‘People don’t often look at ranching and the environment as a whole. They don’t realize it’s our home and where our food comes from. Together they are everything to us.’
– Bob Kidd
“The Kidd Bros. ranch was originally homesteaded in 1913. Since then, the Kidd brothers have worked hard to engrain themselves not only in the land they work off, but also in the surrounding community. They have worked closely with groups like the West Central Forage Association, Cows and Fish, and the Paddle River Stewardship Group” 20 to advance their commitment to environmental sustainability. The Kidd family is passionate about the ranching lifestyle and aims to educate consumers and other ranchers through ranch tours and field demonstrations. They are particularly progressive in protecting the water resources on and near their land.
“‘I had a strong desire to work in agriculture production and when the opportunity came up for me to become a Kidd Bros. partner I knew returning to work with my family was what I wanted to do. I had great respect for the work my father and his brothers were doing on the ranch,’ said Larry. ‘Bob and Larry have put a lot of effort into working with a number of environmental groups so others can benefit from their actions as well,’ said Greg Bowie, chair of the Alberta Beef Producers Environmental Stewardship Award. ‘Protecting the river and the land and plant life around it is a very obvious priority to the brothers. They are continually increasing permanent and temporary fencing to protect the sensitive riparian areas on their land.’
Bob was instrumental in the development of the Paddle River Stewardship Group in 2009, and through that, a number of riparian assessments and a complete inventory of the waterways have been completed. Bob and Larry recognize the importance of protecting the river and the surrounding riparian areas, so they utilize winter fencing around these areas and off-site watering systems. Cropping practices have been altered to include a larger buffer zone around all riparian areas as well.
‘It’s easier to protect the river and the riparian areas now than it is trying to reclaim them. We enjoy the river recreationally just as much as anyone else, so of course we are going to do what we can to take care of it,’ said Larry.” 21
Kidd Bros. ranch is also focused on increasing their energy-efficient management practices. “Solar off-site watering systems, solar powered electric fences, and swath grazing are used to achieve the goals. Cattle are moved on foot to feed sources and forages are swathed and left to graze instead of being baled to further reduce energy consumption. The Kidd brothers strongly believe that changing their grazing practices not only had a positive impact on the environment, but also made sense economically for their operation.
‘The brothers’ land management practices are what really stood out with their use of rotational grazing on pasture lands and knowledge of the plant species. They are very conscious of what works for their area and that benefits the soil and increases growth rates,’ said Bowie. ‘Whether it be perennial or swath grazed annual pastures, their cows are on grazing land the majority of the year and that really minimizes impact on the land.’
Swath grazing and changes to winter-feeding systems has eliminated the majority of confined feeding, and allows the cattle to fertilize the fields so machinery is used less. Minimizing chemical inputs and increasing use of manure fertilization are part of the Kidd brothers’ efforts to lessen the impact on the soil. Wintering sites are chosen based on increasing soil nutrients. Similar soil types are farmed together so lowland and wet areas are left as shelter areas for wildlife. The brothers have noticed a considerable increase in ungulates, birds and waterfowl in these areas.
‘Our great accomplishments have been recognizing our problems and weaknesses, and coming up with environmentally sound solutions for them,’ said Bob. ‘The ESA award was quite a surprise and such an honour to be recognized by a group of our peers who understand the challenges we face and what we deal with on a daily basis.’ ‘It’s nice to be recognized for moving agriculture in a positive direction. The environment is constantly playing a larger role in the decision-making of the initiatives we take on,’ said Larry.
Bob and Larry are always working to improve their management practices while minimizing the impact of the environment. With all of their considerable accomplishments and continued dedication to the environment, the Kidd Bros. are more than worthy recipients of the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award.” 22
20 Alberta Beef Producers Website. “Environmental Stewardship Award Winner 2011”.http://albertabeef.org/index.php/environmental-stewardship-award-winner-… (Accessed 19 June 2013)