Cattle Ranchers: Committed to a Healthy Environment

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Farmers and ranchers consider themselves the original environmentalists. Their livelihood depends on the long-term health of their land and natural resources. Identifying and using practices that preserve and use these resources responsibly is a necessity for the long term sustainability of the beef industry.

Caring for the Open Range

It was quite interesting driving to the cow/calf operation we visited in Nebraska. The scenery changed quickly from flat land to very hilly. The Minert-Simonson ranch is located in a geographic area known as the Sand Hills. The Sand Hills are a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes. Due to the sandy soil, there isn’t much crop production that goes on here, but these grasslands are perfect  rangeland for cattle. They contain short-grass, mixed-grass and tall-grass varieties and these grasses and other plants help stabilize the sand dunes.

The ranchers are committed to good land management and so they employ grazing practices that have led to less erosion of the Sand Hills. That partially involves moving the cattle from pasture to pasture so the grasses and plants have ample time for regrowth.

Improving Water Quality and Use

Cattle, obviously, require water, but ranchers recognize that everyone plays a role in water conservation. Cattle ranchers reuse or recycle water by collecting rainfall or using wells in order to use less water and make sure that the environment is sustainable for future generations.

In the Nebraska Sand Hills they have one unique aspect and that is that it is resting on one of the largest aquifers in the world. The Ogallala Aquifer lies under almost the entire state of Nebraska! Under the Sand Hills the Aquifer is actually pretty shallow, so they don’t have to dig terribly deep to get water.

In this area windmill pumps are used quite a bit to get water in the troughs. Of course water out is one thing…but how does it get replenished?

You can see that at the Minert-Simonson ranch, they have built their troughs with an over-flow pipe. Whenever the water exceeds the level of the trough it will flow right back down into the ground, so there is a continual cycle happening here of giving back to the land. I got to try some of this water from the pump, and it was incredibly clear and fresh.

Water quality is not only important to the environment, but to the health of the cattle as well. To ensure that the cattle have constant access to clean water, they have a third party conduct independent water quality tests.

I’ll discuss more about cattle raising and the environment when I blog about the other half of my tour to the feedyard. But if you have any questions or comments about ranchers and the environment, feel free to leave a comment below.

I was taken on a tour sponsored by the Beef Checkoff with a group of influencers and experts to get a first hand look at where consumer’s beef comes from.  All expenses were paid, however all opinions in the posts are my own and were not swayed by that.

4 thoughts on “Cattle Ranchers: Committed to a Healthy Environment


  2. Thank you so very much for posting all this wonderful information about cattle ranchers and ranches. I love hearing about tried and true American industries.

  3. Wow that must have been a fun trip! I didn't realize the importance of clean water for cattle. This must have all been really eye-opening!

  4. Excellent overview, it pointed out to me something I didn’t realize before. I'm encouraged that the ranchers are doing good work for the environment as well as for our beef. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

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