Reducing Our Impact: what it is, why we do it

At Meadow Brook Farms, we are committed to achieving the balance between sustainable farm production and the protection of our natural resources. We use rotational grazing and good manure management -- two conservation practices that help us attain this balance.

Rotational grazing is a natural, sustainable system that balances animal production needs with grassland capability. It is a delicate system where we move cattle in and out of pastures based on grass height. Once a pasture is grazed low, we move our cattle into the next pasture, so that we maintain good grass cover at all times. Maintaining good grass cover has many environmental benefits, which include reduced soil erosion, improved soil quality and soil structure, improved water quality, and will even enhance air quality.

To use rotational grazing, you have to have a stable area to confine the cattle during the winter, times of drought or heavy rain, when grass is not actively growing or when pastures are unfit for the cattle. Not all farmers do this, however at Meadow Brook Farms, we installed a concrete barnyard where we use dry bedding for the animals’ comfort. Cattle are fed farm-grown hay until the pastures are suitable for grazing. We have gone to this extra effort in order to prevent negative side effects of barnyard manure and runoff to local water sources while providing a clean comfortable dry space for the animals.

Barnyard manure and runoff is collected and stored, preventing manure from contaminating local groundwater and surface water. Having adequate manure storage allows us to time manure spreading to when the crops are actively taking up nutrients, reducing the potential for manure nutrient leaching and runoff.

A rotational grazing system can also protect environmentally sensitive areas, such as stream and riparian areas. Because we only allow cattle into the riparian area for a few hours several times a month, we can protect the stream bank from accelerated erosion and prevent excess nutrients from entering the stream. Meadow Brook Farms is in the Cooks Creek Watershed, which has been designated an Exceptional Value (EV) Watershed, the highest water quality rating. We hope that by having a holistic approach to beef production, we may preserve both the productivity of our family farm and the health of the environment.