By Loretta Sorensen
Dominic and Trista Harmon, of White Thunder Organics Ranch, Wood, S.D., know the power of rotational grazing.
The couple has revitalized 2,000 acres that lies along the White River with rotational grazing and are producing 100% grass-fed certified organic Tar-Angus beef, certified organic free-range Berkshire Pork and natural, grass-fed lamb.
The Harmons use a network of 20 small pastures that average 80 acres each to graze their cattle. Cattle are moved through the pasture on a twice-over rotation, meaning the cattle visit each pasture twice each year and remain in each pasture for an average of four days per rotation, a total of eight days per pasture per year.
Each paddock/pasture has a tire-tank trough with water piped to it from an artesian well. The watering system helps keep grazing more evenly distributed throughout the grazing areas. They also have water access points in their fields with portable automatic frost-free watering systems that we transport with the cattle through the fields.
The Harmons' cattle winter in some of the fields where crops are raised, rotating through the fields over several winters.
"That allows us to get hay to the cattle and keep nutrients on the cropland," Dominic says. "It also keeps cattle off the grass in paddocks during the vulnerable spring growth period before the plant has produced its third leaf."