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Is large scale grass fed beef sustainable?

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andybob

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http://grist.org/food/home-on-the-range-can-grass-based-ranching-be-scaled-up-sustainably/

These are the cattle which form the basis of the breeding program;
http://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=13579858
 

andybob

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jodywy said:
maybe in Florida but that ear dosn't do good here , they would look really funny in Gcreeks country too

I haven't thought of Mashona as being "eared" Sanga breeds being Bos Taurus are able to thrive in cold winters in the mountains in southern Africa, but the intention behind using Sanga breeds is for their easy keeping and beef quality in southern brittle environments. The commercial herd will be Mashona/Angus crosses in this prgram.

For interest here are some pictures of Bonsmara in the Canadian winter; http://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8986914
 

gcreekrch

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It will be interesting to watch but most grandiose agricultural plans dreamed up by folks with money usually end up being exactly what they are seeking...... a tax write-off, usually a very good one. :wink:

andybob, I know you are passoinate about your kind of cattle, as a good stockman should be but bringing those cattle to a cold climate and expecting them to adapt would be as practical as taking Galloways to the African veldt.
 

andybob

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I believe this project stands a good chance of success as the manager started up and ran a similar project in Mexico, the deteriorating security situation forced him to leave (empathy from here!)
His mentorm Johann Zietsman has been consulting throughut southern Africa and South America with impressive results in terms of both holistic land management and identifying adapted genetics which also match the market requierments.
I personally preferr to see farms and ranches run by families, and again it has been this type of training which has helped many families turn their businesses around and retain their family properties.

I totally agree that the breed or cross must be adapted to the environment, a point I have been consistant in promoting, my aim in showing Sanga and their composites can thrive further north than Indicus strains was not to imply they should be used in northern temperate climates, after all, the British breeds are fulfilling the needs in this climatic zone, and my fondness for Celtic cattle in the far north has been mentied often in my posts. The Sanga will cope with those parts of Texas for example that have extreme swings between summer and winter temperatures, many people do not realise that our winters in Africa can be severely cold, with snow in areas where there is winter precipitation, thus developing native strains that cope with extremes. It would be interesting however, to see how an F1 damline based on a Galloway/Sanga cross would do in terms of improved foraging ability, and better shedding in the spring, we have a problem in our on farm abattoir here with Galloways and Highlanders needing to be clipped before slaughter to preveny carcase contamination by dirty hair during skinning.
 

Denny

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In my opinion No.To many of us rent alot of our land base and about the time you think you've got a plan in place someone dies,gets divorced or gets offered more money the list is endless. At least with grain finished you can call one of many feed stores here and have ground gold nuggets by days end less land base for me to hang onto if I were in the feedlot business.
 

mrj

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It is always interesting to read about other ways of raising beef, and other breeds of cattle.

It would help anyone interested in considering a breed, as well as other facets of ag and our interests, if climate were detailed a little.

Such as extremes of temperatures, precipation, and timing thereof.

For instance, where I live in SD, we can range from -50% in winter to +117% in summer. I have seen the 117 temp., and the -50 is on record, but before I was born 72 years ago this month. A more typical low is -40 and that is rare, thank God! Highs in the low 100's are more typical, and we do have pretty high humidity with that the past week, Last summer was far more moderate, with very few temps over 92%.

Precipitation is usually rain, but we can have snows measured in feet, too, again that is thankfully rare in this mid-state area. Most of our approx. 15" of precip. comes during our growing season. Growing season can be as short as three months, with it rare to have frost after the first week of June, or before the last week of August, but it happens more often than gardeners prefer! Winter can begin in early Oct, tho we have had near a foot of snow in mid-Sept. Also thankfully, that is rare and has melted almost immediately. Our very mild last winter saw very little snow, few temperatures below 20%, ,many days well above freezing. We thought a drought wasn't a bad thing during winter, and expected that we would have a 'wetter' spring and summer, but no luck with that, although we are not so hard hit as other nearby areas, getting about one third of the hay crop of last year and pastures aare looking fair at this time.

This is more detail than I asked for others to post, but a brief version would be helpful for those considering changes in methods, I'm sure.

mrj
 

andybob

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Mrj; The upper temperatures including with humidity are the extremes which the Sanga breeds have evolved in, crosses and compsites with 50% Sanga content also cope with these temperatures, and will graze during the heat of the day while European breeds are in the ponds. Full blood Sanga breeds do well in cold dry winters or a few inches of snow with high windchill factors (Berg wind in South Africa), the Bonsmara bulls in the pictures were in -40cel, being a 50% Afrikana/25% Hereford/25% Shorthorn composite, I believe the British content will have contributed a higher degree of cold tolerance, while the Bonsmara has been selected for high performance in the feedlot, and is exelent pure or crossed for feedlot finishing, the Tuli and Mashona are better breeds for crossing for grass feeding, both these breeds have a high degree of marbling which is more desireable for the USA market.
 

mrj

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Thank you 'andybob', and also for beginning this thread.

I have a book of Bonsma's work that I got many years ago. I admired his ideas, as being pretty much what the old time ranchers believed about cattle, but he had the science to explain things, where ranchers had their 'cowboy intuition' to go by. Which really was probably just observation of cattle by generations of 'herdsmen' who passed their methods on to 'the new generation' time after time.

mrj
 

PureCountry

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I believe grass-fed and finished can be sustainable with proper land management - like Holistic Management and such. It may not work for all as Denny pointed out, just like a lot of other things don't work for a lot of folks, such as calling the feed store for deliveries at your whim.

In certain areas, grass fed is sustainable. The trick is trying to do the management, production, marketing, delivering, and book-keeping all by yourselves, and still have a life you enjoy with time allotted for family and friends. Harder yet, try to find other producers willing to work as a co-op and distribute the workloads. :wink:
 

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