Grass-fed beef genetics field day at Rapid Creek Ranch – July 13, Oxford

For Release: July 1, 2015

OXFORD, Iowa — Getting started raising grass-fed beef may seem difficult, but experienced livestock producer Doug Darrow says the hardest part isn’t learning the logistics.

“The hardest thing is changing your thought process, letting nature be nature, and thinking about how you can manage that instead,” says Doug, who raises grass-fed beef at Rapid Creek Ranch near Oxford. “You’ve got to be willing to make a huge paradigm shift and look at everything from soil health to the genetics of your livestock.”

Learn about the ongoing work Doug and his son, Justin Wade, are doing to strengthen their grass-based beef business, including improving their cattle genetics, how they use stacked enterprises to assist them and more, at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Monday, July 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event – “Optimizing the Herd Through Grass-Fed Genetics” – is free to attend, and will include a lunch of grilled hamburgers. No RSVPs are needed, but guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share. Rapid Creek Ranch is located at 3727 Calkins Ave. SW, about 6 miles south of Oxford. The field day is sponsored by Solon Feed Mill.

Over the last 20 years, Doug has transitioned his conventional row crop farm into pasture that supports mob-grazed, grass-fed beef cattle, as well as a free-ranged broiler, layer and egg operation. Doug will discuss his recent purchase of two Pharo bulls and his breeding plan for optimizing grass-based genetics in his Angus herd. Pat Wall, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension, will share his expertise on genetic selection and carcass quality. Discussion will focus on paddock layouts, intensive grazing and a demonstration of the farm’s cattle-handling facilities.

Justin will discuss the farm’s broiler and layer operation, and how the poultry flock is incorporated into the grazing system. The morning session will provide an overview. After a noon lunch break, those who want to stay are invited to participate in a more in-depth discussion.

Rapid Creek Ranch encompasses 160 acres of grass used for the farm’s grass-fed and free-range enterprises. Three years ago, 80 acres were transitioned from row crop production. Doug says when he was starting the switch to grass-fed, one of the hardest aspects for him was accepting that he no longer had to work all the time.

“In agriculture, it seems like we’ve got to be busy doing something all the time. I remember spending lots of time thinking: When am I going to plant? How am I going to plant it? What’s it going to take from an input standpoint? Now I let the cows do the work in the pasture, and let the chickens clean up after cows. We’ve also started to look into genetics – smaller genetics – which are more efficient on grass.”

Directions: Take Exit 230 off I-80. Head south for 2 miles on Blackhawk Avenue; go to a stop sign. Turn left (east) on IWV road and drive for about one-half mile. Turn left onto Calkins Avenue and look for field day signs.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; 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 (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; 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 that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through 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 http://practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Doug Darrow and Justin Wade | Rapid Creek Ranch | (319) 330-1368 | [email protected]; [email protected] | http://rapidcreekranch.com

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