South 7 Ranches

Barrhead, Alberta

Type CEC-support Ranch Pilot
Organization South 7 Ranches
Country Canada
Region Barrhead, Alberta
Grass Type Mixed-grass
# of head of cattle 600 cow/calf pairs and custom grazing operation with 1,000 yearlings
Hectares 1,619
Language English
Date modified August 2015

Chad and Stacey Meunier have owned and operated South 7 Ranches for seven years and have been farming for 20 years. Stacey has taken the Ranching for Profit School twice and her family farm was managed under Holistic Management principles. Stacey holds an agriculture business degree from the University of Alberta and Chad has diplomas from Olds College. Both Chad and Stacey work off-farm at Paul Meunier and Sons Farm, where they calve out 3,000 cows and have a feedlot, so they have vast expertise in the cattle industry. Stacey and Chad have also participated in a couple of industry projects demonstrating beneficial management practices in the areas of traceability and data management.

South 7 Ranches has a combination of 600 cow/calf pairs and custom grazing operation with 1,000 yearlings. The ranch is located south of Lisburn, Alberta, in Lac Ste. Anne County, and is composed of about 4,000 acres (1,617 hectares) of deeded and rented land. All of the ranchland has been put into permanent rangeland.

South 7 Ranches have been implementing some changes to management as the ranch grows, including fencing off riparian areas and installing pump out water systems and extensive cross-fencing. Management-intensive grazing practices have been implemented and bale grazing is the sole winter-feeding practice that is used in an aim to reclaim the land. Pastures are fenced to separate them based on topography and soil types in order to manage them in a manner best suited to the land. Most of the land that the Meuniers have rented was previously managed on a conventional continual grazing basis.

Three quarter sections within the South & Ranches land base, comprising a land unit of 480 acres (194 ha.), will be monitored over a long-term period, working from benchmark numbers documented in 2014. Two sites were chosen in each of the three quarters for a range health inventory of general site plant species’ diversity, site-specific plant species’ composition, percentage of ground cover and invasive weed species. Land EKGTM protocols (see <www.landekg.com/>) were used to develop the inventories. ¬†General site descriptions were also noted. Multiple photo points were taken at each of the six sites. Permanent marking points were put in place and GPS coordinates recorded so the sites can be revisited in the future. Water sampling was done on the dugouts, soil samples were taken, and forage clippings were taken to monitor forage yields and quality. A 16 by 16 foot (4.9 m by 4.9 m) exclusion cage will be set up at the site for long-term monitoring. Grazing was monitored by the landowner for the duration of the summer in 2014 and will be into the future as well.

An offsite watering system was installed in late fall 2014. The site was not grazed during the winter months and spring growth in 2015 has been very slow due to cold temperatures and lack of precipitation so cattle have not yet been turned in. Grazing will be monitored once growth is sufficient and water samples will be taken periodically during the growing season.