Hello, I am Jim Elizondo from Real Wealth Ranching
Today we will talk about Total grazing and adapted genetics/selection guidelines.
When we start to implement the process of total grazing in your land you may need, for better results, to use adapted genetics with correct selection guidelines. Then, what should we do? Only total grazing? Or at the same time implement adapted genetics with correct selection guidelines?
The good news is that this doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, I want you to consider how this two big subjects' impact or can impact your cattle business. You will come out of this podcast with a decision. Will you implement total grazing and use adapted genetics/correct selection guidelines? Will you only do total grazing? Or maybe a little of both?
I’m going to say up front: to achieve the best results in our ranches/farms it is important to increase our grass production using low-cost biological methods, increase our harvest efficiency to get more cow days per grazing with cattle that are efficient converting your grass to saleable products. There it is, I said it. I firmly believe that these two big factors: total grazing and adapted genetics/correct selection guidelines can help you much more if implemented together in your business. I have seen this in different environments in my client's ranches/farms.
Now, each one implements at his own pace or speed; this is very important as the most important environment to consider is the one between the two ears of the owner!
I have seen ranches/farms where they gradually start the total grazing process and achieve good results from the start. Like other things in life, success is higher when it's totally implemented, but we start as we can. With this, I mean we can start getting good results when we start to implement in stages. The same happens with the genetics/selection where if we start to correctly select our bulls, we will get improvement from the first calves born out of those bulls, improvement and progress can be observed.
Today we are going to talk about how total grazing helps you and your land, a few examples of what cattlemen have achieved with total grazing and adapted genetics with correct selection guidelines, after this I want you to identify what can help you best in your own business. At the end of this episode, you will have a clear idea of the structure you need in terms of implementing a business that is constantly improving.
We don’t need much to research to know that doing total grazing needs a better animal type in respect to genetics and most importantly, selection guidelines used to select your bulls and replacements. Anyway, after years of being a successful cattleman I have seen my students and others structure their ranches in different ways, I will always recommend doing both things at the same time as they complement each other.
First, I want to say, total grazing helps you as it allows higher productivity per acre by improving harvest efficiency, humus creation, stocking rate, and profitability without using high-cost inputs and chemicals. If it’s desired, you can do total grazing without changing genetics or selection guidelines, but results will not be as good due to a higher supplementation cost to obtain high real-life fertility at very high stocking rates with conventional genetics.
I have also seen good results where they do not do total grazing the right way and they rely only in changing genetics and selection guidelines. This can be done in certain environments, not in all, but it makes management easier and minimizes investment.
A word of caution: this takes much longer to improve the land.
I always ask my students: what do you have more? Time? Or money? As things can be done with little money if enough time is available or faster if enough money is available. Therefore, the speed to achieve a result will depend on your decision.
This is what total grazing will allow: more leaves per square yard, ease of mind knowing and observing that your grass and land is improving every year, a grass reserve as stockpile for the difficult times of the year, and better nutrition for your cattle.
And because there is a limit to how much can we improve forage production in a certain time frame, if we only use conventional genetics, there is a limit to the amount of money we can generate. This ceiling is very real. I’m not saying it’s not sustainable, but I want to make it clear. I believe you can achieve a very reasonable goal using only total grazing or only adapted genetics/selection. What I mean is that when you use both at the same time instead of each alone, there is no limit to the improvement to your profitability and to your land.
Okay, now let’s see what can using adapted genetics with correct selection guidelines give you.
Cattle that require less care to be productive, genetics that improve year after year by the application of correct selection guidelines that don’t contradict nature, better productivity per acre, better real-life fertility determined by genetics, better conversion of grass to saleable products, better harvest efficiency thanks to better nutritional adaptation, and finally better profitability.
Another advantage is the impact of this. When you have adapted genetics and well selected animals you can start to sell genetics and that multiplies your profitability. When prospective buyers can observe fat animals, with good muscle mass, without supplementation, at high stocking rates and with good fertility it’s more probable that they will want to buy Bulls and heifers.
When neighbors and other cattlemen to which you start to sell Bulls, semen, heifers become aware of the offspring they get and how easy they can be maintained in good body condition they will want to buy more and that is how you create a name with prestige.
Prestige that many do not have as they have selected their animals for maximum individual performance and not for good inherent body condition and real-life fertility. This will give you the advantage over the vast majority of seedstock producers.
Now let’s see the ways that total grazing and adapted genetics/selection complement each other.
In total grazing we aim for high harvest efficiency of our grass so we can then create more leaf in relation to stems in the regrowth. This is so due to the stem inhibiting the formation of new leaves and because the saliva of the cow inoculates the grazed plant with hormones, vitamins, and other growth factors we don’t yet know the names of, but this action allows the regrowth to grow faster, up to 80% faster and is the main reason I always say: As the cow needs the grass, the grass needs the cow. When you implement, at the same time, total grazing with adapted genetics/selection you ensure that you will obtain the best results without contradicting nature.
Now, I had the experience of having conventional cattle, selected for maximum production per animal, and it wasn’t nice as those animals required extra care and inputs plus low real-life fertility when the extra care and inputs were taken away. As input costs go up in price faster than what we produce the time comes when it is not profitable maintain that type of animal. They were some tough years, but once I started to change genetics and selection y started to improve my cattle and profitability.
Ryan Herman farms in the Iowa Minnesota border, he was doing rotational selective grazing and after 12 years he took another soil sample to see how much organic matter had gone up. To his surprise it did not go up and was the same organic matter level as his neighbor who had been doing conventional set stocking.
He was displeased with this and started doing total grazing after taking my course. Now he has lowered his Winter hay feeding costs by using stockpiled forage for longer and has better forages with more diversity. His costs have gone down, and he is happier observing how his land is improving. Next step for him is to keep improving his genetics as he started with conventional genetics.
In Washington state is Tyler Waddington who started total grazing and adapted genetics getting faster results in terms of higher stocking rates and better genetics that will keep improving his land and in value.
In Chihuahua, there is a ranch that doubled the stocking rate by the second year of applying both these principles and their thinking was: If we do this, we can have the same results as if we bought another ranch plus with lower costs in management and labor. Now they are reaping the benefits of their efforts.
On my family ranch in the hot tropics, they are doing the adapted genetics/selection and the total grazing as adapted to that environment. Results are evident with over double the stocking rate and much less problems with animal health.
Besides, having cattle with good nutritional adaptation, heat/cold resistance, parasite/disease resistance, docile, fertile, reduce problems and it’s easier having a larger number of productive animals in the farm/ranch with good body condition.
Isn’t that what we want? More animals in good body condition, productive without extra inputs, that are not only more efficient in converting forage into saleable products but can also help in conditioning grass to produce more and higher quality forage!
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