Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Value of Holistic Herding

Many people look at what I am doing with holistic herding don't see the value. The first misconception that most people have is that, on their ranch, it would be impossible to do. The owners of the cattle I am currently herding once thought that as well. I first presented the idea of combining their cattle into one herd five and keep them moving years ago. Their reaction was "It is impossible to do" in this area. Now that they have been forced by drought (less than 10 inches total over three years) to lease pasture and have their cattle herded on the Circle Ranch  they are totally sold on the idea.

The benefits of holistic herding are:
  1. You know where your cattle are 
  2. You know what the condition of your cattle are
  3. You can gather your cattle in one day, without hiring day help
  4. Cattle actually do better in a herd situations than in small groups
  5. Take advantage of grazing areas cattle don't normally graze
  6. Concentrating the cattle and moving them concentrates manure and herd effect, which in turn helps build soil and increases both the amount and diversity of forage while improving hydrology of the land
  7. By increasing forage and areas you can graze increases your ability to either run more cattle or lease grass for yearlings.
  8. Reduces the amount of infrastructure to maintain in order to keep the cattle watered
  9. Reduces overall fuel, maintenance and labor costs.
  10. Reduces the amount of water needed

 Numbers eight and nine are hard for people to wrap their minds their minds around. Using the Circle ranch as an example, this is easy to explain. There are an average of five water points per pasture. In a herding situation, it is possible (and preferable) to water the herd at a single water point. By placing a single water point with covered storage in each pasture the Circle ranch would reduce the amount of driving to check water by as much as 80% (The costs implementing this could be offset by selling your now defunct drinkers)

How can it reduce the amount of water you need? A five foot diameter drinker has an annual evaporation rate of 750 gallons per drinker meaning that each of the pastures would require 3,000 less water per year or 51,000 gallons less water for the whole year (not counting the 1,000,000 lost in evaporation in the existing uncovered storage tanks ). How much would this reduce your ranch's electric and fuel bills in a year?

Once a person get past the excuse of not being able to herd holistically, there is no reason not to do it.

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