The Walt Davis Ranch is a family ranch in southeast Oklahoma. The financial planning aspects of Holistic Management have allowed the Davis family to remain profitable for over 15 years in a row.
Ranching is a biological process, not an industrial process. The objective is to promote life and turn it into dollars. Prior to managing holistically, Davis was using many chemicals. Spraying for horn flies also killed the beneficial insects. When he stopped spraying, the number of horn flies went down. When the cattle were moved regularly, the horn fly larvae that hatched from the cow manure were left behind where parasites could feed on the fly larvae. Their horsefly problem also went away because the solitary wasps that feed on horseflies were able to increase their population without the sprays. Working with nature causes many problems to be designed out of the system while at the same time reducing operating costs. When Walt changed his calf-weaning program, the need for medications for stress induced by the weaning became unnecessary. Until that time, Davis had looked to technology to fix problems. Taking a closer look at the root cause of this problem led to a new way to wean the calves. He simply separated them from the mother cows with an electric fence. At first, the calves bawled for about 45 minutes, then the mothers and calves laid out next to each other along opposite sides of the fence and were happy. The stress was psychological, not from hunger that formerly made the calves sick. Since starting to manage holistically, Walt prevents most problems rather than solving them with purchased inputs after they happen.