This month we started a farm email newsletter to keep our customers up to date.  Feel free to subscribe by using the form on our Contact page.

Among other items in this past email newsletter we asked the question, can cows live on grass alone?

Most cattle can live on grass alone, but the challenge is to raise healthy cattle that get to a level of “finish” (fat enough) to harvest and provide a quality eating experienceUltimately it is about YOU, providing YOU our customer, with a healthy product.  Many cattle today are no longer able to do this on grass alone.

Over the past 75 years cattle have been bred and managed to consume high starch (corn/grain) diets.  If you have not yet read Michael Pollan’s NY Times 2002 POWER STEER article, you really ought to take the time to do so.  This is an excellent story/explanation of how conventional beef reaches the supermarket.

grass type bull

BUDDY! Our herd bull thrives on grass. 75% Red Angus and 25% Devon.  100% Pasture Grazed!

In the uphill battle to find grass type cattle to start our herd, here is a review of the path we traveled:

  • Pharo Cattle Company
    • Hearing Kit speak back in 2002 opened my mind to what we now call DS Family Farm.
    • Sign up for Kit Pharo’s newsletter, excellent info!
  • Terry Gompert
    • Past UN-L Extension agent and HMI instructor.
    • Check if any recordings are still available from UN-L in Knox County such as:
      • 2007 Ultra High Stock Density Event
      • 2009 Holistic Grazing Management
  • Stockman Grass Farmer publication
    • Excellent resources, CDs, DVDs, Books.
  • Grassfed Exchange
    • All things GRASSFED.
    • Recordings of their past events are a wealth of information.
  • Hidden Valley Ranches in the Nebraska Sandhills
    • We met Gary and Cathie Morris at the first Grassfed Exchange in 2010.
    • In 2011 we brought 10 heifers and a bull from their Ranch to our farm.
    • Previously Gary and Cathie had worked with grass cattle guru Gerald Fry.
  • In addition we visited and learned from a number of great local farms.
There are a lot of cattle herds in the vast ALL GRASS Nebraska Sandhills, but most of those herds produce cattle that end up in feedlots and finished on corn.  The Devon cattle influence and breeding program that Gary and Cathie implemented provided us with a great starter herd of cattle that thrive, reproduce and finish on an all grass diet.
With that said, here at DS Family Farm we are still learning and improving.
  • We are starting to add cows raised on our farm to the breeding herd.
    • Animals born and raised on our farm will out perform cattle raised elsewhere.
  • Our forages are improving:
    • Cattle were a missing part of our farm.
    • Cattle cycle nutrients, improving the soil and future grass.
    • Improved soil holds more water to grow more grass.
  • All with a goal to improve the level of “finish” on our harvested beef!
    • Our Ultimate Goal, providing a better product for you our customer.

So yes, it is possible for cows to live on grass alone.  Do your research and enjoy the journey!

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