Country Natural Beef's Grazewell principles
by Jack Southworth
The following principles are an affirmation of what the members of Country Natural Beef strive for in the management of their resources.
- We believe good management is goal driven. Each member of Country Natural Beef has a written set of goals that describes the desired health and appearance of the land they manage and live on; the desired products they hope to derive from the land, their livestock and themselves; and the type of lives they wish to lead. In addition the members describe the actions they are taking to achieve these goals.
- Water is our most limiting natural resource. We manage the land to get the precipitation we receive into the soil that it falls upon and make it available for plant growth for as long as possible. To achieve this we strive for a dense stand of perennial plants with the spaces between plants occupied by decaying litter. When water enters streams we want the streams to flow year-round and have a minimum of sediment in them. We want the streams to be lined with shrubby vegetation.
- Grazing by our livestock during the times of year when grass plants are growing is done in a manner that minimizes the rebiting of plants after they have been grazed and maximizes the time of rest between grazings. On our nonirrigated rangelands we minimize the amount of time we are in a particular area when plants are growing. Once cattle leave an area they have grazed we maximize the period of time before they return. In areas where rebiting of growing plants does occur, we defer those areas from grazing during the next growing season. When plants are growing we leave enough vegetation behind that the plant has photosynthetic area with which to regrow.
- We recognize that truly healthy and productive land is biologically diverse. We prefer a diversity of grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees over monoculture. Rodents, insects, birds, predators, and other grazing animals all have their role in a healthy ecosystem. We adapt our management to fit our individual environments rather than fitting the environment to our management. Grazings are planned in advance to coordinate livestock presence and forage removal with watershed, wildlife, and human needs.
- Our land-management decisions are based on the long-term health and productivity of the land rather than the maximization of short-term gain. In order to make sound decisions we make sure our decisions are in accord with our long-term ranch plans and that they are economically, ecologically, and environmentally sound.
- By grazing livestock on land that is ecologically healthy and in a manner that is compatible with the environment, we rarely have the need for antibiotic treatment and eliminate the use of growth hormones and feed additive antibiotics. Routine immunizations and sound management are all our cattle require to flourish.
- By grazing well we hope to benefit not only the land and our families but our society as well. We want our final product to be good food at a reasonable price that is an integral part of a healthy diet. We want our customers to know that their purchases are helping the land as well as people.