The morning stops featured Three Bar Cattle Company, owned and managed by John and Cheryl Ravenscroft and their family 35 miles south of Nenzel in the center of Cherry County. This ranch has a long history of applying planned grazing management principles to enhance the grazing resource and conserve wildlife habitat. Other family members on the ranch include oldest son, Eric, and his wife, Shannon, and their children (Jaylynn, Tyler, Elle, and Tucker); and middle son, Kevin, his wife, Liz, and their daughters (Kayleigh and Lilly). A third son, Brant, is in Enid, OK at Air Force flight school along with his wife, Emily, and their daughters (Caroline and Nora). Three Bar Cattle Company is a combination stocker, commercial cow/calf and Red Angus seedstock operation. In recent years, approximately 1200 purchased spayed heifers rotationally graze 19 paddocks on 8,000 acres. Some two-year-olds have been harvested and marketed as grass finished beef. The 1,000 operation rotates through 28 paddocks on 11,500 acres. Approximately 300 replacement heifers graze 7 paddocks on 2,300 acres. Eric and Shannon have started a registered Red Angus seedstock herd grazing five paddocks with a total of 1775 acres. Haying takes place on eight meadows (1,000 acres). A 130-acre center pivot waters a grass alfalfa mixture. A feature of these stops included appreciation for the abundance and diversity of tall grass prairie species as a result of intensive grazing management for many years.
The afternoon stops featured the Spikebox Ranch – McMurtrey Unit, which is a Turner Enterprises operation managed by Tim Goodnight located in the remote heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. The 142,000-acre Spikebox Ranch comprises a diverse mixture of rolling sandhills, choppy dunes, and vast meadow and wetlands complexes. The North Loop River flows through the southern portion of the ranch, providing excellent habitat for many species. Spikebox Ranch uses planned grazing to manage the grazing and recovery periods of its pastures and to promote healthy rangelands and animal performance. Along with the bison operation, Spikebox Ranch actively pursues conservation projects, including the largest stream restoration project ever conducted in the Sandhills. The bison breeding herd is run in one herd, grazing year-round with minimal supplementation. In recent years, Tim Goodnight has intensively grazed wet meadows with yearlings resulting in increased wet meadow plant community diversity and increased productivity and utilization. Tour participants gained great appreciation for the differences in bison versus cattle production. A feature of this ranch stop was 2100 yearling bison intensively grazing wet meadow paddocks on a 36- hour rotation.
The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition is an independent organization of ranchers, interest groups, and agencies whose mission is to collaborate on projects that improve the management and health of Nebraska grazing lands and ensure long-term stability of rangeland resources. The NGLC is funded through grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA and the World Wildlife Fund-US.
The World Wide Fund -US is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment. As the world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in nearly 100 countries to tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of nature, people, and climate.
Nebraska Extension is a Division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln cooperating with the Counties and the United States Department of Agriculture.