We know that the main determinant of profitability for a ranch is the number of productive animals we can carry at a low cost per year.
And we know that the main constraint to a very high stocking rate is the Winter or dry season. The number of animals we can maintain in good body condition at a low cost in the Winter or dry season determines our stocking rate. Normally, in our green season we have forage excess!
By doing Total Grazing with adapted genetics, we can, and should have our cow's fat in the green season and in good condition in the Winter/dry season. The way to achieve this is to only graze the section or paddocks that our cows can keep up with in the green growing season and stockpiling the rest. Then we keep grazing the green season area until growth stops, and we finish off this area. Then we go to the stockpiled area and do Total grazing there!
By adapted genetics I mean cattle that have the resistance and adaptation to:
Watch the video above for the full interview with Ryan Boyd from South Glanton Farms in Manitoba, Canada or read the transcript highlights below:
Question 1 - Years in Total Grazing vs Selective Grazing
[2:26] Jim: How many years have you been doing Total Grazing vs Selective Grazing?
[3:02] Ryan: We've been selective rotationally grazing for 15 years now so it has been about one year since we really started Total Grazing. It took seeing it, witnessing it in person at your experienced ranch there [Florida] to really for the light bulb to go on and really show us the potential. So when we came home we started in the Total Grazing. We were totally believers after trying it for one summer. We would never switch back now. We still have a lot to learn but it's so much potential with Total Grazing.
Question 2 - Nuffield scholarship. Total Grazing vs other grazing operations
[3:45] Jim: I remember you visited me on February of 2020 and then you left on a Nuffield...
1.- Conventional genetics have been selected under very high input situation where the goal is maximum production and animals are fed to potential. This means that when in a real ranch situation at very high stocking rates they would require so much supplement to remain in good body condition that it would be uneconomical. Besides, they would only harvest around 60% of available forage per graze cycle without losing body condition, even with protein supplement, compared to around 85% achieved with adapted animals selected correctly. These differences can be what separates a profitable appreciating ranch from a losing money degrading ranch.
2.- At very high stocking rates individual animals cannot select the best parts and move on to a new paddock as that would become overgrazing, re grazing the same plant before it has fully recovered its energy reserves. This means your cattle require nutritional adaptation to maintain good body condition at very high...
While EPDs can be used in some instances, trying to achieve maximum in any trait will not help but hinder reaching our goal of maximum profitability.
As we know now, too much milk goes against reproduction or on the ranch fertility, too large a frame goes against practical fertility and conversion efficiency by reducing relative intake which is defined as the amount of grass a cow can consume per hundred pounds of weight.
The most important trait in a cow is her ability to wean a good calf every year, to do this she needs to be in top body condition with smaller frame animals the ones with best body condition, all other factors being equal. Observe your herd of cows at same reproductive stage and age, and you will find out this is true as a rule with very few exceptions.
A larger framed animal results from chasing high daily gain, high weaning weight, maximum yearling weight, as the larger frame animal will win in those categories. These larger frame animals also mean...
When we calculate whole ranch profits at the end of the year it is clear, that the number of pounds of weaned calves sold is more important than selling fewer pounds in the form of higher weight individuals like heavy weaning weights.
To achieve heavy individual weaning weights, we need to use high input genetics with high milk production and those genetics are usually larger frame animals. We need to ask ourselves: do I want maximum profits while improving my soil and my life? Or do I prefer bragging rights?
A good comparison would be to consider a corn grower. Does he/she select and manage for large corn ears, or for higher profitability? Is individual corn ear size the determinant of profitability? Or is total production less the total expenses more important?
The same happens when selecting for heavier weaning weights/higher milk producing cows. They need a very different selection criteria and management than a maximum profitability ranch requires.
There are many aspects and ways that genetics play a determinant role in our profitability and improving our land.
Some genetics, especially those that are high production/high inputs, do not help to regenerate our soils and certainly go against maximum productivity per ranch or farm.
Those high input/maintenance genetics require total parasite control, energy feeds, selective grazing, pampering, and result in high individual animal performance but low profitability per acre/hectare or whole ranch. They also degrade the land by forcing us to do those practices to keep them productive.
When we have adapted genetics selected for maximum profitability per acre/hectare while improving our land the fastest we, and our animals, are much more comfortable and in tune with our goals, we then can bring harmony to our land and lives.
What is needed on the part of our animals?
1.- Climatic adaptation
2.- Nutritional adaptation
3.- Easy keeping/ability to fatten