Published Sep 22, 2015

Field Day Recap: Contract Grazing at the Schulte’s, September 3

By Meghan Filbert

The Schulte Family, in Norway, IA hosted a field day on September 3. The focus of the day was on beef cattle management – facilities, watering, pasture quality and grazing arrangements. After a lunch of pulled pork and potato casserole (thanks Sheri Schulte!) we heard from Rose Danaher, Price Creek Watershed Coordinator.

Rose explained local water quality initiatives in place to remove bacteria in the water. The Schulte’s have benefited from these initiatives; grazing practices, a monoslope structure, fencing and waterers were partly paid for through the water quality project. We then toured the farm on hayrack, driving through fields where sorghum-sudangrass had just been chopped and admired his pastures with robust alfalfa stands.


John discusses pasture seeding, fescue issues and the “almighty alfalfa”

In a pasture adjacent to a stream, John installed nose pump waterers to water his cattle. The watering station keeps cattle out of the stream, improving water quality and minimizing stream bank erosion. Pipes draw water out of the stream and into the nose pump. John said there is no learning curve for the cows to use this style of waterer, but calves have a harder time pushing the pump. To solve that issue, John installed the pumps on a mobile, slatted pallet and placed a tub underneath. Splashed water is caught in the tub and calves can fit their heads through the pallet slats, so calves always have water too.


John Schulte stands next to the nose-pump watering station for his pastured cattle

The second half of the day focused on the contract grazing arrangement that John’s son, Travis Schulte and their dairy-farming neighbor Dan Gerhold, created. Travis owns 100 acres and his friend and neighbor, Dan, milks cows and is trying to expand his herd. With limited nearby pasture available to rent, creating a contract grazing agreement worked for both Travis and Dan. Dan brings his cows over to graze from May – October, and Travis takes care of everything else (grazing management, fencing, mineral, water, supervision and labor of feeding and moving cows). Dan pays Travis on a per head per day basis. Travis will continually work on renovating the pastures to increase the carrying capacity – allowing for more cows to be grazed for a longer period of time, creating a win-win for both Travis’ and Dan’s operations.

Joe Sellers, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Ed Cox, an agriculture lawyer both shared resources they’ve created to help landowners and graziers create profitable and positive grazing arrangements. Here you can access Ed’s handout on rotational grazing on leased land and Joe’s handout on custom grazing rates and grazing arrangements.


Travis Schulte explains the grazing contract he operates under with Dan Gerhold, his dairy farmer neighbor – the pasture grazed under contract is behind him

We hope to continue to see more successful grazing arrangements in the future – as this is an excellent way for young farmers that don’t own land to get started!