|Type||CEC-support Ranch Pilot|
|Organization||Circle H Farms|
|# of head of cattle||34 cows – 32 calves|
|Date modified||August 2015|
Circle H Farms, located in Brandon, Manitoba, is a working cattle operation. The owner-operator, Brian Harper, is a conservation leader in the community and conducts tours on his operation for other producers, demonstrating the various management approaches he has applied to his land. He is also an active workshop speaker on a variety of topics relating to pasture management.
The objectives of this pilot project were to increase carbon sequestration and soil organic matter, improve soil biology, increase pasture productivity and drought proofing, improve livestock average daily gains (ADG), increase stock density, decrease paddock size, decrease the grazing period and increase the recovery period.
As a first step, a soil assessment, including soil health parameters, organic matter and carbon levels, was conducted (soil will be retested in three years), followed by a pasture assessment of species’ composition, and the amount of bare ground and litter present. Cattle weights were also recorded at the start of the grazing season and when the animals were coming off pasture.
A sod-seeded legume mix was planted to increase diversity and nitrogen fixation. Water troughs were added to the pasture system and portable fencing equipment was utilized to decrease paddock size. The grazing period was reduced from three to seven days in 2013 to one day or less (2014), and the recovery period increased from approximately 40 days to over 100 days for some paddocks (yielding 1 to 1.5 grazings per year). The paddock size was also reduced from 16 acres (6.5 hectares) in 2013 to 1 acre (0.4 hectare) or less in 2014.
As a result, stock density increased from approximately 3,000 lbs. of beef per acre (3,360 kg of beef per hectare) in 2013 to over 7,000 lbs. of beef per acre (7,846 kg of beef per hectare) in 2014.
At a winter producer workshop and on a summer tour, Brian discussed the project and the beneficial results of high-stock density grazing, and two articles written about project and tour were submitted to local papers for distribution.