Success Story - Ron Freeman; Grass-Fed Beef Operation
Illinois Success Story
Grazing Makes Good $ense
Ron Freeman; Grass-Fed Beef Operation
By: Name, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist
Date: Month 2010
Meet A Central IL Cowboy
Grazier Ron Freeman took rolling land in Morgan County, Illinois his Father had
raised crops on for decades and converted it into a high quality pasture that
supports his profitable grass-fed beef operation.
Using his network of grazing friends from out West, his own innovative and
curious tendencies, good old fashioned research and common sense, Ron has become
a Grazier extraordinaire in an area some folks might call an unlikely
NRCS Partner, EQIP Supporter
Ron also took advantage of the assistance and support of his local friends at
the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Environmental
Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which offers both technical and financial
assistance to livestock operators of all kinds—including those interested in
pursuing a Grazing Management System.
After a number of years Ron’s operation is well established, fully functional
and profitable. His pastures are healthy, full of quality forages, and his herds
are healthy and happy the natural way. By managing his grasses and letting the
cows do the work, Ron has achieved the ideal life for a cowboy in Illinois.
With a good rotational grazing management process in place and working well, he
has created a beautiful and scenic landscape. The Freeman ranch is secure in its
economic markets, its resources are protected against erosion, and because the
operation is sustainable, he has plenty of time to pursue other interests,
adventures, and hobbies that give him the cowboy lifestyle he’s always craved!
According to Illinois’ NRCS Grazing Specialist Roger Staff, Freeman is a good
grazing model to follow and he has an ability--and a great deal--to teach
Both Freeman and Staff encourage new and existing operators to tap into other
experienced grazers, state and local partners, Grazing Lands Conservation
Initiative (GLCI) representatives and University of Illinois Extension staff.
Each can offer experience, good ideas, and assistance to help grazers find
solutions and success.
Listen, Respond to Pastures
One of the lesser-known benefits of a natural grazing environment is that much
of the maintenance, details and work for the herd are taken care of naturally
Freeman says “Once you get things in order and get your fencing, watering
facilities and such in place, you just maintain order. Establishing the system
can be labor intensive initially, but once you’re up and running, you reap the
benefits of creating a fairly self-sufficient machine. And that leaves time on
your hands—something every cowboy needs plenty of,” explains Freeman.
“You don’t want to be consumed by work. If you are, you will be unable to listen
and respond to your pastures.”
If you need more information about grazing and programs, contact the NRCS
District Conservationist at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the
telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture), or contact your local soil
and water conservation district. Information also is available on the web at:
Producer Profile Freeman (PDF, 781 kb)