At Turkey Foot Ranch, our cattle are rotationally grazed on pasture, using organic practices. Raising animals in this fashion requires more knowledge and skill than sending them to a feedlot. In fact, for grass-fed beef to be flavorful and tender, the cattle need to forage on a prairie buffet of many different types of high-quality grasses, clover, alfalfa, and other plants. Grass-based livestock production is inherently sustainable as this production system relies on bio diversity and ecological complexity to maintain production without the use of costly inputs, such as herbicides, non-organic fertilizers, and pesticides. Providing this nutritious diversity requires healthy soil and careful pasture management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth.
This type of farming benefits the environment in several ways:
Significantly Reduces the Use of Fossil Fuel
In our grass-based system, rotational grazing allows the animals to move around the farm in a managed fashion, fertilizing the pastures naturally, so we don’t need commercial fertilizers to grow high-quality grasses. In contrast, corn, other grains, and soybeans grown not only for human consumption, but also for feedlot animals, require great amounts of fossil fuels for planting, tilling, fertilizing, and harvesting annually. Our production system relies on sunshine rather than fossil fuel.
Enhances Soil Quality and Reduces Erosion
As our cattle graze, they spread urine and manure uniformly over the soil along with other decaying organic matter, enriching the land with nutrients and carbon. Also, healthy grass roots retain water and microbes, which help to keep the soil healthy. The pasture grasses form healthy root masses all year long that hold the soil in place, therefore, reducing soil erosion and improving water filtration. In contrast, conventional farming methods to harvest corn, soybeans, and other grains cause soil erosion and are often produced on fragile erosive soils.
Protects the Waterways
Because we don’t use commercial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides or confine our animals in feedlot pens that create huge amounts of manure, we are protecting the waterways from chemical and excessive manure runoff. Our livestock do not have direct access to streams or ponds. We have been recognized as a “Clean Water Neighbor” for our water quality management practices.