Jim Burrus - The Quiet Graizer
In 1946 Jim Burrus’ father, Loren, owned 191 acres in Morgan County. The farm and homestead, located just north of Jacksonville, Illinois had corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock—cows, hogs, and chickens—typical for family farms back then. Like many Illinois farms, the land had steep slopes, but Loren was committed to keeping steep ground in pasture. “Keeping those slopes in grass protects against erosion. That concept holds true on these acres even today,” says Jim. “I have many acres that have never been anything but pasture.” Read More...[PDF]
Dan Dietrich - New Farmer; Old Ways
Dan & Erin Dietrich run a grass-fed beef and custom grazing operation in Mt. Morris, IL. Dan’s Grandparents Russell and Cora bought the property in 1947 and added an adjoining 60-acre farm in the 1960’s and bought another 215-acre farm during the 1970’s. All three farms connect. Dan’s Father and Grandfather are retired livestock producers who raised crops for livestock feed. Today Dan’s father still farms, growing corn and soybeans, but he left the livestock to Dan. In 2009, after a little persuading, Dan seeded down grass on 100 acres of previously cropped land between the farm’s permanent pasture and wooded areas on all three farms. He’s created a 200-acre sustainable, rotational grazing cell which he now rents. Read more...[PDF]
Kevin Lund - Illinois Veteran Becomes Grass Farmer
Kevin Lund grew up in Western Kentucky and got a vocational degree in Mechanical Drafting. He tried college out a bit, but decided quickly it wasn’t for him. He moved to Montana in 1994, worked at Yellowstone Nat’l Park for 13 years but in 2000, he joined the US Navy Reserves. Lund served 11 years and became a decorated member of the Navel Mobile Construction Battalion. They call them “C.B.’s” for short, or the heterograph “SeaBees” because these soldiers tend to be some of the busiest, most talented, innovative, and critical members of their military team. Kevin ended his military career after serving two tours during the Iraq-Afghanistan wars. His role was a dangerous one that left him facing a battle all his own with challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Read more...[PDF]
2017 Illinois Grazier Profiles
Tim Glasco runs the Triple G Ranch with his wife, father, daughter, and son-in-law. They own 575 acres in Union County. The ground is rolling, has steep slopes, and about 150 wooded acres with a creek running through it. Tim’s father Keith bought the land in 1964 and farmed typical row crops--corn, beans, and wheat. A few cows and hogs were included in the operation. Keith followed family tradition, farming with conventional tillage methods of the times. Erosion and gullies were a common problem, but that was part of farming rolling ground in Southern Illinois. When Tim took over, he farmed the land similarly, although he began using no-till techniques in the 1970’s and 1980’s to protect the soil. Unfortunately, by then, erosion wash outs and gullies were severe. Dry conditions didn’t help. The 1983 drought hurt many Illinois farmers and that year, the Glasco farm nearly went broke. Read more...[PDF]
Judy & Steve Hoepkerweren’t farmers. They ran a successful trucking business and had ten acres that were growing weeds and low- grade hay for neighbors. But they made a few big decisions that placed them in a new lifestyle, a new and profitable niche-market, and a whole new world of livestock management and grazing. Fast-forward to the Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch (ROAR Fibers) of Anna, Illinois, where this family breeds, cares for, and now grazes 20 head of alpaca and several goats on their newly established rotational grazing operation. Call them rookies or entrepreneurs, but they jumped into a new line of work with a vision to create natural-made products using a sustainable process. They decided early on they wanted to do it right. They hooked up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office where they found a lot of the help they needed. Read more...[PDF]
Ted Krauskopf has 200 acres in Highland, Illinois. He has a regular day job and career, which he rather likes. So why are grazing technology researchers and corporations testing special crops, conducting high tech research and new tools on what Ted does in his ‘spare’ time? He’s building something impressive with his grass, cows, and his soil. Krauskopf stopped growing row crops, planted all his tillable ground in grasses, and got into the livestock business in 2007. He now runs a mixed herd of Registered Angus and some crossbred commercial cows. He is a cooperator with a seed stock producer and sells back registered calves after weaning. Read more...[PDF]
2016 Illinois Grazier Profiles
Travis Stockstill with his wife and son, live on their 95-acre farm in Montgomery County. Before they purchased the farm, 40 acres had been tilled for 20 years and the rest was in pasture. After the Stockstills lived there for 13 years, the farm saw many changes. Travis has converted most of the cropped land to pasture. He raises goats for meat and markets them through local resources. He also houses five Limousine and red Angus heifers for breeding for his parents during the winter and raises replacement heifers in the summer.
Travis worked with NRCS and received financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to address most improvements on his farm. He also entered into a contract under NRCS’ Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to focus on private forestland improvements on 15 wooded acres. Read more...[PDF]
Patty Winheimbought a farm in Johnson County five years ago. The land includes 19 grazing acres and two ponds, a homestead, and a wooded wildlife refuge. A smaller pond, located in the middle of the fields, is fenced off from livestock and a larger pond sits closer to the house and lies adjacent to the wildlife area.
Patty grazes six horses—five of which she raised since birth—and calls them her children. They are Spotted Walking Horses, a double registered–Tennessee Walking Horse & a Spotted Saddle Horse. Patty comes from a family with a tradition of raising and farming with horses, starting back in the 1800’s. Patty has been riding since she was two years old. Read more...[PDF]
Chris Smith farms about 700 acres in Morgan and Scott Counties with his father. Chris’s great grandfather purchased the farm back in 1888. Chris’s passion for raising cattle made him return to the farm after working with livestock throughout the country. He is glad to be back operating a 50-head beef cow/calf operation of Shorthorn purebred and commercial cows on several different pastures. He also grows about 400 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay in a sustainable, diverse no-till/strip-till operation.
Over the last few years, Chris introduced more cover crop species into his crop rotation, not only to improve soil health, but to provide an additional feed source for his cattle. Chris has also hosted several cover crop demos and field days in an effort to share what he has learned and what benefits conservation solutions and techniques truly offer. Read more...[PDF]
2015 Illinois Grazier Profiles
Elton Mau grazes 80 acres of various forage species as well as grazing several farmettes consisting of perennial forage in McLean County. On the 80 acres, Elton plants corn, wheat and soybeans, each on 15 acres with annuals and perennial grasses on the remaining acres. He grazes the entire acreage during the course of the year with on average 126 (Dorset with a Booroola gene) ewes and 160 lambs. After wheat harvest, he plants cool season annuals and grazes until November. He sells off lambs for meat in fall leaving only the ewes.
“I’ve improved three different farms or farmettes. Lost two of them to horses because they were such nice looking properties when I got done with them. I’ve taken ironweed that was over your head and made it into a nice clover pasture in the course of two or three years. Just with my sheep. I would hay it one time and graze it twice. So I hit that piece of property a few times over the course of a few years. It looked so nice they sold it to somebody else. You can only control so much.” Read more...[PDF]
Tony Snow and daughter Ashely Osborne, of Rocky Road Brown Swiss Dairy, graze 312 acres in Fayette County. The operation currently is at or near capacity with 300 total Brown Swiss dairy cows, 140 are freshened milk cows. All acres are in grass (except building lot areas), and the longest walk for the cows to any pasture is one-half mile. They no longer raise row crops; the last corn crop was in 2007. Water is supplied via 3 different ponds on the property and is pumped to the paddock where the cows are grazing.
“How can anything live when you gas them with anhydrous ammonia? Nothing. We let the worms do their job and it has improved the health of our soil. The rain filters down faster. When you have healthy soil you have healthy grass. When you have healthy grass you have healthy cows. If you let the earthworms come back, they are going to penetrate the soil further than any cover crop. Their castings will fertilize the soil and they are free –I like the word free!” Read more...[PDF]
Jim Draper grazes 30 Belted Galloway, Angus and Murray Gray cows with their offspring and 300 mature Katahdin ewes and 100 lambs on 390 acres in Bureau County. He sells directly to customers in Chicago and Moline. Draper has become a good source for lamb his customers are looking for; not grain fed, not overly fat. He plans to start marketing Murray Gray/Galloway cross in the future. He is currently transitioning to more pastureland and less cropland to reduce inputs, reduce harvesting, and let the animals do the work.
“I started reading this magazine and it turned my thinking around a little bit – a lot. I recognized the animal can do a lot of things we were doing for it. Plus the animal doesn’t require a manure spreader, a loader or back-breaking labor and extra help and all those other things. We used to have a large vet bill, not so much now. Since I went to grass fed, I don’t see a vet but maybe twice a year.” Read more...[PDF]
2014 Grazing Success Stories
Carzella Pritchett Goats, Cows, Sheep, and Chicken Operation
Sangamon County, Illinois
Carzella Pritchett owns and operates a 10-acre farm in Sangamon County, Illinois. A former horse farm, she purchased it in 2005. You could say it’s a hobby farm since Carzella works full-time for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). However, looking closer you can easily see this too is a full-time job with 5 cows, 13 goats, 13 sheep and 250 chickens. Read more...[PDF]
Jeff & Rita Glazik Cow and Organic Grain Operation
Ford County, Illinois
Jeff Glazik converted a 400-acre farm located near the start of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in Ford County, Illinois. He runs certified organic cropland and the rest of his operation is in pasture, natural areas and other conservation practices, including a number of trees. Read more...[PDF]
Ernie & Judy Duckworth Cows/Heifers/Angus/Boers Operation
Franklin County, Illinois
Ernie Duckworth, a Franklin County, Illinois farmer launched an experiment where livestock share paddocks in an intensive grazing system. He has 20 cows, along with 11 heifers in his Angus-Simmental herd. He now also has 31 head of Boer does along with one buck. Read more...[PDF]
Ron Freeman Grass-Fed Beef Operation, Morgan
Morgan County, Illinois
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. Read more...[PDF]
Dave Bishop Organic Cattle & Poultry Operation,
Logan County, Illinois
Of the new conservation options available in the new Farm Bill, one targets producers with organic operations and those ready to make the transition to organic. It also offers tremendous avenues for success for livestock operators who want to kick it up a notch to a complete grazing operation—one that is sustainable AND profitable. For Illinois producers like this, now is the time to visit with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office and start the process. Read more...[PDF]
David Surprenant Dairy Grazing Operation
Kankakee County, Illinois
For 60 years David Surprenant’s Father farmed 160-acres on a corn and soybean operationalong with a dairy near Manteno in northeastern Illinois. After his father passed away in 1992, Dave took over the operation. He soon realized they weren’t making enough to do more than make ends meet. After reading a magazine article about a grazing operation in the southeast United States, he decided it was time to do something completely different. It was at this point he first toyed with the idea of grazing his dairy cattle. In 1993 he planted his first 40-acre pasture and never looked back. Read more...[PDF]