If you want or need to know about effective grazing management of Nebraska Sandhills range, merely make a visit to 3 Bar Cattle Company, owned and operated by John and Cheryl Ravenscroft and family, located approximately 35 miles south of Nenzel, NE. John & Cheryl pictured with two of their boys Eric and Kevin and families
John and Cheryl are no strangers to the grazing community in Nebraska. Both John and Cheryl grew up on ranches and were neighbors in their youth. After they were married, they moved on this ranch in 1959. So, ranching comes as second nature to them today, and their children have gotten into the act.
The family started rotational grazing in 1986. Today, they make a general grazing plan even before completing financial planning, and then tweak it into a detailed plan before cattle go to grass. Each “cell” or group of cattle — including spayed heifers, first-calf heifers, cows, yearlings on meadow grass, replacement heifers, and a purebred, registered Red Angus herd.
Approximately 1,000 spayed yearling heifers graze 19 paddocks over a total of 8,145 acres. Approximately 28 paddocks make up the cow cell, covering 11,518 acres and grazing about 1,000 cows and calves. Approximately, 400 head of replacement heifers graze seven paddocks on 2,857 acres.
A registered Red Angus seedstock herd of approximately 200 cows grazes 10 paddocks with a total of 3,196 acres. Forage developed coming two- year- old bulls are offered late Winter. Other enterprises include haying approximately 1,000 acres in the best parts of eight meadows. To bolster hay production, they also have a 130-acre center pivot that runs over a grass-alfalfa mixture, along with a K-Line pod concept New Zealand-style irrigation system that covers 200 acres.
Planning makes perfect for the Ravenscroft ranch operation, but John told the tour participants that plans can and do change all the time. It takes some flexibility and the ability to make those adjustments in midseason to protect the soil, water and grass, and keep the cattle fed and healthy, even under challenging conditions. John currently serves as the President of the Sandhills Task Force and has contributed to board policy, direction and activities for many years.
At the recent Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC) Summer Grazing Tour held on the 3 Bar Ranch, John Ravenscroft and family were honored with the 2022 NGLC Lifetime Achievement Award. He and his family have hosted numerous grazing field days over the last couple decades. John has served as a mentor to numerous less experienced grazers. In reality, he has served and continues to serve as a mentor for the entire Nebraska grazing community. For more information, contact Ron Bolze, NGLC Coordinator, 402 321 0067 (cell) or [email protected].