Read Paul’s blog entry here, then find out how you can help Save the Cows!
Thursday night the Cow Fund presented a grazing plan to the Southborough Conservation Commission and Stewardship Committee. The grazing plan was worked out in conjunction with the Conservation Service of the USDA. The Cow Fund plan is not just about producing healthy grass-fed beef but also caring for the land and hopefully saving our children’s future. We are attempting to follow the holistic management system as developed by Allan Savory. Savory has been described by Joel Salatin (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/) of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Inc. as one of the greatest ecologists of our time (Ted Talk). Savory’s system is fairly simple. By feeding the soil life we can not only make resilient soils that can produce healthy food but we can also sequester carbon. The potential is there to globally put Giga tons worth of carbon stably back into the ground. His system relies on using large herbivores to mimic the large herds that built the deep soils of the savannah and the great plains. Plants are grazed and manure is deposited in small areas using modern electrified fencing systems. Then the animals, cows in our case, are moved to the next paddock and the grass just grazed is allowed to fully recover. The process of graze and regrow in addition to the manure, is crucial to feeding the soil micro-organisms. These soil microbes, bacteria and fungi, feed larger invertebrates and they in turn feed the birds and other wildlife. A biologically active soil can hold fertility much more efficiently than chemical fertilizers which are water soluble and will leach and runoff the property ending up polluting waterways.
This system only works if plants are allowed to fully recover and that has been the problem from the beginning. The pasture on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land has extremely thin soil, mostly on moderate slopes. When we get dry spells as we have for the past few summers the grass stops growing and in order to not over graze the pasture we feed the cattle hay. The Cow Fund does not have the resources to do this and it sometimes ends up the members finance the purchases. We must maintain a minimum size herd not just because a cow takes 3 years to reach a marketable size but also because the holistic grazing system requires a certain density of herbivore to feed the soil life. The Cow Fund board is unanimous in our position that if we do not have the proper resources to manage the herd correctly we will not continue to keep cattle on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. This is a very difficult decision but we feel it is right and it will certainly not stop us from doing this somewhere else.
Finally, we would like to thank all our long and short time supporters. We have met some great people both here in Southborough and in the greater community.
If you are concerned about the continuation of the cows and agriculture on Breakneck Hill then please consider attending the conservation meeting on April 2nd at 7PM in the Town House. Letters of support can be addressed to the conservation administrator Beth Rosenblum at email@example.com
Need more information? Want to find out more about our plan and how you can help? Follow this link: Save the Cows