In the January/February 2012 issue of HMI’s Journal, IN PRACTICE, Certified Educator and Saskatchewan rancher, Don Campbell, shared how Holistic Management benefited him and his family. He talked about how he was attracted to Holistic Management by the idea he could double his grass (stocking rate). He was able to increase his grass but became more interested in how the people and financial aspects of Holistic Management needed to be incorporated into his life. That’s when things really came together. He notes one of the first big decisions the family had to make:
“The first big change came when we were faced with a lot more summer grass and no increase in winter feed. Buying hay was not an option I was open to at that time. My solution was to sell my cow herd and run grass yearlings. I dispersed my herd of about 350 Red Angus Simmental cross cows and stocked the ranch with 1,300 yearlings. I want to pay tribute to my dad. Even though he was retired he was still vitally interested in the ranch. His retirement depended on the ranch being successful. I told him about my plans. His comment was: ‘Do what you think is best; I trust your judgment.’
What a powerful message of encouragement and support to me. I often wonder if I have been able to give my children the same degree of support. Where are you at with regards to these types of issues?”
Another huge paradigm shift that Don had was around ownership of cattle. After looking at what the debt load was going to be after buying cattle, he decided to buy a smaller number and custom graze the rest so he ended up collecting interest from the bank rather than owing money. As Don notes: “When you want to make major changes, change how you see things.”
The second paradigm shift Don had regarded winter feed. They use to make hay but now he runs more cattle to harvest the wealth in the grass and with that he can buy winter feed and free up time from haying.
A third major shift for Don was to move their calving from March 20th to May 10th. This has allowed us to match the nutritional requirements of our cattle with our grass growth. It has also saved a huge amount of labor. They made this move incrementally over several years.
Don credits the two management clubs he belongs to. Without these clubs they would not be where they are today. To contact Don: [email protected].