Recently we shared the photo below of a white poly wire portable fence disappearing into a paddock full of 6 foot tall stockpile.  If you were wondering how in the world we get that done, we give some more info here.

Portable poly wire fence strung through stockpiled pasture.

Portable poly wire fence strung through stockpiled pasture.

It is actually fairly simple, we drive our ATV through the grass to push it down and the poly wire unrolls behind the ATV in the wheel track.  The tough part is walking back through the grass to put in our posts.  Watch this process in action, video below:

So how do the cows know the fence is there or even find it?  With 5,000+ volts surging through this wire, our herd takes good care in knowing where this wire is at all times.  This little white wire is not a physical barrier but a mental barrier.  This simple technology (portable poly wire) allows us to:

  • Easily move cattle
  • Maintain frequent moves to fresh forage, cattle are calm
  • Manage forages to very precise areas
  • Time of graze is highly regulated for proper forage recovery

We moved 20 head of cattle into this patch.  The patch was only about 30 feet wide from fence to fence.

Cows grazing, the fence is along the right side of the photo, just behind the yearling looking at the camera.

Cows grazing, the white poly wire fence is along the right side of the photo, just behind the yearling looking at the camera.  Believe us, the cows know exactly where the white wire is at all times.

The results of this paddock move is shown below.  The goal was to stomp most of this grass to the ground as it was next to one of our permanent fence lines.  The permanent fence is along the left side of the photo below.

The paddock after grazing, we just rolled up the white poly wire.

The paddock after grazing, we just rolled up the white poly wire.

As you can see, the portable poly wire fence did it’s job in keeping the herd exactly where we wanted.  The standing stockpile that remains in this paddock will be grazed later this winter.  The herd was on this patch for just under two days and we were glad we had the forage we did as two inches of rain came before and during this move.

Feel free to stop by any time to see the herd in MOO-tion!

Grassfed beef requires grass, we are grass farmers first.  For grass to grow we need water and we will take it in any form; rain, dew, ice and snow.  This time of year we start to think about a few things:

  • What is our current soil moisture levels?
  • Are we ready for snow?

In a previous post from 2014 we wrote about how important soil moisture is at this time of the year.  Soil moisture now, has a big impact on the grass (and beef) we grow next year.  We are going into the 2017 “water year” in good shape.

Are we ready for snow?  This summer we have been “stockpiling” grass in our pastures for the approaching non-growing season.  Do you see a problem in the photo below?

stockpiled pasture grass

Stockpiled grass in our pasture. Think of this as hay we left in the field for our cows to harvest this fall, winter and next spring.

Grass looks good in the photo.  Pasture soils are covered to protect the stored moisture and ready to capture more moisture through the coming months.  The problem?  The photo shows one of our few permanent fence lines (red arrow) that is all grown up in grass.  We construct daily paddocks using electrical poly wire and we count on these few permanent fence lines to supply the power.  The stockpiled grass will accumulate snow and bury this fence line making it unusable.

Cows to the rescue.

cattle grazing fence lines

Cattle preparing our pasture fence lines in anticipation of snow issues this winter.

The photo above shows how we are currently going around all of our permanent fence lines concentrating the herd to stomp down and eat the grass along our fence lines.  The cattle love their work of preparing the fence lines that protect them year round.

preparing fences for winter

The right side of this fence line has been prepared by the herd and they can’t wait to work on the left side of the fence.

Once the cows complete the job, if we do get that big snow storm, our fences will not be buried.  The fence lines will continue to  function, keeping cattle where we plan to move them.

What about the cows and the stockpiled grass if we get lots of snow?  We do have some hay in the barn as “insurance” and to supplement as needed.  In addition, take a look at our previousl post about cattle grazing snow.  Our cows live in our pastures 24/7/365, snow is something they have no problem dealing with.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to see our cattle in motion.  Cattle properly grazing grass is the best way to grow more grass!

Year round grazing on pasture presents some interesting situations for us grass farmers.  In this past post from July 2015 we demonstrated the results of planned animal impact on a wetland site heavily used through the non-growing season.  Below we show what we had to deal with this past spring when Mother Nature gave us a wet spell.  Here we show the results we see in our pasture now.

Background information for sites shown below:

  1. We know April – early May can be wet, we planned to be here!
  2. This site had about a year of rest since the last graze.
  3. This site needed some animal impact!

The red arrows identify the same objects in the photos from different dates.

Animal impact following spring rain event 2016.

  • After moving them into this patch we obviously had a significant rain event.
  • Before moving into the next patch, we achieved significant animal impact.
  • Cattle are happily grazing on fresh/clean pasture.

What this site looks like now.  You can barely see the nearest rock!

Follow up site visit for animal impact 2016 fall.

  • Our future plan for this site is to avoid the next wet season.
  • Will graze this fall or winter and feed some hay on the site most likely.
  • We will utilize the cattle to lay the large grass stems on the ground.

Below are two more photos of a site nearby.  More severe impact as a result of the prolonged wet period we experienced this spring.

Animal impact following spring rain event 2016.

  • Almost looks like a tilled field!
    • “Cow Tilled”
    • Site absorbed a significant amount of kinetic energy.
      • Hooves and Raindrop energy impact.
  • Remember, this site had heavy sod from brome and native grasses.

Energy into the site released a significant amount of energy through grass growth over the past four and a half months!

Follow up site visit for animal impact 2016 fall.

  • The reason for the selfie?
    • I am six feet tall, some big bluestem seed heads are over my head!
  • This tall rank (lignified) grass will not make good cow food.
    • We will use cows to pick out what they want and;
    • Stomp the grass stems to the ground
      • This is how we add CARBON to the soil.
      • Grass stems stomped on the soil feeds our soil livestock (microbes).
      • We should grow even more grass here next year.

What a wonderful cycle.  Are you worried about too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?  This is how we use cattle to cycle carbon from the atmosphere into grass.  Some carbon is quickly returned to the air, but a significant amount of carbon is transferred into the soil.  Once in the soil we have a great chance of getting the carbon into a stable form (humus).  The more carbon we can extract from the air and put into our soil the more grass we can grow to extract even more carbon!

The best part about this cycle is that cows produce calves while they are doing this work.  Every once and awhile we take a grown calf (steer or heifer) to the butcher.  This gives you the opportunity to participate in the healing of our environment.  Just eat some grassfed beef and support our work and other grass farmers like us.

Here is our line up for 2016 Pasture Grazed Steers.  These are mature pasture grazed beef!

The steers pictured below:

  • Are over two years old (older animals mean more flavor).
  • Have never stood on concrete.
  • Spent everyday of their life in pasture.
    • Never confined to a dirt/mud/manure lot.
    • Never grazed in cropland or crop residue.
  • Have been in the same herd and at their mothers side since birth.
  • Only consumed forages, never fed grains.
  • Never given an antibiotic or artificial growth hormones.
  • Lived under the sun by day and stars by night, never in a building.
  • Will be harvested off actively growing green forage.
  • All forages consumed are Non-GMO.
  • Are Animal Welfare Approved
  • Certified Grassfed.

Contact us if you would like to try some real beef!

2016 grassfed pasture grazed steer2016 grassfed pasture grazed steer2016 grassfed pasture grazed steer2016 grassfed pasture grazed steer2016 grassfed pasture grazed steer

Notice the horizontal lines along the belly in some of the above photos.  These lines are called “Happy Lines”.  Happy lines indicate good fat cover and Happy Beef!  Based on last years harvested steers, the meat from these steers should have an excellent fatty acid profile!  The Omega 6 to 3 Ratio should be excellent.  The CLA content of beef is a result of consuming actively growing green forages at the time of harvest.  The forages in our pasture this year are excellent.

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to raise these animals.  Please pray that the harvest and processing of these animals will go well and that they will provide health to those who consume their meat.

Maybe you have heard of the “Know your farmer, know your food” movement.  In the consumer – farmer connection YOU are the best inspector to find out how your food is raised.  We have an “open door” policy here at the farm.  Visitors are always welcome to contact us for a visit.  Come see first hand how animals can be successfully raised on pasture alone to the benefit of all.

  • YOU are WHY we do what we do!
  • YOU are the one making change.
  • YOU deserve to see how your food is raised.
  • YOU are on a mission and we are glad to help.

We have added another layer of inspection at DS Family Farm for YOU the consumer.  For those who may not understand animal husbandry and exactly what it takes to be grassfed, you can now feel confident of DS Family Farm products.  We have completed the process to be certified by the folks at Animal Welfare Approved.

AWA and Grassfed Certified

DS Family Farm appreciates the work being done by Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and are happy to announce that our farm is now part of the AWA family.

This certification program insures YOU:

  1. Animals raised and cared for based on science and timeless husbandry methods.
  2. Tracking animal welfare from birth to harvest.
  3. The term “Grassfed” is defined, Certified Grassfed by AGW means something.

We will continue to promote the term “Pasture Grazed” since our animals live their entire lives on pasture.  Now YOU can rest assured that we do meet a certification standard for grassfed.  Do you want to see what we are talking about?  Please contact us for a farm visit.  Here are some families that have recently visited the farm (photo page):

  • The Spangler Family from Seward
  • The Derbish Family from Omaha
  • The Jay Family from Gretna

Feel free to stop by anytime.  Contacting us ahead of time will ensure someone is around to answer your questions.

(note – links to AWA and Certified Grassfed within this post were updated 2/20/17)