The Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Posted on Aug 10, 2023 by Annie Rowland

Rotational grazing is a sustainable farming practice where livestock are frequently rotated to different portions of a pasture to prevent overgrazing.

Our intensive rotational grazing sequesters carbon, creates a natural habitat for native plants & species, and conserves water. Plus, it's healthier for the cows!

Most conventionally raised meat (even when labeled "organic," "humanely raised" or "grass fed") are raised in crowded feedlots that emit tons of carbon and cause pollution to the surrounding area and beyond. 

Read below to learn more about the benefits of rotational grazing and why it's so important to support sustainable farmers!

The meat you eat matters!

At TC Farm we know the type of food you eat not only plays a huge role in your health but also the health of our environment. We are committed to sustainable farming practices that protect the environment, support local farmers, and respect the animals under our care.

Did you know the way we raise our beef has a net negative greenhouse gas impact? That’s right, every bite of healthy, tasty TC Farm steak reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere!

Sustainable farming methods do not come easy (or cheap!). Managing a rotational grazing practice is labor intensive, which is why most farms simply skip the extra effort required – especially for foods found in the grocery store. In fact, because of intentional loopholes in the regulations, many of the items labeled grass-fed in the grocery are fed corn and soy just like regular cattle – this is very common for dairy items.

Many food producers want consumers to believe that their food is sustainably & ethically raised and use photos of green pastures and happy looking animals which are not representative of the products being sold. Some local brands raise a small fraction of their animals outdoors and even provide tours, but consumers can not actually purchase the few animals which were raised outside because those are sold out of state under another brand.

At TC Farm all of our animals are raised to the same high standard. We are not willing to make compromises and we know that our members aren't either! Our prices not only reflect the quality of our meat, but also provide a fair wage to the hundreds of people working to bring you our amazing healthy food every day.

Our members' commitment to paying a fair price for sustainably raised foods is what keeps our farms going! 

Water Conservation in Drought Conditions

We had a LOT of snow over the winter that melted quickly in the spring. Our healthy pastures were able to collect and store much of that water, keeping our fields lush and green even throughout the drought we've been having.

Most conventional fields have tiles that drain off the majority of water, which floods local waterways and prevents the ground from absorbing extra water to hold until needed during a drought. This means those same fields will likely need to be irrigated in the case of dry weather, which creates a harmful cycle that wastes water. When water runs off from conventional farms, it usually includes excessive nutrients and pollutants that cause harm to the local ecosystem and beyond as they work their way towards the Gulf of Mexico. 

In addition to sequestering carbon, our rotationally grazed pastures also capture nutrients and water within the soil, helping them remain healthy even in dry conditions.

The lush green grass on our pastures also acts as a cooling blanket that reduces moisture from escaping, even on a hot sunny day!

Creating a Natural Habitat

Not only do our pastures provide a great home for our cows, but they also provide a natural habitat for a ton of other species! Our pastures are never treated with chemical pesticides or herbicides, and we welcome the growth of native plants as a way to create a safe habitat for many species.

Whether it's monarch butterflies taking advantage of the milkweed in our pastures, to pollinators enjoying their favorite plants, or even birds laying nests in protected nooks within the vegetation, our pastures are full of life and buzzing with activity! 

This type of natural habitat is only created through careful rotational grazing that allows plants & grasses to recover throughout the season and come back stronger each year.

Our thriving, healthy fields are a sanctuary for tons of birds, bugs, and other animals, and our cows are happy to have the company as they graze through the green pasture!

It's Better for The Cows!

The health & well-being of our cows is extremely important to us, which is why we raise them on pasture where they have plenty of room to roam and plenty of healthy grass to enjoy. 

Cows raised on conventional and even organic feedlots are often fed things like rotten fruit & veggies, distiller grains (waste from ethanol plants), and sometimes much worse. These foods aren't healthy or natural for the cows to eat and neither is the stressful, crowded feedlot environment where they spend their time. 

Having so many cows kept in close confinement leads to a reliance on antibiotics and pesticides.

Our rotational grazing methods and lush green pastures make for happy, healthy cows and the most delicious, ethically raised beef you've ever tasted! 

Insights from Farmer Craig

Craig raises beef for TC Farm in Southeast, Minnesota. He's grown up around farming and started focusing in on rotational grazing methods in the mid-90's. 

For Craig, one of the most rewarding aspects of rotational grazing is how healthy pastures are able to soak up excess rainwater and hold onto it through a dry season. He's noticed that many conventional farms in his area are visibly struggling with the drought, but his fields are still retaining moisture from the spring. While we all have our fingers crossed for more rain this summer, we are grateful that Craig's rotational grazing methods have created healthy pastures that can tolerate a drier season! 

Craig’s commitment to rotational grazing means his expenses are much higher than most beef farmers. Rotational grazing requires more fencing and hands-on management to move the cows through pasture. As with other areas of the economy, Craig's expenses have increased drastically in recent years. Calf prices have increased dramatically, diesel prices have nearly doubled, and mineral and salt prices are also up. He is able to grow his own feed right on the farm where his cows graze, which helps him avoid having to buy expensive hay during a drought and helps him break even on expenses.

While many other farms use shortcuts to save money, Craig remains committed to farming sustainably and rotationally grazing his cows.

Sustainable farming methods like Craig's can only succeed when consumers (like TC Farm members!) are willing to pay a fair price for the food and the extra time, effort and money that goes into raising it sustainably.

By sourcing your meat through TC Farm, you are supporting local farmers who are raising food sustainably and making a positive impact on the environment!

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