The ABCs of streambank grazing

Ralph Lentz promotes the benefits of mixing cows and creeks

Lake City, Minnesota — To Ralph Lentz, the answer to the question of whether stream banks should be grazed is as simple as A-B-C.

In Ralph’s case, the cliché is literally true, and plain as day. Over the years he has divided his farm’s stretch of Sugarloaf Creek into three distinct sections that have become famous within the Upper Midwest’s soil and water conservation community as “A, B, and C.”

“C,” the furthest downstream, was fenced off and planted to several hundred trees in 1967 as part of an approved Soil Conservation Service (now National Resources Conservation Service) conservation plan that was supposed to be expanded to the entire one-third mile length of this streamside property. Continue reading “The ABCs of streambank grazing”

Intake more important than quality

And other thoughts from 20 years of grazing research

Jim Gerrish has learned a thing or two about grazing during some 20 years of poking around pastures.

For many years Gerrish has been the lead researcher at the University of Missouri’s Forage Systems Research Center at Linneus, which is generally recognized as the premier grazing research facility in the Midwest, if not the entire U.S. The FSRC has run a large number of trials attempting to measure forage and beef cattle performance—and how they interrelate—within a wide variety of grazing systems. Gerrish and his family also graze beef stockers and run a cow-calf operation on 260 acres in northern Missouri. Continue reading “Intake more important than quality”

The art of grazing

No one produces milk cheaper and easier than Art Thicke. No one ignores grazing fads more than Art Thicke. Is there a link here?

Art Thicke believes that too many graziers have lost sight of what really makes grazing work

La Crescent, Minnesota — How does any grazier — especially that segment with “what works” and “what doesn’t” cemented firmly into his or her mind — deal with the success that is Art Thicke?

Though you may or may not buy all or even very much of it, the grazing success formulas are out there for all to see. Plant the latest and greatest. Fertilize it heavily. Graze it every couple of weeks. Build a parlor and milk a lot of cows per labor unit. Go to a mixed ration, and shoot for high per-cow production. Or, if you don’t like that stuff, make up for your so-called “backward” production ideas by gaining a higher price through organic certification and/or direct marketing. Continue reading “The art of grazing”