There’s a saying about horses — no foot, no horse. To apply it to the ranch, it may go: no grass, no ranch. In Grant Taillieu’s case you can compound that problem by adding “no money” to the mix. When Grant and his father Gerry Taillieu took over management of the Tomahawk Ranch, it was in Grant’s words “in rough shape’ and in need of a major overhaul. That was in 2001, and just ahead of the terror of BSE on the cattle industry, as well as a period of very dry weather. Not exactly a great time to prod investors for help. So, in an act of “true grit”, the Tallieu’s took a holistic approach that involved intense management of the commodities they had on hand – land, water and cattle.
It’s definitely not a quick fix approach, but it worked. Through applying carefully managed rotational and seasonal grazing patterns to the delicate areas of the ranch, managing soil fertility through things like bale grazing in winter and focusing on things that kept the herd healthy and content, the Tomahawk Ranch is now a sustainable, profitable business. That holistic, environmentally sensitive approach, which includes things like the fencing off of delicate riparian areas and a commitment to giving the grassland the rest it needs was a part of the reason the Tomahawk Ranch was awarded the 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award. This year, Grant spoke to the crowd at the 2014 Tiffin Conference about his experience. RealAgriculture’s Jason Stroeve spoke to him there.
More from the Tiffin conference: Conversations on Food with John Gilchrist
If you cannot see the embedded player, click here to hear this interview.