Fort Causeway Farm

Our Management Intensive Grazing Program


Management Intensive Grazing is a widely used term in livestock production and can mean many different things depending on the farm implementing the program. Also called rotational grazing or mob grazing, it has come to mean any type of grazing done that requires more labor inputs on the part of the farmer than just releasing the livestock out into pasture or rangeland each spring and checking them once in a while.

We believe that a good basic definition of Management Intensive Grazing is the practice of only grazing one part (or paddock) of the entire pasture while letting other parts rest and re-grow. We have put together a detailed page here descrbing Fort Causeway's grazing program and protocols to hopefully answer any other questions and give an accurate picture of how we operate here.


Forage Fed and Finished versus Grass Fed and Finished


We felt that 'Grass Fed and Finished' was not an adequate description of how we feed and finsihed our lambs. By saying 'Forage Fed and Finished' we are stating that our stock are not fed any dry grain at any point in their life. We grow more than grass in our pastures, though, because we feel the lambs need more nutrition than grass alone can provide. Our pastures include varieties of grasses as well as alfalfas, clovers, bird's foot trefoil, cicer milkvetch and even some plants that sheep thrive on that would be considered weeds anywhere else, like morning glory and lamb's quarter.

Compaction of the grazing ground is also a large issue here in our area. Compaction from livestock traffic causes many problems in a perennial pasture by stunting root growth and increasing alkali sediment. It also restricts the water flow during irrigation decreasing efficiency. In order to combat the contiual problem of compaction, we have implemented ideas from a few different programs such as P.T. Yeoman's Keyline Designs and the 12 Aprils system. We perform mechanical tillage using a low surface disturbance plow that lifts the soil from underneath while minimizing the damage done to the growth on the surface of the ground. This stimulates root growth which increases plant and soil health. It also creates a water mark allowing for more efficient use of irrigation water and more even distribution of moisture into the ground.

We also mow to control unwanted plant growth and no-till seed each year to maintain the growth we do want in the pastures. To read more about these systems and our services and how they could possibly help your farm, please check out the links below:

Management Intensive Grazing (MIG)


Again, we did not feel that the term rotational grazing adequately describes our grazing program. We do rotate our sheep through different paddocks through the year, allowing for rest and recovery of grazed areas. Fencing is a huge initial cost for this type of program, but easily pays off in the long term by allowing for healthier, longer lasting forage, healthier soil and increased stocking rates on the land. Since we have flood irrigated land, we also have had to arrange our program around the need for paddocks to be irrigated, rested and then grazed. This is a challenge we strive to meet each year. Our pastures are truly managed in the sense that we plan what is planted and no-till seed and upgrade into the fields each year. Sometimes the animals are moved to where they can get the best nutrition, sometimes they are moved to where the soil can most benefit from the manure coverage for long term nutrition benefits.

Because of our low snow cover here in the Bighorn Basin, we are able to graze our pastures year round. We do supplement organic hay in the colder winter months, but the sheep are fed on pasture, which helps send nutrition back into the fields and allows the sheep to be outside, moving and foraging, soaking up the many 300+ days of sunshine we are blessed with. Our sheep breeds are highly adaptable to both cold and warmer weather and, as long as provided with shelter from wet and wind, are able to thrive outside year round.

To read more about MIG, please check out the links below:

Other Benefits of our Management Intensive Grazing Program


Sustainability


Now more than ever, as technology seems to become ever more pervasive in our lives, it is time to support those with skills that enable us to provide healthy and secure food options for our future. We must plan ahead, for our children will need clean air, great water, and consistent quality food sources, grown in a stewardly manner, as building blocks for their communities. We disagree with the premise that chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, patented seed and GMO technology, and corporate intensive livestock confinement farms are the answer. America is about options, and we therefore present a clean fresh option for the discerning consumer.

All of the benefits we've mentioned above contribute to the sustainability of our farm. By sustainability, we mean the ability of our farm to continue to grow and be profitable without a large amount of increased inputs over time on our part. We feel that balance is a huge part of how we keep our farm sustainable. We are also always looking for things to try to make it more so. We also feel that small family farms can once again be the answer to many of our food and health issues in America. We are working hard, one day at a time, to do what we can with what we have been given to once again provide good food to our communities from a farmer you can shake hands with and look in the eye.

Forage Finishing is an age old method used by graziers to finish animals to obtain maximum meat quality, nutrition, and consistency. Did you know that old style family farms would finish stock on spring germinated wheatgrass for best quality? Grass finishing impacts our soil and air the least out of all the methods of finishing animals to be utilized for human consumption. When grass finishing in a polyculture environment without animal confinement, we choose and are able to forego pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, routine caustic wormers, GMO seed, chemical fertilizers, and lengthy inhumane transportation shipments of live animals.

Sprouting and Feeding Superfood


At Fort Causeway In Northern Wyoming, you have to be tough. But we are adamant that our finished products are never tough, for we strive to finish lean meat high in nutrition, on a consistent year round schedule, organically.

In addition to the methods described above, we also use fodder technology to add the nutritious benefits of wheatgrass and barleygrass to the animal's food rations. Listed as one of the 7 superfoods available in the world for human consumption, we felt it only fair to provide the same nutrition to our animals, and therefore end consumers.

The result is a vertically integrated local product, from seed cleaning through processing. The farmer is now once again in control of high protein barley and wheat seed, and saves the best of the crop for future planting. Consistent meat quality, texture, nutrition is attained no matter the season, while supporting local organic grain farmers and meat processing plants.