Day Break Ranch, Highmore, South Dakota (Beef Cattle Ranch)
Jim and Carol Faulstich have a long history of ranching and stewardship. For over 30 years, they have been active in conservation issues from local groups such as 4-H Livestock Committee and the Hyde County Weed Board, conservation districts to state and national groups such as the NRCS State Technical Committee, the Conservation Security Program Sub-Committee and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.
NRCS, the SD Cattlemen’s Association and others submitted the Faulstichs as South Dakota’s nomination for the 2006 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Environmental Stewardship Award.
The Faulstichs manage several thousand acres of grassland in Hyde County, South Dakota with approximately 350 cow/calf pairs. They also no-till farm about 800 acres of corn, sunflowers, and oats or wheat, and about 500 acres of hayland. In addition, they operate a hunting enterprise and also custom graze yearling heifers.
The Faulstichs’ goal: “We want to run a profitable ranch with longevity built into it in order to survive for future generations, to use and benefit from available resources while improving them at the same time.” Using cattle to convert forage into top quality beef is a tool used to accomplish this. Their goal has not changed but their approach to accomplish it has. As an example, they have shifted some of their priorities to better pasture management and put more emphasis on convenient traits and efficiency versus total pounds sold. One of the keystones of the Daybreak Ranch is management intensive grazing. As Jim puts it, “The key is intensive management, not necessarily intensive grazing.”
Jim has played an integral part in making the South Dakota Grassland Coalition (SDGLC) a strong non-profit organization and an active producer-led conservation group focusing on voluntary improvement of privately owned grassland. The group focuses the collective power of resource management agencies, producer organizations, educational institutions, professional societies, environmental organizations, and private grassland managers toward providing grassland managers better service and education. The SDGLC has received recognition:
2007 Excellence in Conservation Award presented in May 2007 by Chief Lancaster. EPA Environmental Achievement Award Recipient, Region 8 – presented May 2007 for outstanding leadership in providing livestock producers information and technical assistance necessary for them to voluntarily adopt grazing practices which reduced non-point source pollution.
The Faulstichs offered their ranch as a demonstration project and initiated a grazing management on-ranch demonstration in 2000 as part of the SD Grassland Management and Planning project. They were the first participant, and continued their leadership. The Faulstich family manages a 21-pasture grazing system on native rangeland. To implement the grazing system, the Faulstich's worked with NRCS and others to install a water system consisting of an above ground pipeline and tanks and one-wire electric fences which have been left in place. In 2001, additional pipe was installed on the system and adjustments made to the pasture fences to reduce use of the pond as a livestock drinking source and protect the ponds shoreline and tailwater riparian areas. The pond in the pasture is viewed by the ranch as primarily a wildlife area with livestock water provided by an artesian well and rural water system. During 2002 water in all paddocks was supplied via pipeline.
The Faulstichs have done extensive monitoring and evaluation to help in making decisions for maximizing the health of their resources. They keep records on economics, animal performance, climate, vegetative conditions, wildlife, and water quality. This data has been shared with producers and resource professionals as the "Daybreak Ranch" started hosting field days in 2000 and continues through this year.