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Animal Health Notebook

Here's Part II of my comments on ranch profitability

We have become big spenders but not-so-big producers. The two things together have been disastrous.


I am in the midst of listing and making comments on several factors that are extremely important to ranch profitability.

Somebody once said it is not our stupidity that kills us. It is what we know for a fact that is wrong that does us in. Most of the “routine” I see at most operations is killing them.

In my early childhood I learned to roller skate quite well. It was a necessity since I grew up in a neighborhood of big guys that you kept up with or were trampled. I could do all sorts of stuff quite well on skates with the exception of going backward. The reason was that none of my friends could skate backwards and there was no one to teach us. Truth is that backing up for any length of time makes me dizzy and I don’t do well drunk.

Seems to me in a roundabout way agriculture has worked itself into a similar state of affairs today. Most anywhere you go there is little to zero soil organic matter. Rain is required on a weekly basis. Most crops and plants are low in energy and nutrient density. Floods are a regular event, as are droughts. We have congregated the cattle on concrete, barns, slats, and dirt or mud lots. Animal waste management is a growing concern and huge expense and is fast becoming a big profession.

In the US, topsoil is our number one export at four tons per capita annually. We seem to be working frantically to fill our rivers and lakes with the precious stuff that can help keep us alive and healthy.

A review of the Big Five destroyers of grassland and soil might be in order. If they are new material consider thinking about them when you are out and about. Here is my list:
1. Removal of animals from the land.
2. Tillage – the plow is likely man’s most destructive tool of all time.
3. Grazing that results in partial plant recovery.
4. Repetitive monoculture and bi-culture farming.
5. Fire on a regular basis -- every one to five years.

The great challenge today that cattlemen and land managers face is misinformation and failure to understand how to reverse soil loss and fertility.

There is no tool or system in anyone’s arsenal that will restore our soils like planned, high-density grazing, followed by complete plant recovery. The results are miraculous and fast, and they address and correct health, waste management, drought, floods, compaction, mineralization and quality-of-life issues.

If you are not interested, my question is why not?

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