REACH is going to give us that avenue to make our land sustainable - we want it to last forever we're just going to be on earth a short time, but our land is going to be here forever!
Panola County,MS cattleman Durwood Gordon is using native grasses in a two-hundred-acre intensive grazing operation near Batesville that is both efficient and environmentally friendly.
"I have quite a bit of native grasses that I put in because it was good for agriculture and good for business," Gordon said. "Native grasses require very little fertilization, and since their root systems grow very deep, they are drought-tolerant. "These native forages don't show as high food protein when you send them off for a nutrient analysis, but the cattle just thrive on them."
Each of these factors is important at Gordon Farms. He fenced off twenty-three paddocks of about five acres each and rotates his cattle every one to three days, depending on the condition of the forage.
Because he moves his cattle frequently, Gordon can check on their health as he handles them. The cows are accustomed to his presence and know what to expect when he arrives.
"Lots of days, I just open the gap and the cows walk right through into the next paddock," Gordon said. "When you have contented cows handled in a low-stress situation, you're going to have fewer health problems."
Another benefit of his setup is the fresh drinking water sources available in the paddocks.
"I put a water fountain under the cross fences so I have one water fountain for two paddocks," Gordon said. "Since the cows don't have to go very far for water, it's not a social event to go get a drink."
Gordon said the nearby water source benefits the entire pasture because the cows do not congregate in a limited area, leaving a high buildup of manure, and therefore nutrients, in one spot. When cows congregate at a water hole, they also tear up the ground, which can lead to erosion.
"In this system, the cows' manure and urine are spaced out uniformly over the paddock, and that cuts down on the amount of fertilizer I need to apply to that pasture," Gordon said.