Balance, adaptive grazing, and custom feeding cattle — a LIVE! with Andrea Stroeve-Sawa


Today’s RealAg LIVE! guest breaks down what it means to run a feedyard, discussing grazing and balancing family life amidst it all. Andrea Stroeve-Sawa of Shipwheel Cattle joins our host Shaun Haney.

Don’t forget to tune into RealAg LIVE! every weekday at 3pm E, 1 pm M on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch!


  • Identity trouble: farmer or rancher?
  • Grazing feeder cattle
  • Blake, her dad, was into soil health before soil health was cool
  • Multi paddocks and people thought were nots
  • He took crop land and tried to grow pasture, and it was an epic fail. He needed more cows!
  • Feed yard management, custom feedyard
  • Customers come back year over year
  • It used to be 20 customers, now it’s more like six or eight larger customers
  • Backgrounding and fattening cattle. Backgrounding builds frame and muscle (around 900 pounds), cost effective gains
  • Managing death loss, too
  • More mild winters do make a difference on feed conversation
  • 2015 took over the feeder company, and said she wouldn’t hire her husband…but then did
  • The son is involved too
  • Adaptive, multi-paddock grazing — not rotational! Rotation suggests moving in a “linear” fashion from one to the next
  • Adaptive means planning ahead, water cycle, and the mineral cycle, and rainfall and time of year.
  • 500 head might move more than once a year.
  • Two dryland cells, one large cell is irrigated
  • Rating paddocks: animal days per acre. Done every year. Being doing this from 1982.
  • All will depend on so many factors: what was “left”, animals, deer feeding
  • There are some challenging paddocks that aren’t as diverse as they would like
  • 91% sand base. It’s a brittle environment.
  • They do own their own feeder cattle, and either sell in the fall or put them into their own feedlot
  • What does maintenance look like? Wind broke 13 fences.
  • Measuring soil carbon. Building soil! It’s complex and long term, and agriculture can be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem
  • Grazing isn’t the only way to build soil
  • Custom feeding is one way to manage some risk. Hedging, too.
  • What do you for heavy soil and wet times?
  • What about weeds? Manage for the grass you do want, but might use a well-placed mineral block to knock some back….
  • Compost! Windrow manure and compost it
  • Make sure you’ve got that carbon to nitrogen ratio correct
  • Work life balance doesn’t exist. Do the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons.
  • Dad is still around. Gets the mail, goes to the bank, helps with marketing and capital projects.

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