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Old 03-24-2014, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,934 posts, read 5,827,636 times
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There are currently around 50 small meat processors in the state that do their own kills and processing, no, they aren't the big boys like Armour, but they do a good business processing local meats and either selling the meat themselves or like we do where the customer buys our animal, we take it to the packer, the packer processes the meat and the customer picks it up.

For a small operation, it doesn't matter if you raise cattle, goats, sheep or hogs, unless the customer processses the meat themselves it has to go through a certified packer.

There is a good market for locally grown meat. You do need to be aware of the laws which is why we sell live animals, not processed meat to the customer.

For a small organic/free range/no hormone kind of operation you can get several dollars more per lb than you can selling through the sales ring.

It is more work and you have to know what you are doing, but it can make a small operation feasible.

I had to give a presentation for the Montana Extension Service this past weekend, (I was one of several presenters for a class that had been going for 4 classes), and it was specifically geared toward small, homestead type farms.

I would heartily reccomend talking the the extension service before starting any kind of small agricultural business.

Montana State University Extension - Bozeman Montana

I would wholeheartedly support anyone trying to find a way to make a living in agriculture, It is vital to the state and our own food security.
It isn't an easy life, it is pretty expensive to start, but for those willing to make the attempt, I would say good for you and Good Luck
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
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Here is a project of local producers and local consumers in western Montana, Lake County to be exact.
Farm to school food, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center.
Local Farms, Local Kids: A Montana Farm to School Movie - YouTube
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,548 posts, read 12,632,148 times
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Speaking of starting something, there used to be a program for restoring damaged rangeland -- it would provide grass seed, at least. Now I can't find anything about it, and got no response from the Extension Office. Anyone know about this?
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
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If you look at the research worldwide done by Allan Savory and the Savory Institute, you see that re-seeding in conservation programs is not a magic bullet for desertification and rangeland erosion. The solution is managed grazing of livestock in the way that large wild mammal herds naturally grazed, left their urine and manure, broke the crust with their hooves, then moved on and did not return until the soil went through a seasonal cycle to regenerate. There are ranchers in Montana and other western states who are using these managed grazing methods taught by the Savory Institute.
For seed info, here is a link.http://www.msuextension.org/publicat...ces/EB0019.pdf

Here is some info on the type of managed grazing to improve grasslands as done by the Savory Institute.
Allan Savory Presenting at Harvard Law School - YouTube
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:32 PM
 
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I am not aware of a free program for seed. You can buy some native seeds that have been cleaned from Circle S by Three Forks. It might gave been an EQUIP program from NRCS. We avoid govt programs so do not recall details. There has been an effort to improve CRP and it may have been part of that. We do not participate in CRP.
Most good range managers have been using some sort of Savory system since the 1980s. We have restored rangeland to prime condition on three ranches using intensive grazing and burning and selective spraying of noxious weeds.
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:04 PM
 
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We all carry sprayers to spot stay noxious weeds such as Spotted Knapweed, and Leafy Spurge which are probably the worst, at least in our area. So, who else does that?

Our deeded land and Federal allotments are a one year grazed and the next year not. Works good for the cattle and for wildlife. We also maintain the stock ponds and reservoirs on deeded and public land.
Water is important, not only to cattle.
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Old 03-27-2014, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,934 posts, read 5,827,636 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SageCreek View Post
We all carry sprayers to spot stay noxious weeds such as Spotted Knapweed, and Leafy Spurge which are probably the worst, at least in our area. So, who else does that?

Our deeded land and Federal allotments are a one year grazed and the next year not. Works good for the cattle and for wildlife. We also maintain the stock ponds and reservoirs on deeded and public land.
Water is important, not only to cattle.
We always spray for Knapweed.

For leafy spurge, when we had sheep they controlled it well, now with the Highlanders, they seem to think it's some kind of candy, they love weeds for some reason

Really helps with noxious weed control though
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,524,009 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happiness is View Post
If you look at the research worldwide done by Allan Savory and the Savory Institute, you see that re-seeding in conservation programs is not a magic bullet for desertification and rangeland erosion. The solution is managed grazing of livestock in the way that large wild mammal herds naturally grazed, left their urine and manure, broke the crust with their hooves, then moved on and did not return until the soil went through a seasonal cycle to regenerate. There are ranchers in Montana and other western states who are using these managed grazing methods taught by the Savory Institute.
For seed info, here is a link.http://www.msuextension.org/publicat...ces/EB0019.pdf

Here is some info on the type of managed grazing to improve grasslands as done by the Savory Institute.
Allan Savory Presenting at Harvard Law School - YouTube
I am not sure if folks on the forum know of the Padlock Ranch that is headquartered in Dayton, Wyoming, but they command a little over 493,000 acres, most of which is in Montana.

A few years back, they hired a new ranch manager that has been making sweeping changes, all of them good.

One of the changes that he made is, what he calls, in line with the buffalo. They no longer have winter, or summer pasture. They went to a 3 and 9 cycle (I may not have that number exactly right, it's been a while since I saw the special on TV about it, but it's close). They graze, no more than 3 weeks on any pasture, and then they move the cattle on to another pasture, not coming back, for 9 - 3 week cycles. They said that this, by far, has had the greated impact on their ranching. The grasses revitalize and because of longer periods of no broken soil, the grass is coming back much healthier. They also cut down to around 40,000 head, total, which is not a great number when you think about the number of acres they have. They have not done this to the entire ranch, but instead, selected certain areas of both Wyoming and Montana as the test area. They have had a few years of this to gain some studies on, so it's not like a single year, get results, but instead has been going on for some 10 years or so. It has reduced feedng hay in the winter, by 40% or so. When the grass is 4 ft tall, it sticks out of the snow and the cattle don't loose weight foraging. 3 weeks, move em.

I also realize this has nothing to do with a "small" operation, but you folks have been talking or hinting about grass in Montana, so I thought I would throw this out there. It's nice to see when a plan comes through, and it's specially nice when a ranch, the size of the Padlock, puts that kind of faith in their ranch managers. By the way, since he became ranch manager, he and the Padlock has gain recognition with several prestigious awards in the same amount of time. One of the biggest was old cars and steel. Remember, back in the 40's, 50's, and even the 60's, the best way to stop erosion in the rivers and heavy streams was to dump car bodies. Some were dumped with engine oil, full tank of gass, etc. Some were lined up like rip-rap. One of the awards was in Wyoming, Padlock has worked with the Army Corp of Engineers and they have went in with large excavators and rerouted waterways, then removed all metal, cars, concrete, etc, from the waterway, and then routed it back so that it is more natural and is certainly cleaner. Because of the involvement with the Army Corp of Engineers, the waterways now pass more water with less erosion.
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,548 posts, read 12,632,148 times
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Yeah, I think I posted Allan Savory's video over on the Porch a bit ago.

Where I lived in the SoCal desert, so long as it was grazed regularly (usually spring and fall for a couple days to a couple weeks in each camp, depending) the native grasses and flowers did well. Where the sheep no longer came, the weeds soon took over. So I've seen it right out my back door.

Another thing that's been discovered is that a healthy natural streambed is NOT overgrown -- it's grazed down just like everything around it.

People forget that where now there are millions of cows, there used to be millions of bison. You need one or the other (doesn't matter which) to keep healthy what evolved to be grazed.
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