The style of management we use with the cattle focuses on health. Health of the cattle, the food we are raising to feed our families, and the health of the environment. We strive to literally leave the planet a little better than we found it. What does that actually mean for the land? All sorts of things. Supporting bountiful clean water for all, diverse intact habitats for all our neighbors who fly, crawl, slither, run. Just like we take our temperature or various tests to check our human health, we have a variety of methods and tests to check the health of the land. One that I will focus on today is our biodiversity in plants.
One that has been particularly motivating and clear to see changes based solely on management is a new 1700 acre ranch we brought on in partnership with Sonoma Mountain Institute (SMI) last year. These are some of the preliminary ecological reports we have seen through our third party biologists we work with.
Our monitoring includes native and perennial species. Vegetation monitoring results conducted by SMI in 2023 on the new property are quite promising, with an average relative increase in biodiversity of 25% across the ten monitored plots. In addition to the increase in biodiversity, there was an average relative increase of 72% in perennials and a 57% relative increase in natives in the same plots. Lastly we performed a second monitoring event on 7 out of the 10 monitoring points in August to help better understand the star thistle trends. In those late season monitored plots we saw an average of 8.5% relative decrease in cover of yellow star thistle We feel good about these numbers, and they tell us our grazing and management strategies are moving in the right direction in the first year. You can access an in-depth breakdown of monitoring data for each monitoring point on SMI website.
We changed the management style, and included copious rest that this land had not seen for many decades. We decreased our stocking rate compared to the numbers this land was seeing before (meaning how many animals we have) by 37%.
The new management plan includes animals at higher density levels with longer rest periods than in the past. We also combined this new ranch with two other ranches that connect to it to create a larger contiguous grazing landscape, which allowed us to spread the grazing rotation out across more land. We increased the number of paddocks on this new property by 750% to the previous management.Greater densities and longer rest periods are typically causal in improving overall ecological health and ecosystem function as they mimic historic grazing patterns of the wild herds that used to roam these lands.
Whew! Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, send em our way. Keep it biodiverse yall.
Grounded Grassfed Team