Mark your calendars for the Summer Grazing Tour scheduled for June 19 in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. Sponsors are the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition and the Society for Range Management-Nebraska Section.
The tour will involve three long standing Sandhills ranches: the Abbott Ranch (part of Rex Ranches), southwest of Ashby, NE; the Tippet-Myers Ranch north of Lewellen; and the Blue Creek Ranch, north of Oshkosh.
The Abbott Ranch, managed by Kory Mack, is part of several ranches in the Sandhills of Nebraska which have been combined under ownership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to establish Rex Ranch. These ranches are now operated as 5 units. These units are Rex Unit, purchased in 1990, Joy Unit, purchased later in 1990, Abbott Unit in 1991, and Eldred and Pawlet Units, purchased in 2004. The primary management philosophy employed at Rex Ranch is a systems or holistic management approach.
Systems management recognizes that systems are complete wholes and not individual parts. Rex Ranch uses time controlled grazing and animal impact as environmentally friendly tools for improving the land. Selecting cattle to fit the environment is used to reduce cost while maintaining high levels of performance. Decisions of the ranch are based on the Mission Statement: To maximize long term profit while enhancing the land, livestock and human resources.
The Tippetts-Myers Ranch was started as a homestead by Polly Tippetts in 1909. After 4 years she was finally able to "prove up." The ranch has evolved to house the 5th, 6th and 7th generations of the family. Current owners/ managers, Lynn and Marlene Myers, manage a commercial cow/calf herd consisting of Hereford and Hereford/ Angus cattle using carefully selected genetics to make the cow herd fit the environment, have easy fleshing ability, and produce high quality boxed beef.
The Tippetts-Myers Ranch uses a 3-year, deferred rotational grazing plan to maximize grass production with a sustainable system in a semi-arid environment. The system started in 1985 and has been flexible enough to fit various weather conditions resulting in increased variety, vigor, and quality of native grasses 27 years later. Lynn and Marlene Myers manage by the following statement: "Ranchers practice good stewardship because they are the original environmentalists — people need to realize that ranchers take good care of the ground, because we live here."
The Blue Creek Ranch was purchased by the Turner family in 2000. Alan Oborny was hired as ranch manager along with his wife, Sheila, as office manager in September of 2005, transitioning from 21 years of operating a family farm and ranch in western Kansas to the management of Blue Creek Ranch for Turner Enterprises, Inc.
The ranch is operated as a bison production cow/calf operation. Blue Creek Ranch retains each year's calf crop and markets those animals as long yearlings. A rotational grazing program is practiced throughout the ranch in order to best utilize the native rangeland.
The majority of the ranch is comprised of Sandhills rangeland, with the unique feature of being divided on the southern half of the ranch by several miles of Blue Creek. Blue Creek is a spring-fed Sandhills stream and is fed along with numerous other springs by Gusher Springs. Gusher Springs has a measured flow of 3750 gal/min. It is believed to be the second largest spring in Nebraska.
The tour is free, however, preregistration is required for meal counts. Contact Ron Bolze, NGLC Coordinator or by June 11. His cell number is 402-321-0067 and email address is [email protected].