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Does Holistic Management work?

Ross and Kelly McGarva hosting a Holistic Management workshop on September 3 at their ranch in Likely, California. The McGarva family has been practicing Holistic Management for 14 years. They are partnering with Abbey and Spencer Smith to offer this workshop.
The Smiths are leaders of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, an accredited Savory Global Network hub serving Northern California and Nevada. They completed Holistic Management training in Colorado and Zimbabwe with Allan Savory and other long-time Holistic Management educators. They holistically manage their family’s certified organic ranch and offer courses, consulting and other programs across the region.
The workshop is from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, September 3. Attendees will meet at the South Fork Events Center (formerly the Likely School). The morning session covers the principles of Holistic Management and how to use the planning procedures, tools and decision making processes to significantly increase forage production.

Holistic Management data

“We are excited to share the simple yet effective tools of Holistic Management with our community,” said Kelly McGarva. “It has made all the difference in our management practices and the results can be seen on the land.”
The McGarvas transitioned 3,000 acres of irrigated ground from a traditional cow/calf commodity production to certified organic and began practicing Holistic Management.  Holistic planned grazing has effectively doubled the carrying capacity on 2,500 acres (500 subleased out).
Historically, the base property supported 1,000 mother cows. Grazing permits were utilized from April through September while irrigated meadows were hayed for winter feed.
The McGarvas now graze 3,500 cattle and 450 head of goats from May through Oct and meadows are rested through the winter. All forage is harvested by grazing. There is no haying.  Their operating costs per animal unit were reduced by more than 60 percent.
Kelly McGarva said that some of the non-numeric benefits they are experiencing are:  greater plant diversity in our pastures with dramatic reduction in invasive weeds, above average gains on some classes of cattle, higher conception rates, improved water cycles, less irrigation water required, severe reduction in mosquito population, increased waterfowl and wildlife numbers, and winters off from heavy ranch work.
The Smiths recently began managing holistically in Fort Bidwell and saw a 40  percent increase in available forage in the first year. They work with Michigan State University (MSU), who like the Smiths, serves as a Savory Global Network hub.
Dr. Jason Rowntree, the MSU hub leader, recently reported that:

“Because of management, when [Holistic Management] was implemented in 2009 we were managing at 74 stock days per acre, spent 142 days grazing with 190 pairs/yearlings.  Now in 2015, we are running 110 stock days per acre, a 33 percent increase while grazing 50 days later into the year.”
For the Smiths and MSU, as well as other holistic managers, the results are due to changes in management. The improved results do not require expensive inputs that eat away at ranch profit.

Holistic Management event details

A   ranch-style lunch hosted at the McGarva Ranch, breakfast snacks, coffee, tea and water are provided to attendees. The afternoon session includes pasture walks at the McGarva Ranch and a discussion of their management decisions and results.
Attendees are encouraged to bring the whole family.

“We love having kids and whole families at our events,” said Abbey Smith, “for us, the family ranching lifestyle is what matters most.”
Local producers, and others curious about holistic management, can join the McGarvas and Smiths on September 3 from 9 am to 4 pm. Attendees will meet at the South Fork Events Center shortly before 9 am. They are encouraged to wear outdoor apparel suitable for field walks, including a hat and a water bottle.

Register

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Registrations online are encouraged so the hosts can prepare meals and other accommodations for attendees. For more information or questions, please call Spencer Smith: 775-221-6793 or email at spencer at jeffersonhub dot com.