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The Three G's

written by

Joshua Harris

posted on

January 2, 2023

Sometimes it seems so simple to raise animals and produce grass-fed beef. But there is often more than meets the eye and there needs to be consideration of a lot of different facets in order to be successful. The three main areas that we focus on are what we have termed the 3 G's; Genetics, Grass, and Grazing.


In order for a grass-based system to work you must have cattle that fit the system. Enter the South Poll. This is the breed we chose in order to produce our beef. We have had South Poll Cattle for over 15 years and we have loved their abilities to be raised on grass. The breed is designed to thrive in a hot, humid environment and they do a great job of handling our fescue dominant pastures. Great maternal instincts and calving ease make them a great choice to calve in a rotational system where they may not always have access to a barn or handling facilities. While there are other breeds that fit as well it is overall important that you just have a breed that fits in the grass-based system. A lot of breeds have been adapted over time to be most effective in a grain-fed, feedlot finishing situation. They will not handle a grass-based system. We love our South Poll Cattle and the great-tasting beef they produce.


Now that the genetics that will fit the system are in place it is important that we understand our process. How are we going to graze our pastures in order to best build soil health? While it's great to have genetics, if you can't manage them then you will only run into issues and frustrations. We must plan our water access, location of handling facilities, schedule and pattern of rotations across our farm, and much more. This is where all the variables come into play in the management aspect of the farm. If we are able to effectively plan our rotations then we can line up when we will move through our handling areas to treat animals, we will have water access where we can mob graze more effectively to help build soil health, we will be able to plan to use the least amount of hay as possible, and we can set our beef animals up for success!


Here is where the real advantage is gained in the grass-fed beef game. Having high-quality forage available for the cattle. The nutritional benefits of quality pastures makes all the difference for animals. Nutritional value can make all the difference. Providing the mama cow with plenty of forage to make good milk, allowing our steers to have the carbohydrates they need in order to put on weight, giving our yearlings good forage as they develop into breeding stock. While we rely mainly on natural forages in the pasture, some inter-seeding may be appropriate depending on the situation. More than anything, in order to produce quality pastures you HAVE TO build SOIL HEALTH. Without healthy soil, the whole system fails. It is the driver of the system and the decisions made should reflect that. The soil comes first!

While all of these are different areas of our operation they all work synergistically as well. There has to be consideration of how every decision will affect all three areas. When we neglect one, the rest suffer as well. Putting together a quality grass-based operation takes all three working together!


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