Can cattle improve pastures and prairie? Learn how at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day – July 24, near Nevada – RSVPs requested

For Release: July 2, 2014

NEVADA, Iowa — For Ray Bratsch-Prince, working toward the health and sustainability of his pastures is just as important as working toward financial sustainability,

“I want to use my cattle to improve the pasture and do soil improvement,” says Ray, who operates Prairie Cattle Company on about 77 rented acres near Nevada. “I think the system can be scaled up profitably, but to do that you need to have healthy pastures.”

Hear how Ray has expanded his operation without purchasing land, his strategies to improve the land and how he uses cattle as a tool in the process at a Practical Farmers of Iowa pasture walk and field day he is hosting on Thursday, July 24, from 4-6 p.m., near Nevada. The event – “Grazing with More than Profits in Mind” – is free to attend, open to the public and will include dinner after the program. The pasture where the event will take place is located at the intersection of 200th Street and 610th Avenue, about 4.5 miles northwest of Nevada. Look for PFI field day signs.

RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please reply to Lauren Zastrow at [email protected] or (515) 232-5661 by Monday, July 21. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Attendees will learn how Ray has expanded his operation by renting increasingly more land from neighbors to gain pasture access, with a goal of improving the land. His practices and enterprises include rotationally stocked cattle, native prairie, bees and planned work on a maple grove for tapping and black walnut grove for harvesting. Ray will discuss his pasture and grazing management, which include rotational grazing, bale grazing, fencing and planning his pasture set-ups.

“Part of the grazing I’m trying to do is to graze as late into the season as possible, often into early December, and then bale-graze,” Ray says. “I’m trying to see if nutrition will trump genetics – if I can get any sort of cattle out there and feed them well on pasture through the rotation.”

Ray will also discuss how he uses cattle to manage and maintain native prairie and tree groves, cultivates bees for pollination benefits and his plans to develop maple and black walnut stands on the land. Additional speakers will include Ann and Linn Wilbur, experienced beekeepers who are helping Ray manage his hives.

Ray started farming in 2009 with five heifers on 18 rented acres. Over time, he was able to rent more and more land, fencing it in and returning land that had been set aside in the Conservation Reserve Program to functional pasture. He now grazes about 35 cattle on 77 rented acres, direct-marketing the grass-fed beef with hopes of someday selling grass-finished beef.

Directions: From Interstate 35, take Exit 116 toward County Road E29 and turn east onto 190th Street / CR E29. After 4 miles, turn right (south) onto 610th Avenue (a gravel road) for 1 mile. The pasture is at the intersection of 610th Avenue and 200th Street.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 field day season features 35 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available on Practical Farmers’ website, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2014 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Calcium Products; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Gateway Market and Café; Grain Millers, Inc.; Grassland Oregon; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Cross Seed – Soil First; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Insurance Corporation; MOSA Organic Certification; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); National Wildlife Federation; Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.

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Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Ray Bratsch-Prince | Prairie Cattle Company | (515) 291-8492 | [email protected]

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]