm, by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $19.99 ___ The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15



___ Holistic Grazing Planning, August 2012, 63 pages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $17

___ Holistic Biological Monitoring—Croplands August 2012, 26 pages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15

___ Holistic Biological Monitoring— Rangelands and Grasslands, August 2012, 59 pages . . . . . . . . . . . . $17

___ Holistic Land Planning, August 2012, 31 pages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15

Planning Forms

___ Annual Income & Expense Plan, padded, 25 sheets/pad . . . . . . . . . . $17

___ Worksheet, padded, 25 sheets/pad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $7

___ Livestock Production Worksheet, padded, 25 sheets/pad . . . . . . . . . $17

___ Grazing Plan & Control Chart, padded, 25 sheets/pad . . . . . . . . . . . . $17

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Profile for HMI - Holistic Management International

#157, In Practice, September/October 2014  

#157, In Practice, September/October 2014  

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