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Kilmer Family Success Story

Stewards of the Land

By Robin Allen, District Conservationist in Lusk

Lusk Gov. Tour 010.jpg Fenced filed covered with snow

To say Bruce and Barb Kilmer, Niobrara County ranchers, are true stewards of the land is an understatement. In 2010, they were recognized by the Niobrara County Resource District and named “Producer of the Year.”

Their conservation efforts have spanned decades. The Kilmers have been working with NRCS for as long as anyone at the Lusk Field Office can remember.

Their ranching operation consists of 250 sheep, 100-120 cows, and about 100-125 yrl. stocker cattle.  “This livestock is supported by about 3600 deeded acres and 1000 acres rented pasture.  Along with the grazing land we harvest up to about 500 acres dry land hay depending on spring moisture,” Bruce said.  “We plan to continue to improve our grazing efficiency to increase livestock production along with maintaining the health of our forage and soil.”

 Over the past 10 years, NRCS has assisted the Kilmers with a grazing management plan by helping to convert their operation from dry land wheat farming to primarily a grazing operation. 

 “All of the wheat land has been planted with permanent cover grass alfalfa mix.  We have also been able to construct extensive pipelines and fencing that allow us flexibility and efficiency in our grazing rotation. Especially helpful has been the availability of stock water in areas that were previously unusable. We have also planted many windbreak trees around homesteads and along the edge of some fields,” Bruce said.

 Bruce and Barb have seen numerous benefits as a result of the conservation practices they have implemented. There is wildlife habitat for deer, antelope, elk, and wild turkeys.  Bruce said, “We are using livestock to harvest forage rather than fuel and labor intensive operations such as farming.” Also, soil erosion has been greatly reduced, he said.

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