Ryan and Teresa watch their daughter
Elisa help Kelby carry a goat kid.
To economize, the Fieldgroves also
steadfastly use existing resources.
Their ranch consists entirely of rangeland.
The lack of irrigated meadows
necessitates the purchase of hay when
winter feed is needed. Because of this,
the Fieldgroves graze their cattle yeararound
and calve in April.
“We select for cattle that perform
as range cows,” Ryan explains. “We
raise our own replacement heifers
because they learn the country from
the mother cows. Sometimes Mother
Nature doesn’t cooperate for winter
grazing. Last year the cold winter
worked our cattle too hard, though.”
The Fieldgroves follow a rotational
grazing plan, but don’t adhere to
the intensive grazing model. “We’re
a high-elevation sagebrush steppe
desert,” Ryan says with a nod to the
rolling hills outside the kitchen window.
“Rarely do we receive enough
moisture to green our prairie. The
intensive grazing works better where
there is grass re-growth.”
Ryan also feels that cross fences
for intense rotational grazing is an
unneeded cost. “Cattle can be taught
how to graze a pasture,” he explains.
“For instance, we use a pasture twice.
Once when the grass is growing, and
then again after it’s dormant. This is
because it’s diffi cult to get cattle to
use all the feed at once.” In the spring
and summer, cattle can overgraze
draw bottoms and reservoirs if left
in a pasture too long. To avoid this,
the Fieldgroves graze a pasture briefl y
during the warm months and bring
the cattle back through in the autumn.
“After it cools off,” Ryan says, “cattle
actually want to leave the draws and
reservoirs. When we come back
through in cooler weather, the cattle
willingly graze the outskirts where the
feed is still good. We just rotate cattle
between pastures according to how
they want to use the land. It doesn’t
take a bunch of cross-fence to do it.
Fences and wells are costly. You need to
be careful to not overspend on them.”
Similarly, economics convinced the
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 47