Beef Buzz News
Gerrish Matches Cattle with Range Resources
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:14:01 CDT
Jim Gerrish is a cattle producer from Idaho and he is known nationally for cell grazing and for the idea of running cattle without feeding them much, if any hay. Gerrish grew up a crop farmer, so when he was first introduced to the idea of cell grazing in the 1970's, it just made biological and financial sense to him. Gerrish doesn't like to put up hay, as he would rather let his cattle harvest their own feed year around. Gerrish lived in Missouri for 23 years, before moving to Idaho 11 years ago. When he started out in Missouri, he had a very conventional cow-calf operation that calved in February and March and they made and fed a lot of hay. By the time he left Missouri, they were calving in April and May and they fed very little hay. If they needed hay, they purchased it to limit equipment and maintenance costs. Along the way, he realized a key lesson.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Jim Gerrish at the Oklahoma No-Till Conference
"If you are in the cow-calf business, you should stock your ranch to your winter grazing capacity, not your summer grazing capacity," Gerrish said. "So, we changed from being strictly a cow-calf operation to being a mixed cow-calf and custom grazed enterprise, so we brought in a lot more stock April through July and early August to utilize the spring flush of growth and then when those animals left we stockpiled those acres for our winter cow feed."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Jim Gerrish at the recent Oklahoma No-Till Conference last week. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to this Beef Buzz feature.
Gerrish custom grazed beef stockers, replacement heifers, dry beef cows and cow-calf pairs. He said they didn't get locked into believing that stockers was their only option and they found they could make more money on other classes of cattle, then if they were grazing strictly stockers. He said this allowed them to increase their stocking rate without a cash expense in purchasing livestock.
"To effectively manage pasture, you have to get that stocking rate in sync with what your carrying capacity actually is," Gerrish said.
Since the late 1980's, Gerrish has been doing daily rotations with cell grazing. This came out of necessity because of the 1988 drought in Missouri. Gerrish said they started doing daily rotations as a way to stretch the feed supply and it worked so well that they continue to use the concept today. He calls the whole process management intensive grazing, because it's the management that is being intensified, not the grazing.
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