Mentors

ADAMS RANCH – Calvin Adams, Barnard, KS Cal and Sue Adams operate a 450 acre grass farm in SE Mitchell County, Kansas (North Central KS). It is about 1/2 native rangeland and 1/2 cool-season introduced grasses. They utilize management intensive grazing on all of our grass. They have custom grazed sale barn stockers for some time now, taking one group from green-up in spring to mid-July and a second group from mid-September to December each year. Cal learned the basics of grazing management at the two Management Intensive Grazing schools taught by Jim Gerrish at the Missouri Forage Systems Research Center. He has attended various local workshops and schools since then including those conducted by the Kansas Society for Range Management and the Kansas Graziers Assoc. The last 10 years Cal has collected data to evaluate annual forage production, species composition and range and pasture trend and health. Analysis of this data provides the basis for many of their management decisions. He actively networks with fellow graziers as a co-founder of our local Smoky Hills Graziers Association and is on the board of directors of the Kansas Graziers Association and Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. Lastly, Cal sits on the NRCS Kansas Technical Committee with active participation in the EQIP subcommittee. In 2009 the Kansas Chapter of Society for Range Management gave Adams Ranch the Excellence in Rangeland Management Award.

 

ALEXANDER RANCH – Ted & Brian Alexander, Sun City, KS The Alexander Ranch of Sun City, Kansas, covers 7,000 acres of Red Hills native grassland and has flourished as a custom-grazing operation for the past 23 years. Often stocking 500-700 cow/calf pairs or 2,500 yearlings, Ted Alexander’s operation runs on a rotational grazing method. When beneficial to the management of the stockpiled forage, cattle are custom grazed during the winter months. Alexander enhanced his operation’s land through use of an extensive prescribed burning regime, developing livestock water sources, improving forage productivity and increasing diversity in native plants and wildlife. Alexander Ranch is home to many wildlife and aquatic species that are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The ranch’s stewardship practices do not go unnoticed; they have received the Society for Range Management’s Excellence in Grazing Management Award, the Kansas Association of Conservation District’s Grasslands Award, the Farmer/Rancher Wildlife Conservationist Award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation, and in 2007 was awarded the Region 7 Environmental Stewardship Award from Dow AgroSciences LLC, NRCS and NCBA.

 

Z BAR RANCH – Keith & Eva Yearout, Barber County, KS The Z Bar is Ted Turner’s 43,000 acre Kansas ranch.  Although it does have some acreage in Comanche County, Kansas and Woods County, Oklahoma, the majority of the roughly 6 mile by 12 mile contiguous ranch is located in SW Barber County, in an area known as the Gyp Hills. As an operating ranch, we are expected to be a profitable enterprise.  The ranch has a bison cow/ calf operation with about 1850 animals on the ranch prior to calving.  This group includes about 1200 mature breeding cows, 102 mature bulls, 100 2 year olds heifers, 385 tagged calves from last year and 44 untagged (young) calves from last year.  The bulk of the herd is kept in one group, although culls and the bulls are separated for a portion of the year. The ranch is divided into 12 primary grazing areas through which the bison are rotated to allow for grass re-growth and rest.  Two of the main water ways (Big Sandy Creek and Salt Fork of the Arkansas) within the ranch have been “fenced out” of the primary pastures for their protection and are grazed occasionally.  Ranch water is provided by a combination of streams, stock ponds, spring developments and wind mills.  We are currently in the process of improving our ranch watering system so that we are better equipped to deal with drought situations. Although the majority of the ranch is native grass pasture, we have about 300 acres of farm land that has been retained as wildlife food plots.  These areas are fenced so that the bison don’t have access to them and contain multiple “strips” planted to a variety of spring and fall crops (millet, milo, oats, alfalfa, etc) that are strictly for the wildlife.  The food plots are provided for Ted’s hunting enjoyment and to support our hunting operation.  Hunts (turkey, deer and bison) are offered by the ranch and Ted comes quail and pheasant hunting on an annual basis.  In addition to the food plot strips, we have installed deer feeders and water guzzlers that are used by a wide variety of wildlife species.  Since the preservation of native, indigenous species is important to Ted, we have an eagle hacking box and have been promoting the growth of several prairie dog towns on the ranch for the possible reintroduction of endangered black-footed ferrets.  The portion of the ranch that is in Oklahoma also has a maternity bat cave where at least four types of bats raise their young annually.  Other wildlife species:  antelope, coyotes, badgers, bob cats, rattle snakes and a wide variety of prairie birds can also be found on the ranch. Although working on the Z Bar provides a varied and ever changing list of things to be done:  mowing and maintaining the Aetna cemetery and ranch houses, assisting neighbors with prescribed burns, working bison, planting food plots and mowing and feeding trail roads; our primary goal is unchanged, we strive to be good stewards of the land and good neighbors.

 

TIPPET-MYERS RANCH, Lewellen, NE The Tippetts-Myers Ranch is over 100 years old and spans between Ashby, Arthur, and Lewellen in the Sandhills of Nebraska. On average, this cow-calf operation runs between 700-800 Hereford-based females that are owned and also does custom grazing of additional cows and yearlings. The Tippetts-Myers operation uses a well-planned rotational grazing program that includes an extensive cross fencing and watering system.  Windmills, solar pumps, and miles of pipeline have all been used to provide an abundance of water to the ranch. With the use of a thorough grazing and drought management plan, the ranch is able to defer grazing on every pasture every third year.  The Tippetts-Myers philosophy is to leave pastures, rented or not, in better condition than they found them in, resulting in several long-term leases.

 

PETERSON RANCH, Newtown, MO Peterson Ranch is a diversified crop and livestock operation near Newtown in northern Missouri. Today they operate a cow/calf and contract grazing operation. Currently they run about 500 cows. They utilize Management-Intensive Grazing and Holistic High Density Grazing to improve soil health, eliminate the need for most purchased fertilizer and limit hay needs to about one bale per cow per winter. Ranch owner Doug Peterson has been an NRCS employee for over 25 years. He started his career as a soil scientist. He has been a District Conservationist in both a grassland based county in south Missouri and a large cropland county in north Missouri. Currently he is the State Soil Health Conservationist teaching staff and producers around the state about soil health, how it impacts virtually all natural resource processes, and what type of management it will take to effectively improve our soils health. Peterson Ranch utilizes smaller-framed cows that are Angus x Red Angus cross.  They feel the red coat of their cows better tolerate the Missouri summers. They buy their seedstock from Pharo Cattle Company out of Cheyenne Wells, Colo.  They market a portion of their cattle as grass-fed, and others are earning premiums when sold as feeder cattle into the niche “all-natural” market.

 

FERELL RANCH / 4L GRAZING, Beaumont, KS 4L Grazing, LLC is an 8,000-acre fourth generation cow/calf and custom grazing operation in the southern Flint Hills, 5 miles south of Beaumont, KS. They maintain a herd of approximately 300 beef cows and take in around 2000 steers each summer for a 90-100 day season. 4L also sells finished grass fed beef raised from their cowherd. The ranch utilizes an intensive grazing system where cattle are moved to fresh pasture every day during the growing season and periodically through the winter. They strive to maintain the tallgrass prairie as a functioning ecosystem of diverse flora and fauna through the application of land management tools, including the use of patch-burn grazing, mob-grazing, and development of wildlife habitat. In 1995, owner Pete Ferrell cultivated the process that resulted in the construction of the second commercial-scale wind farm built in Kansas. After becoming educated about the challenges of wind farm development, Pete’s persistence paid off with the completion of the 150- megawatt Elk River Wind Farm south of Beaumont, Kansas. When it was commissioned in 2005, Elk River was the largest wind farm in the state.

 

HERITAGE CATTLE CO., Ada, KS HCC / North Star Ranch is a fifth generation family ranching operation in north central Kansas.  They run a Red Angus-based commercial cowherd along with stocker and backgrounding enterprises. The ranch is comprised primarily of native grasslands in western Ottawa and northwest Saline counties.  In the last few years, HCC has converted expired CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) grass to grazing land and is in the process of improving and adding to these acres.  They also utilize several paddocks of smooth brome for late season and early spring grazing and/or haying. HCC strives to be an exemplary steward of the land.  They work hard to control invasive weed species and have an extensive tree and brush eradication program.  The ranch uses prescribed fire as an effective and inexpensive way to control problem plant species, improve grass vigor, and increase performance of their cattle.  North Star Ranch has been awarded the Grassland Award by the Ottawa County Conservation District and the owners are regularly involved with several of the statewide grazing organizations.