Tag Archives: beef

Profitable Ranch Strategies

Although Jim’s article in On Pasture is specifically geared towards livestock/pasture management, the principles can easily be applied to any business.

 

Kick the Hay Habit – Jim Gerrish’s Tips for Getting Started

By   /  September 17, 2018  /  No Comments

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This week’s Classic by NatGLC is from Jim Gerrish. Jim will be speaking about Grazing Lands Economics at the National Grazing Lands Conference in Reno in December, so we thought you’d like to have an idea of what he might cover. Jim is one of over over 50 producers who will be part of the conference talking about innovative grazing management. We hope you’ll join us! Register before October 16 to get the reduced rate of $395, and bring a friend or spouse with you for just $175 more.

Hay feeding still ranks as one of the top costs of being in the cow-calf business in the U.S. The good news is we do see more and more livestock producers ‘Kicking the Hay Habit’ with each passing year. There is much more to kicking the habit than just deciding one day that you’re not going to feed any more hay. It usually takes several management changes to get there.

Here are what I am seeing as the top five moves for getting out of the hay feeding rut.

1. Have a plan for year-around grazing.

This doesn’t mean just hoping you have some grass left over in the fall to use during winter. It means making a critical evaluation of all of your forage resources and mapping out when they can be used most optimally. Develop a calendar of when your stock are going to have their highest and lowest demands. As an industry we have given a lot of lip service to matching forage and animal resources, but the majority of ranchers still do a pretty poor job of implementing a sound plan.

2. Change your calving season to a less demanding time of year.

It is much easier to graze a dry, pregnant cow through the winter than a lactating mama. For many of today’s moderate to high milk producing beef cows, daily forage demand at peak lactation is 50-80% higher than when she is at dry, pregnant maintenance. Late spring or early summer calving seasons work well in a lot of ranch country once you change your mind about a few things. I’ve met very few ranchers who switched to later calving who ever went back to winter calving.

3. Make sure your cattle match your environment and climatic conditions.

You really want your cattle to survive and thrive on the native resources of your ranch. The more petroleum and iron you put between the sun’s solar energy and your cow’s belly, the less profitable you are likely to be. Cattle should be able to earn their own living. You shouldn’t have to earn it for them. Consider every head of cattle on your place to be a ranch employee. Your primary job as manager is to create a working environment for your employees to do their job.

4. Manage all of your pasture and rangeland more intensively.

CP snow grazing Oct 26This does not mean graze it more intensively, this means manage it more intensively. If you do, you will get more forage production and greater carrying capacity from your land. Simply rationing out what you are already growing is one of the easiest places to pick up more grazing days from every acre. One of the strongest arguments I can make for Management-intensive Grazing (MiG) in the summertime is to create more winter pasture opportunities.

5. Change range use from summer grazing to winter grazing.

In most environments with degraded rangeland, switching to predominantly winter use is a great strategy for improving range condition. Many public lands offices are very willing to work with ranchers on this kind of positive change. We do see some agency offices and employees who drag their feet on making any kind of change, but most are willing to work with you if you have a grazing plan that will help them meet their conservation goals.

IMG_9954You may not need to make all these changes in your operation. It depends on where you are right now and where you want to end up being. While some operations go cold turkey and try to make the entire shift in a single year, it may be easier to make the transition over 3 or 4 years. You will take some learning and adjustments to get comfortable with the new approach. Your livestock will also need to adapt to the new management regime.

Most beef herds in the US and Canada are made up of cows that are too big and have too much milking ability to live within the resource capability of the land base. Winter grazing is a lot easier with the proper type of cow on your place. Making the switch in calving season might be as easy as just holding the bulls out for a couple extra months. Changing cow type to a more moderate framed and lower milk producing animal will take quite a bit longer.

The key point is to have a plan for making the transition with a clear target of where you want to go.

Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible.

We hope you’ll join the On Pasture crew at this year’s conference in Reno. We love it because there are so many producers sharing their experience from all across the country. We always learn a lot! Remember – registration goes up to $475 on October 16!

 

 

Thanks to the On Pasture readers providing financial support.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Gerrish is the author of “Management-Intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming” and “Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-around Grazing” and is a popular speaker at conferences around the world. His company, American GrazingLands Services LLC is dedicated to improving the health and sustainable productivity of grazing lands around the world through the use of Management-intensive Grazing practices. They work with small farms, large ranches, government agencies and NGO’s to promote economically and environmentally sustainable grazing operations and believe healthy farms and ranches are the basis of healthy communities and healthy consumers. Visit their website to find out more about their consulting services and grazing management tools, including electric fencing, stock water systems, forage seed, and other management tools.

Blessed Beef Broth for what Ails Ya

As followers of my blog realise, I struggle mightily each late August through September with ragweed allergies.  It’s been so since my middle child turned one year old in 1994.  Oddly, of the three children, he is the only one who also suffers badly from same allergy.  I’ve discovered this year that our home raised grassfinished beef broth either drank alone or with finely chopped onions and a pinch of powdered garlic really hits the spot.

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Cook a roast or stew meat or thick cut steak in water  just deep enough to just covering the meat, then remove the meat and any bones with a strainer spoon.  My go-to is this Nesco Roast Air Oven.  I don’t know if these are even made anymore, and i didn’t like the noisy fan and motor.  However, i simply covered the attachment hole in the lid with tape.  Paid $2 for this handy kitchen item at a church bazaar some 10-12 years ago.  Handy, handy, handy.  You can buy new ones in this 6 quart size and others from Nesco without the attachable motor.

 

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Pour the liquid into a pot or jar to cool.  I like using these quart sized freezer jars since i can pour it in piping hot instead of waiting for liquid to cool.  Plus the slim design allows for not taking up much space on the counter whilst cooling and later into the frig.
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Whilst cooling, the saturated fat will rise to the top and eventually harden.  I put mine in the frig once the liquid has come to room temperature.  Once cooled, transfer to a plastic container to freezer or top with the screw lid and stick these jars in the freezer.  Great to thaw and make broth this winter, cook potatoes or pasta in this, or thicken for brown gravy.
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Scrape the hardened fat from the top of the cooled beef liquid.  i place mine in a storage container and stick in the freezer or frig.  Use in place of butter or oil for extra flavour.  Or feed it to the chooks and your pets.  Just please don’t throw it away.

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)

Stuffed Grapevine Leaves

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook recipe by the same name on page 165.

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Place about 1 tablespoon of meat (lamb or beef) mixture on doubled leaves and wrap, place in skillet, seam side down.

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Using my Kitchenaid Mixer,, i whip the eggs and add the organic lemon juice.

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Pour the egg mixture over the stuffed grapevine leaves.

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Here are the alternative meatballs only – better for people who have difficulty chewing.

Grazing Management Primer – Part 3

Pond fenced with poly wire electric fence
Alan Newport
You can save a lot of money on water development by taking cattle to existing water sources with temporary electric fence.

Here’s a primer for managed grazing, Part III

A few more thoughts on grass regrowth, animal production and timing.

Alan Newport | Dec 08, 2017

In the first two stories of this series we covered some terms used in managed grazing, provided their definitions, and explained why the terminology and the ideas they represent matter.

In this third and final article of our managed grazing primer, we’ll cover some important concepts that aren’t based in terminology.

Plants: Taller and deeper is better

Early in the days of managed grazing there was a huge and largely mistaken emphasis on grazing plants in Phase II, or vegetative state.

Pushed to its logical end, this resulted in what then grazing consultant Burt Smith once commented about New Zealanders: “They’re so afraid of Phase III growth they never let their plants get out of Phase I.”

Young forage is high in nitrogen/protein and low in energy, while older forage is higher in energy and better balanced in a ratio of nitrogen/protein, although it has higher indigestible content.

This older attitude foiled the greatest advantages of managed grazing. It never let the plants work with soil life to build soil. It never let the grazier build much forage reserve for winter or for drought.

Last but not least, we were told for years the quality of taller, older forages was so poor that cattle could not perform on it. That is not necessarily true of properly managed, multi-species pasture where soil health is on an increasing plane and cattle are harvesting forage for themselves. It’s all in the management.

Balance animal needs with grass management

One of the most important concepts to managing livestock well on forage is to recognize livestock production and nutritional needs and graze accordingly.

If you have dry cows or are dry wintering cattle, you might ask them to eat more of the plants.

Remember the highest quality in mature, fully recovered forage is near the top of the plants and the outer parts of newer or longer leaves

Again depending on livestock class and forage conditions, an affordable and well-designed supplement program can let you graze more severely, also.

Erratic grazing breeds success

Nature is chaotic and constantly changing, so your grazing management needs to be also.

If you graze the same areas the same way and same time each year, you will develop plants you may not want because they will try to fill the voids you are creating and you may hurt plants you desire because they will become grazed down and weakened, perhaps at critical times.

If you move those grazing times and even change animal densities and perhaps also add other grazing species, you will create more diverse plant life and soil life.

Remember, too, that your livestock don’t need to eat everything in the pasture to do a good job grazing.

Cattle legs are for walking

Water is always a limiting factor for managed graziers, but the low-cost solution in many cases is to make cattle walk back to water.

Certainly you can eat up thousands of dollars of profit by installing excessive water systems and numerous permanent water points.

This can be overcome to some degree with temporary fencing back to water and using existing water sources.

Read Part I or Part II.

Jim Gerrish on Making Change

Another great article by Jim Gerrish, consultant and owner of American Grazing Lands, published in The Stockman Grass Farmer.

Published as “Grassroots of Grazing” Jim’s regular column provides “Making Change is about Creating a New Comfort Zone” in the December 2017 issue which offers his observations about how people in the grazing/farming/ranching world accept or reject change often needed for the business to survive, or more importantly, thrive so that the next generation will be willing to be involved.

His closing comments of the article:  (you’ll have to buy a back issue for Jim’s full article as well as great articles by other authors)

“I had already come to understand people were not going to change just because something made biological and economic sense.  We all have to be comfortable with the idea of change before we will be willing to even consider change no matter how much empirical evidence is thrown at us supporting that change.

For many of us that comfort level is based on acceptance by our family and community.

I have found it is much easier to sell the ideas of MiG (management-intensive grazing), soil health, grassfed beef, summer calving, and a myriad of other atypical management concepts to someone who has no background at all in ranching and no tie to the local community than it is to get someone with 40 years of experience on a family ranch to change.  The lifelong rancher may grudgingly agree that those ideas make sense, but the most common retort is still, “but I can’t see how we can make that work here.”

That individual is absolutely correct, until you can see that it will work here, it probably won’t.  The biggest part of that “will it work here” question is how the rest of the family sees it.  The better a family knows itself, the easier it is for that one rabble-rouse to make a difference.  If the lines of communication are broken, the more likely it is that things will continue to operate the way they always have.

Then we are back to that sad situation so common in multi-generational agriculture:  We advance one funeral at a time.”

Jim Gerrish is an independent grazing lands consultant providing service to farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands across the USA and internationally.  He can be contacted through www.americangrazinglands.com

American Grazing Lands, LLC on Facebook

When to Graze video

 

 

 

Fast Food – Chicken Fried Steak

Oh my goodness – i am such a good cook.  Start with quality ingredients and anyone is a star in the kitchen.  Start to finish – about 35 minutes.  Now, i must get outside or i’ll eat it all!

Today’s lunch:  Chicken Fried Steak  (printable and downloadable recipe)

Chicken fried steak with smashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

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Chicken fried steak (our home raised grass finished round steak beef)

Organic Einkorn ancient grain flour

Olive oil

Sea salt

Organic black pepper

Farm fresh eggs

Milk and butter from local pastured cows

Organic russets from Wal-Mart

Organic broccoli from Wal-Mart

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Cheers!

tauna

 

Bourbon Meatloaf from WSJ

My son was required in one of his classes at uni to take subscription of the Wall Street Journal.  We had taken it for years, but it had gotten so expensive we’d dropped.  However, as a student, he could receive it for $50 a year!

Once in a while a fabulous recipe which meets my criteria is published and i nab it and usually tweak it just a bit. Here’s one i found just last week.

The original version is pictured far below, but here’s what i did:

MEATLOAF INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic

Sauté these in a medium hot skillet with 2 tablespoons butter, then add mushrooms and lettuce until softened – all in all about 6 minutes.  Don’t let it burn!

1 cup diced mushrooms

2 cups snipped fresh spinach

Add these items to the above skillet until softened

2 lbs grass finished ground beef

1 cup finely ground bread crumbs (i used what i had leftover from a failed baking experiment)

2 egg yolks from farm fresh eggs (save the whites for scrambled eggs in the morning)

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brandy (i discovered that brandy is a substitute for bourbon)

2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Mix together, by hand, all these ingredients to make the loaf.

FOR THE GLAZE:

While the meatloaf is cooking, whisk together 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, 2 tablespoons unprocessed organic sugar like Florida Crystals, 1/2 cup ketchup, and 4 tablespoons farm fresh milk in a small bowl.  After meatloaf has baked about 6 minutes, remove it from the oven and brush glaze over top.

Return pan to oven and bake until meat is just cooked through, or internal temperature reads 145-150 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Making a 2-lb loaf, mine cooked for about 30-35 minutes in a 400ºF oven.  Remove  from over and let cool slightly.

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Chopped onion, grass fed butter hasn’t melted yet.
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Home grown garlic

 

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Didn’t have any celery, but spinach is a substitute for just about everything!
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I use scissors to cut the spinach in smaller pieces – add to the onion/garlic mix to saute.
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i keep these mixes in the frig pretty year round unless i happen to grow enough for us to use in the spring and summer.
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Separate the eggs – i keep the whites of course to use for scrambled eggs later.

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Gather it up and roll onto the jellyroll pan.  Mine is 9×15″
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My loaf is far too great a diameter to be finished cooking in 26 minutes, so adjustments are to be expected.  This is using 2 lbs ground beef.
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This is absolutely NOT what the glaze is supposed to look like – i forgot to add the ketchup!  Grrrrrr!
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Without the ketchup the glaze is far too runny…….
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….resulting in this burnt mess on the pan around the loaf.
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My loaf was far greater diameter than the recipe, so i cooked it an extra 15 minutes which was just right.  Also gave opportunity for the glaze i messed up to burn a bit more.  😦

 

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Yup, it’s done.
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Thank you to my sister-in-law, Shawna, for this perfectly sized Pampered Chef mini spatula she gave me for Christmas.
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Restaurant quality meal (except for the glaze i screwed up).  The meatloaf has a delightful texture and flavour.
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Here’s the original recipe by Chef Lee as published in the Wall Street Journal
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This is the whole article with the featured chef.
Salad (1)
These prepared lettuce or spinach mixes in a clam shell container are just the handiest things!
Salad (2)
Shredded Carrots on the salad.  Add whatever you are hungry for – sliced hard cooked eggs, mushrooms, olives, cheese, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

 

Enjoy!

tauna