About 10 years ago, Ryan Boyd came to his father Jim with some new ideas, and Jim knew it was time to listen. Ryan talked about a new strategy, adopting regenerative and sustainable approaches in order to enhance their productivity.
“Dad was more than willing to try something else,” Ryan says. “He’d always believed the best way to improve the business was by acquiring more acres, spreading out the overheads, and just working harder. But now he was beginning to get burned out.”
He began to use a combination of the annual forages and perennial pastures for intensive grazing, using higher stock densities, and grazing for shorter periods, then moving the cattle daily to allow long periods of rest and regrowth.
Recently he has extended grazing into fall and winter by grazing corn, and he has integrated a 15-species, annual polycrop to provide green feed and extended grazing. The cumulative impact of these systems has improved soil quality, increased productivity on the same acres, and led to better cattle health.
But there are other reasons why the Boyds chose the farming life that have nothing to do with dollars and cents, and why Ryan doesn’t see the point in getting too competitive over land.
“A big reason that we are farming is community, and I don’t want to base my success on taking over the neighbours’ land,” he says.