Muddy Ranch is currently in the process of building its own cow herd. In the fall of 2016, the ranch purchased 40 head of straight angus heifers. From this group we are continuing our cow herd. In 2017 Redside Livestock was established with a mission to help Young Life regenerate their rangeland and bring stable cattle numbers each year. Both Muddy Ranch and Redside Livestock have the same long term vision of seeing a healthier, more abundant landscape.
Since 2013 we've built 102 miles of fence creating 45 pastures and installed over 30 off stream water developments to help us manage how the cattle graze. Recently we have had the opportunity to fence off many of the lower Muddy Creek and John Day River riparian areas that experience heavy livestock use during late winter calving. We're excited about increasing our bird and wildlife habitat along these waterways.
We feel that the range has responded very well to short periods of intense grazing followed by long periods of rest. Practicing Holistic Management and closely planning out our grazing calendar has allowed us to increase our annual AUM's (Animal Unit Month). Each year we continue to grow more forage and reach a regenerative carrying capacity which requires us to constantly assess the number of livestock that live of the ranch.
As we continue to bring back the ranch into production we have built many new improvements. Prior to 2012 the ranch only had one small working corral on the northwest corner. Since then, we have built a cow barn that serves as the headquarters for processing cattle, calving heifers, treating sick cattle, feeding bummer calves and keeping our saddle horses.
In 2015 we built a large working corral that is strategically located in the center of the ranch to be used for spring and fall cow work. We are currently working on building a backgrounding lot, more small corrals and load outs throughout the ranch. This will help accommodate our ever-changing pasture rotation and efficiency throughout the ranch.
In 2017 we began selling all natural, hormone and antibiotic free grass finished beef. All of our cattle are born on the ranch and raised with their mothers out on the range eating native grasses. After our calves are weaned from their mothers in the fall we hold them in our pasture based weaning facilities to be able to closely monitor their health while they learn to live without their mother. Weaning is a process that must be done for the sake of the cow. If the calf is left on the cow for too long her body condition can become negatively impacted due to the strains of producing milk for too long. Cows need to be in good body condition to grow their next calf and be in healthy flesh for the upcoming cold winter.
The grass finished steers eat preserved hay during the dormant winter growing season and spend the summer on irrigated pasture until they reach their harvest weight. We are currently in the process of becoming a ranch that is certified to raise Non-GMO, Age and Source Verified, Non-Hormonal Treated Cattle, and GAP Step 4 beef. These product attritubes are verified and audited by a third party company called IMI Global.
We currently farm 175 acres of canyon bottoms cut out by creeks and the John Day River. Our fields are spread out over 10 miles, utilizing water off of two reservoirs and the John Day River. Over the past seven years we have brought 14 fields back into production and have more acreage to bring online in the years to come. We produce alfalfa, orchard grass, and triticale hay which we feed to cows on the ranch as well as sell to neighbors for their livestock needs. We also graze some of our hay fields during the summer and winter. We rotate livestock quickly to help promote grass and soil health by cycling nutrients back into the soil to feed the microbes that create healthy soil and pastures.
The main purpose of our farming operation is to improve the wildlife value of our ranch while also generating revenue. Alfalfa is used as a great draw for elk, deer, and upland birds. We strive to farm in a wildlife friendly manner by cutting our fields during daylight hours as well as utilizing a flushing bar on our swather to flush birds and fawns away from our cutting edge to reduce accidental wildlife deaths. We also use a no-till drill to limit soil disturbance when rotating between crops. This practice minimizes the amount of bare ground, top soil loss and soil disturbance.
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