On October 17 & 18th, 2023, Louis Martin hosted HMI Executive Director and Certified Educator, Wayne Knight and twelve participants at Brett Gray Ranch for a two-day workshop filled with interactive sessions and real-life examples and learnings. Folks joined from Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming and California.
Profitability is a key concern expressed by most producers, who are also struggling with drought and variable rainfall so this workshop introduced attendees to how Louis has approached profitability, land health improvement and infrastructure development priorities at the Brett Gray Ranch. Holistic Management has played a key role into his mindset. Louis used the Holistic Management planning and monitoring to successfully manage the infrastructure design, the financial planning and Holistic Grazing Planning components in concert.
The tremendous increase in this ranch’s productive capacity is inspirational. Given that Louis improved the resilience of the land he managed during a drought is a testament to his management and how effective Holistic Management can be in achieving triple bottom line results!
Louis explained how his low cost, low risk approach to ranching has paid off handsomely over time. He explained how he started off his lease by introducing animals without any changes to infrastructure for two years. In that time he observed how animals reacted to the land and management. From there he started by investing in his water system before systematically building permanent electric fencing over time. Louis explained how important it is to plan for significantly more stock than the land can carry when starting out with Holistic Planned Grazing so you don’t undersize your water system.
Louis was also generous in sharing his livestock business model, from the kind of animals he buys to the time of year he calves. He shared how he makes those decisions, and hee went on to share how he makes his calculations to arrive at those decisions and how he has managed to feed no hay to his herd.
Wayne Knight introduced attendees to forage assessment tools and how to use those numbers to decide on matching animal numbers to forage produced based on pasture growth patterns and probabilities. These figures were then used to plot out grazing planning moves on a grazing plan.
In the field, participants learned how to observe the land by looking for lead-indicators of land health trends, how to look at animals to determine if their performance is tracking to key productivity goals, and practicing forage assessment techniques.
Over the past 15 years under Louis’ management, the Brett Gray Ranch has fostered an ecosystem that has allowed for the growth of 12 additional desired grass species that aid in reducing the risk of drought, dramatically improving the land from 70% bare ground to 70% covered ground, while increasing the stocking rate from 400 AU’s to 800 AU’s.
|Knowledge, behavior and confidence increase:||% of participants who increased:|
|Overall satisfaction with workshop||100%|
|The value of a values-based goal||93%|
|The importance of ruminants in healthy ecosystems||42%|
|Ability to trial approaches to understand the importance of animal density, plant recovery and depth of graze||75%|
|Ability to link animal production risk and ecological health||83%|
|Ability to monitor and correct ecosystem processes trend||75%|
|Would you recommend this workshop to others?||100%|
It was an information-filled two days and a great opportunity to be on the land at the Brett Gray Ranch, seeing successful regeneration in action, discussing the ranch’s achievements, and learning from its challenges. Participants left with management tools and practices to implement at their own operations.
Thank you to our funders, Martha Records & Rich Rainaldi, for their generous support of our work and for making this workshop possible. Thanks also to Louis and the folks at the Brett Gray for this collaboration.
Scholarship funding support comes from the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation.