Our primary goal at Lone Mountain is to create the best possible genetics of American-raised Wagyu; we aspire to be a leader in this field. By focusing on genetics, our long-range goal is to establish a Fullblood Wagyu breeding herd of 150-300 breeding cows. We intend to adhere to sustainable ranching practices to become a model of sustainability.
Life at the ranch
To give you an idea about the specific issues at play on a New Mexico ranch like Lone Mountain, we'd like to tell you about our grazing methods.
The cattle at Lone Mountain have always been raised in a "free range fashion," in pastures ranging in area from 64 to 1000 acres. In the pastures, water is provided at drinkers filled by wind-powered old-fashioned windmills. While solar powered electric fences surround some of the pastures, the others are surrounded by traditional barbed wire.
Lone Mountain is located in the high desert where each cow/calf pair (rule of thumb) needs anywhere from 100 to 150 acres of non-irrigated pasture for comfortable and growth-oriented grazing. One section of the ranch contains a 64-acre circle of irrigated pasture, an intensive grazing area, watered by a pivot sprinkler system (called "The Farm"). It provides enough forage for 65-100 pairs for six months. Alfalfa hay is purchased from local farmers in enough quantity to feed the cattle during the six months of the year that the farm is dormant.
The farm is planted with three different species of prairie grasses, including: red clover, fescue and orchard grass. The intensive grazing practiced at Lone Mountain is patterned after the system advocated by Alan Savory. Savory's system is usually based on smaller rectangular pastures, moving cattle from one pasture to another after only a day or two, when the cattle have eaten the grass down to a manageable level, e.g.: not down to the roots. After 8 days, when the grass has had a chance to rejuvenate, the cattle are put back in the section of the pasture to graze.
We wondered how we would fare with a series of pie-shaped pastures - so Stan, LMCC ranch manager, developed a plan that would cut the circle into four equal parts. Then he put up electric fencing, taught the cows to obey the wire, and put an alleyway to the water drinker accessible from all 4 parts, keeping them out of the three pastures that were still recovering from recent grazing. Every other morning, the gate to the new pasture was opened. Then we cut the pastures in half again. Now there are eight pastures (each about 8 acres) and every morning the gate is changed. This works even better.