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Meet the National Grazing Lands Coalition!
The National Steering Committee is excited to announce a name change for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. Effective September 7th, 2013, the former GLCI is now the National Grazing Lands Coalition. As you can see we are rolling out a brand new eNewsletter. Starting with the November - December 2013 issue, the Grazing Lands News will be electronic only. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who is interested. Signing up online is easy, simply click on the "Subscribe to Grazing Lands News" link at the top of the page.

We hope you like and enjoy the new online newsletter!


When the rain comes, will your soil be ready?
Management of grasslands is paramount to the health of our soil and water resources. Recently, conservationists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Dakota have been studying the effects that management has on soil properties, such as infiltration, and the results are dramatic. Studies like these show that infiltration is significantly impacted by the management practices being implemented on the land. View a video demonstrating infiltration on grasslands with different conditions and diversity here:
Many farms open their gates to the public for fruit and vegetable picking, hayrides, corn or haybale mazes, petting zoos, horseback riding, wagon rides, guided tours, birding, bicycling, and farm or ranch vacations. If agritourism is something you’re considering as a means to add extra income for your farm or ranch a website listing several resources can be found at:
November - December, 2013
Volume 18, Issue 6
Learning from Each Other
Stewardship practices that have helped others manage resources successfully
Using Less Resources
Beef industry study reveals improvements in sustainability
New Apps for Horses
One calculates hay costs, the other body weight
Graze More, Feed Less
Tips for stockpiling pastures
Learning from Each Other

Grazing management is often trial and error – and learning from the successful efforts of others. Here we highlight some of the stewardship practices employed by past Leopold Conservation Award Honorees.

Aldo Leopold is considered by many to have been the most influential conservation thinker of the 20th century. His interests spanned the disciplines of forestry, wildlife management, conservation biology, sustainable agriculture, restoration ecology and private land management.

In A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949 a year after his death, Leopold set forth his most enduring idea, the “land ethic,” a moral responsibility of humans to the natural world. Today, the Sand County Foundation continues to carry forth Leopold’s legacy for private landowner conservation leadership through several programs including the Leopold Conservation Award. The award includes $10,000 and a Leopold crystal presented to honorees and is designed to showcase outstanding stewardship being practiced by exemplary landowners who make measurable, lasting enhancements to the land, water, and wildlife in their care. Currently, the states of California, Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin select annual honorees for the program. Here, we highlight some of the stewardship practices that have been important to their efforts:

Rotational grazing management has been utilized for more than 30 years by the Mathewson family who ranch near Potter in western Nebraska. Rodney Mathewson started the operation in the 1940’s. Today, his son, Randy, and grandson, Beau, run the ranch with their wives, Gina and Kahla, respectively. Even with rotational grazing, pastures receive a full season of rest every three or four years to maintain grazing quality. Beau Mathewson has also implemented a monitoring program by recording photo points, forage composition and measurement records for 19 sites tracked with GPS on the ranch. Noxious and invasive weed management is also a high priority, with an annual scouting program and infested areas tracked using GPS.
- 2011 Nebraska Honoree

In Colorado, Russell and Tricia Davis’ Wineinger-Davis Ranch was established in 1938. The ranch successfully integrates the needs of a successful and productive beef operation, as well as the habitat needs of several shortgrass prairie wildlife species. Among their conservation achievements, in 2004, Russell and Tricia placed perpetual conservation easements on the ranch through the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Colorado Species Conservation partnership program. This easement protects 12,245 acres of intact native shortgrass prairie and riparian ecosystems, while continuing to allow managed livestock grazing.
- 2012 Colorado Honoree

The Heaton Ranch, located in Alton, Utah, is family owned and operated by Karl and Raymond Heaton – first cousins. The ranch’s 140,000+ private and federal acres supports abundant wildlife populations – including sage grouse and trophy mule deer – and 1,250 head of cattle. The Heaton’s proactively implement restoration activities on their land, including irrigation and livestock water development, fencing, grazing management, pinion/juniper and shrub removal, reseeding and more. But they’ve also reached out to share their ranch with the public. The family operates an outfitting business and takes “dudes” along with them on their cattle drives, to give those unfamiliar with agriculture a taste of what it takes to raise cattle as well as the care the animals receive. Each fall, the ranchers trail cattle 100 miles to the south and graze on winter forage on the Arizona Strip – the area of land north of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon in Arizona. Karl Heaton says,“They’d like to put summer homes out here, but we’re maintaining open spaces. We’re an agriculture ranch and that’s how we want to keep it.”
- 2012 Utah Honoree

In Texas, Gary and Sue Price’s 1,900 acre 77 Ranch is operated to be both economically and environmentally sustainable. The Prices do not make a business decision without first considering its environmental impact. A majority of the ranch’s income comes from a cow-calf operation that utilizes an intensive rotational grazing system. Seven large stock ponds provide water for both livestock and waterfowl and are leased annually to fishermen and waterfowl hunters. The 77 Ranch is frequently used as an “Outdoor Classroom” for field days and workshops, which cover topics such as grazing management, utilizing native forages, grassland restoration, and wildlife management. The sessions are taught by professionals from government and non-government organizations with the aim of teaching others about conservation and stewardship.
- 2007 Texas Honoree

Learn more at www.leopoldconservationaward.org

Sustainability of U.S. beef production improving

From News Reports
According to the beef industry’s recently completed life cycle assessment (LCA) project, the sustainability of U.S. beef production improved significantly from 2005 to 2011.

Released during the Cattle Industry Summer Conference held in Denver, Colo., in August, the checkoff-funded assessment took a comprehensive look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of producing beef.

“We examined all the inputs and outputs required to produce a pound of boneless, edible beef,” said Richard Gebhart, a cow/calf producer from Claremore, Okla., who served on the project’s sustainability advisory panel. “The results show that the beef industry is becoming more innovative and efficient while also doing an excellent job of protecting the resources with which they have been entrusted.”

Gebhart said the beef LCA takes into account the entire spectrum of production — from growing the feed through the disposal of consumer packaging. Looking at the 1970s, 2005 and 2011, the assessment gauged present sustainability against eras known for different production practices.

According to Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, director of sustainability for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the assessment found that improvements in land stewardship, irrigation, processing and animal performance have all yielded improvements in the overall sustainability of beef production. “The completion of the LCA project provides the industry, for the first time, with the science-based evidence necessary to lead conversations about the sustainability of beef,” she said.

Notable Numbers From 2005 to 2011, the LCA found that beef producers:

  • Reduced environmental impacts by 7%;
  • Improved overall sustainability by 5%;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2%;
  • Reduced emissions to water by 10%;
  • Decreased water use by 3%, and
  • Reduced resource consumption by 2%.

Stackhouse-Lawson said the assessment was recently certified by the National Standards Foundation, a third-party, not-for-profit organization that provides standards development, product certification, auditing, education and risk management for public health and the environment.

“When we talk about the sustainability of an industry, that’s what it’s all about: getting better over time,” she explained. “As an industry, beef is doing a good job at making progress on the path toward a more sustainable future. The certification of these results confirms that.”

Mobile apps aim to help horse owners

Farmers can better determine how much hay to purchase with new mobile apps, according to the University of Minnesota Extension, which developed the apps. The new tools aim to specifically help horse owners.

“Horse owners are one of the few groups of livestock owners that buy hay by the bale. Buying by the bale can make it difficult to compare prices between and within bale types,” University of Minnesota’s Krishona Martinson says. “A $4 small-square bale that weighs 35 pounds actually costs more per ton than a $5 bale that weighs 50 pounds, for example.”

With the Hay Price Calculator app, horse owners enter bale weight and price to calculate price per ton. Calculations for small square-bales, large square-bales and round-bales can be made, allowing the buyer to purchase the most economical hay. The app will also be useful to determine the price per ton of corn stalks straw and other feed stuffs.

Additionally, the Healthy Horse app helps horse owners and professionals estimate their horse’s body weight. The results can help owners, veterinarians and other equine professionals make decisions if a horse is identified as being ideal, over or underweight. Researchers collected data on nearly 700 horses to develop the app. Both apps are available for iPhones and iPads with Android versions in development.

Extend grazing season, reduce hay feeding

By James Locke, Noble Foundation
In most operations, hay feeding represents a large portion of a cow's annual maintenance cost. The cost of feeding hay includes much more than just the production cost or purchase price of the vhay. The costs of hauling, storage, rings or feeders, feeding, spoilage and feeding waste add significantly to the costs of hay feeding.

Grazing is the most cost-effective way of harvesting forages, so anything that extends the grazing season and reduces hay feeding tends to make good financial sense.

Perhaps the most common method of extending the grazing season is to stockpile forages in selected pastures. Stockpiling forages simply means allowing growth to accumulate during the growing season to be grazed during the winter months. Any forage has the potential to be stockpiled.

Native grasses can make large quantities of fair to low quality stockpiled forage. Since they tend to be lower quality, it is important to test standing forages to determine what supplementation is necessary to meet animal nutrient requirements.

Cease grazing or haying native grasses by early July and allow them to grow until a killing freeze. This will allow them to replenish their carbohydrate reserves.

After the native grasses are dormant, graze them until they reach an approximate 6-inch stubble height. Grazing shorter than the 6-inch stubble height is likely to result in significant crown damage and reduced production the following spring.

Assuming proper stocking rates, good grazing management and favorable weather conditions, stockpiled forages can potentially reduce or even eliminate hay feeding.

Read the full article at: