Livestock Stories

Rethink grazing practices by gazing first

If you allow animals to graze more than 60% of the plant leaf volume of pasture plants, you’ll stop 80% to 100% of root growth.

If you move grazing animals to the next paddock when 40% to 50% of the total leaf volume of plants is consumed, you will lose only 5% of root growth. Such prescription grazing can help current species thrive.

However, does this common prescription of “take half, leave half” reduce cool-season invasive species like Kentucky bluegrass, smooth brome or crested wheatgrass

A Journey To No-till Cover Crops

If you monitor soil moisture, your journey into less tillage and successful cover crops on soybean and corn acres increases dramatically,” says Austin Carlson, who farms with his dad, Bruce, near Garretson in southeast South Dakota.

The Carlson’s sloping soils, gully and wind erosion led them on a journey to achieve more resilient soils. What pushed them forward was a caring and knowledgeable mentor across the fence and a gully-washer rainstorm.

Let the Cows Feed Themselves

Howling winter winds, driving snow and getting a frozen tractor started to feed cattle takes a daily toll on ranch families. To alleviate some of the stress, more Dakota ranchers today are turning the bales of summer into winter pasture grazing, saving both time and money. In addition, they're improving rangeland soil health and hay production for the future.

"We began bale grazing in 2014, leaving bales in the hayfield and stringing hot wire across the pasture so cattle could graze a week's wo

Building resilient rangeland

Rangeland health, soil health and the economic health of ranchers are one and the same, not mutually exclusive. That’s what James Halverson, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, has learned. Halverson also happens to be a passionate rancher, grazing cattle in the northern foothills of the Black Hills.

Halverson explains his journey from cropland to rangeland — and why he enjoys being a rangeland evangelist. “I feel that rangeland is like a red-headed stepchild that i