e55. The Power of Observation and Adaptation with Leo Arnold

In this episode, Leo Arnold talks about his journey grazing corn stalks with Stocker cattle in southwest Nebraska. He discusses his educational experiences in the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship and working in New Zealand, as well as the invaluable lessons gained from the Greg Judy Advanced Grazing School. We also delve into the differences in pasture management between the East and West coasts of New Zealand, exploring the use of nitrogen and fertilizer, various farm types, and calf rearing techniques. Lastly, we discuss the benefits of attending Wally Olson’s marketing school, attending grazing schools, and the importance of record keeping for tracking progress and investment returns in agriculture.

Books/Resources Mentioned:

  • Proper Livestock Marketing 101 by Bud and Eunice Williams
  • Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified by Jody Padgham, Paul Dietmann, Craig Chase (Amazon) (Bookshop.org)

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These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text

0:00:00 – Cal Hardage
Welcome to the Grazing Grass podcast, episode 55.

0:00:04 – Leo Arnold
You have to have enough knowledge to be able to ask the question, so people who know what they’re doing can answer for you.

0:00:12 – Cal Hardage
You’re listening to the Grazing Grass podcast, helping grass farmers, learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer and their operation. I’m your host, cal Hardiche. On today’s episode we talked to Leo Arnold about his journey to southwest Nebraska where he’s grazing corn stocks with Stocker cattle. Now We talk about his journey to get there, educational opportunities he’s had and grazing corn stocks. But before we talk to Leo, let’s do 10 seconds about my farm. We’re actually not going to talk about my farm too much because I just got home last weekend from the Greg Judy Advanced Grazing School with Ian Mitchell Enos. It was a wonderful school.

I really enjoyed it and my dad asked me a very good question when I got home. He says was it worth the money? To be honest, i can’t really say that. I learned that much new stuff and stuff I’ve been exposed to. But just like a pencil, we get dull over time and we need sharpened. So it’s that sharpening of our tools so we become better. So I did come home with some action items for myself. I really have not been pushing daily rotations just because of time constraints with my off the farm job. So I did buy a teeter farm tech automatic gate that I’m on try. We’ll see how it goes And I’m going to try and move my cows more often, whether that’s daily or two days, three days, more often than what I’m doing right now.

And also it was great to see Greg’s animals, see how they act, see what they’re doing and to look around. It was nice to be able to really visualize his place. I’ve read his books and seen it, so it was a really good program. A great thing was I got to connect with some listeners out there, which is always wonderful. I’m always amazed anybody listens to me, so thank you for listening. And then got to meet other people and their journeys, and that’s probably one of the biggest points or positive things about it is these connections you make of other people on their own journeys that we can keep in touch with and see how things are going.

Also, the food was excellent. This is, all in all, very good school networking opportunity, eating time. Will I go next year? I don’t know, maybe. I do think there’s lots of value to sharpening your tool and getting refreshed on what you’re doing. Anyway, enough about that. Let’s talk to Leo. Leo, we want to welcome you to the Grazing Grass podcast. We’re excited to have you on. Hello Cal. Thank you for having me. Leo, can you tell us a little bit about you and your operation?

0:03:18 – Leo Arnold
Sure, i’m in the southwest Nebraska, near Wallace Nebraska, south of I-80, about 40 miles. We are a stalker cattle enterprise. We trade cattle in the winter and then we put them out to pasture during the summer and sell them June and September, normally during the summer. I grew up in central Illinois near Springfield, right on the air bluffs. There My family had a small farm and we have been rotational grazing since 1990 when they bought the farm. I grew up doing rotational grazing on just a couple hundred acres pasture we had there. Dad had a job off farm. We all worked in the maintenance company that he had. I really liked working with livestock so I worked for half the county on every livestock operation. I remember one year I think I got 12 W2s from different people I worked for. I got quite a bit of experience on a lot of different operations Very well run feed lots to poorly run feed lots. To very well run grazing farms to not so well run grazing farms.

Then, after I graduated high school, i went into the dairy grazing apprenticeship and I did my apprenticeship near Wasaw, wisconsin. We milked about 240 cows and obviously they were out on pasture there. That program is a Department of Labor approved apprenticeship. So when you graduate you are adjourning in a dairy farmer. So it’s very similar to the union programs. There’s 4,000 hours spread out over two years that do that on and it’s on farm and classroom hours. Now most of the classes are online. I think they’re spread out six or seven states across the eastern part of the US. It was a very good program. You learn how to operate a dairy, but you also learn the ground on the marketing and the finances and all that. You had all the resources you needed. It is an excellent spot to get started either if you want to milk cows, which is, in my opinion, very fun, very good base for your knowledge to get started.

So after I finished that, i actually got a job in New Zealand for a season raising calves and it was very beneficial to have gone through the apprenticeship. With the apprenticeship It allowed my employers in New Zealand to look up, through the Department of Labor, what I was qualified to do so they could look and see. You know, yes, he knows how to raise calves, this, this, this, and So it gave me a lot of opportunities going there to get a very good job on a very nice dairy down there and worked down there for about seven months in the Canterbury Plains And while I was there I worked on our go and visit as many dairy farms and grazing farms as I could Some time on a sheep and goat beef cattle operation while I was there And that was interesting to see how that went. Then when I came back to the US, i came up with a plan to start a cattle business in Illinois on my parents’ land and rent some more pasture there And my goal there was to run cattle there three to five years, build up a financial record so that I could use that to rent a larger spot.

I was looking at Southwest Missouri at that point. So when I came back I did that. I continued to travel and work. I worked in South America for a month or two And I was running the operation in Illinois. I did that for about three years And then last spring I was offered this opportunity to come out to a ranch here in Western Nebraska to potentially take over the operation after a trial period. So I kind of finished out, you know, after running the numbers and looking around I finished out my grazing contracts and my land leases in Illinois And I closed down the grazing business in Illinois and moved here in November, so now I’m here in Western Nebraska And we started grazing corn stocks in December.

0:08:22 – Cal Hardage
Sounds like you have a wide variety of experience that will serve you well.

0:08:27 – Leo Arnold
Somewhere in there I had a sheep flock as well.

0:08:30 – Cal Hardage
Oh yes, Got all the bases covered. A few goats I’ve tried about it. Yeah, I can’t. So as long as you’re moving towards that angle, it’s going good, right.

0:08:40 – Leo Arnold
Exactly. You don’t have to go in a straight line just as long as you’re going in the vague direction.

0:08:45 – Cal Hardage
You know, I like to tell people progress is progress, no matter how small. Exactly, Some days I don’t make a lot, but I’m working that way. Some days I go backwards. Well, you know, if we want to be honest, we all do It’s art up. Now let’s jump back to your DGA, your dairy grazing apprenticeship. How did you find out about that program? How did you get hooked up with it? How would someone interested in it find out more info?

0:09:16 – Leo Arnold
I had an uncle who was one of the founding directors, so that’s how I was introduced to it. If you’re interested in doing it, you get on their website and you can either fill out the application and you can call one of the educator coordinators and just talk to them of the program, what is going on. That’s what I did Just talk to them about it. They have a great website called dairygrazingapprenticeshipnet And, like I said, they cover pasture management, pasture seeding. They cover the whole nine yards. You put your application out there and then the masters look at it. The master farmers look it over and then they contact you. I think I looked at three different operations before I chose the one I did And, like anything, you want to work for someone you can learn something from. So that’s the very important make sure you work for the person that’s going to teach you the most.

0:10:19 – Cal Hardage
Oh yes, going through the dairy grazing apprenticeship brought you that New Zealand opportunity.

0:10:27 – Leo Arnold
Yes, Yes, It was a service that had reached out, an agency that finds workers to come to New Zealand to work because they have a worker shortage And they a lot of times hire students from Ireland normally. But they had reached out to the apprentice because they didn’t have enough students coming from Ireland. But it was cold in Wisconsin so I was looking for somewhere warm to milk cows.

I think that was 2017, 2018, when they had the polar vortex. Oh yes, i saw on the weather that it was snowing and blizzarding in Wisconsin. I would send them a picture of me milking cows in shorts and flip flops.

0:11:15 – Cal Hardage
That is great, so tell us a little bit about your experiences in New Zealand. Was there Anything that surprised you?

0:11:23 – Leo Arnold
so I worked on a 1200 cow dairy. Milking dairy was a seasonal operation. We had a 60 bale rotary that we milked the cows in. It was really interesting to see the amount of nitrogen and fertilizer that they used on their pastures. And you know it’s all under irrigation and it’s in this area, not all over New Zealand but in the Canterbury plains they use it’s all under irrigation pretty much and they use a substantial amount of fertilizer To grow the rye grass and white clover. It was really interesting. That was the mix that they had. There was the, it was a rye grass and white clover, mainly in the pastures. And you know I went to some.

There are Definitely some dairies that are doing it completely different, but kind of was the run of the mill experience. Now that was on the East shore of The South Island, kind of in the middle, and that’s the pretty typical dairy there. Now you go to the west coast of the South Island And it’s completely different. You know they have no irrigation, they get rain, you know 300 days a year and They jokingly say you can grow grass on top of tea posts and you really can’t. Their pasture management There is completely different than on the east coast, but it’s an hour drive across the mountains or an hour Oh yeah, it’s not a far.

And then you know you get into the North Island and it’s big rolling hills. Those are kind of the older dairies. Those were the original dairies, most of the ones in the came to berry area that where I was at. They’ve been built in the last 15 to 20 years. They’ve been there for a long time and they they had more diverse pastures and rolling hills. That area was really interesting to see what they were doing there and how they were managing it. You know open parlors. They might have three walls around the parlors, which was Very interesting, which is unusual for the US.

0:13:38 – Cal Hardage
So I Watch a YouTube channel from a dairy farmer in New Zealand and, yeah, he’s got that Open shed for his swinging. I don’t know, it’s say a 12 Maybe, without knowing for sure. Now I’m thinking I need to look it up and see where he’s located in New Zealand. He was just talking about some nitrogen Application on his last video, but I don’t believe I’ve seen any irrigation on his farm.

0:14:07 – Leo Arnold
They kept the amount that they put on nitrogen wise Understood correctly.

0:14:13 – Cal Hardage
He had a report that showed how much nitrogen he had added, how much Nitrogen from milk and I may be butchering this, i saw it on the video. Other than then I just saw it was interesting. So net usage and then it compared to other farms is really Interesting what he showed, and he didn’t show a lot of that but I just thought oh wow.

0:14:34 – Leo Arnold
Yeah, and then their MUN. They’re not nearly as worried about the MUN as we are here in the milk, you know, but it’s a completely different class of milk than we normally sell. It’s normally class one or two, so it’s mostly powdered and shipped Over seas. So when I was there I would know 600 612 cows by myself and a little over two hours.

0:15:01 – Cal Hardage
It was interesting That would be yes.

0:15:04 – Leo Arnold
Yeah, I’ve never been around a rotor you barn one of the main reason as I wanted to go there was they do Batch rear calves, so they raise 10 calves in a pin at a time, or group rear, they’re group raised as we call it here. Sorry, Yes.

I had some experience on that. In the on the dairy in Wisconsin We raised about 80 heifers way. Well, i wanted to see that on a larger scale because that’s how they were raised. Majority of the calves. New Zealand we had about 360 calves, so we had 36 calves that we had Had in pin. So it was really interesting. You know, in the US we heat the milk and everything and it’s normally fresh milk. There. There, as I was around, they eat the milk. You know, we had big milk bars and then then we took them out to pasture and we continued to feed them on pasture milk and they had these milk trailers which are Absolutely fascinating things. They’re essentially. Have you seen pictures before, or?

0:16:07 – Cal Hardage
yeah, yes, on this youtube channel I follow, he’s got a milk trailer and he pulls out there and he pumps milk into a milk bar, feeder or Whatever they’re called, which that type of raring of calves is is very foreign to me because when we dairyed Of course we’re out of the dairy and business now, but when we dairyed 30 years ago We had individual pins for every calf and we did our best to not have anything That was nursing or drinking milk group with any other kids, because we were concerned about blind quarters and heifers as they matured.

0:16:46 – Leo Arnold
Yeah, you know, health issues are very minimal. You know, i really like that, you know. And cleanliness, from that standpoint, and as we all know, to keep gas healthy you need clean facilities.

0:17:01 – Cal Hardage
And so, once you finished in New Zealand, you came back to Illinois.

0:17:05 – Leo Arnold
I rented my parents out of land in Illinois and then I worked for the majority of the guys who had all in the county And some of them had retired.

So, they pick up some more of least land. I ran most of everything. I had dried beef cows and I had a pet fur and a steer herd that I ran And I would just drive them from farm to farm is out most of the time. I’d do it. Occasionally I would get in a pinch and have to truck them. I would just keep them in herd and I would rotate them from one one far or one pasture to another And then I would split those pastures of polywire and you know bare bones operation. By the same time it wasn’t I had access to as much equipment as I wanted. You know, if I wanted to rent it, all I had to do is the phone and ask and you know I worked for my majority of the people.

The reason I wanted to start there is it’s extremely good pasture, if you manage it. It’s Kentucky, a lot of the Kentucky 31 fest. You most of the pastures don’t have very good fence. Well, you know was exposed to Greg Judy. So I figured out a long time ago depreciating out fence on other people’s land works very well. So I was not afraid to put in some hot wire And I would normally graze it with dry cows the first year, maybe the second year. But the dry cows they came in they could stomp so much more into the ground. They would improve the pasture so much that the succeeding years afterwards it was too good a pasture for the dry cows.

It switched to grazing stocker cattle And I had a mixture of owned stocker cattle and I custom grazed stocker cattle for grass fed operation. But land rent there for pasture is next to nothing compared to crop ground. You know, if it’s crop ground it’s $300 an acre, oh yes, and if it’s pasture it’s $30 an acre. You know you get those pockets, but that was only in that area because of some friends an hour away And their pasture rent was $80 to $100 an acre. But the crop ground is not as good and there’s a lot more cattle And so there’s a lot more competition.

Oh, where I was at there was nobody else having cattle. You know did have to drive a little ways to get to my nutritionist And luckily I didn’t need a vent very often, so I was able to make that work pretty well. But you know, with the experience on the dairy I can fix a lot of things And if I can’t fix them they probably don’t need to be there. A lot of people thought it was kind of a odd spot start. It was a little farther away for the markets. It was pretty centrally located because you know our in 15 minutes got me into Missouri. There were Palmyra and Bowling Green. Missouri were big sale barns and or go up into Iowa and sell if I needed to there, and there were a lot of small sale barns, local sale barns in our area that maybe sold less than 100 feet or cattle a week. Well, you go around there, you pick the junk and you know you can make things work.

And the bundle woman’s chip of give us a real quick synopsis of that sale by essentially what it does, but noticed, like Walmart and big box stores, they make their profit when they replace the item that is sold. They build in a profit. So when they sell something they sell it And then what can we buy back for and have a profit margin in there? You’re just looking at a little bit differently. You’re building in your profit at the, not at the sale. It doesn’t really matter what you sell it at matters what you buy, and you know you can trade. I tended to buy moles that were nutritionally deficient. Pick some up. But there are guys who buy pot. Loads are just undervalued. There’s a what is called the cattle square to determine what is undervalued and what is overvalued in the market, and there are marketing classes from Wally Olson and Richard and Tina Williams hand in hand the livestock They do a very, very good job with explaining it.

0:21:45 – Cal Hardage
It is on my list to go to. Wally has them in Clamor, Oklahoma sometimes, And I have not made it yet. I am actually located four miles from where Wally managed the Kelly Ranch and Oh OK. Oh, at times, I don’t know, he had a thousand head of goats, multiple thousand head, i don’t know. He had a ton of goats. I drove by him every day going to work. But yeah, wally, wally was over here. He lives south of here, i don’t know, 15, 20 miles now. I love listening to him.

0:22:22 – Leo Arnold
I would highly suggest going to one of his marketing schools because you can see how it applies to sheep, goats, cows, stockers and you know any class livestock Well. When I went to his marketing class it was interesting really, the light bulb movement, how it applied to the dairy industry.

0:22:44 – Cal Hardage
And one thing you mentioned there you went to the Wally Olson marketing school You mentioned earlier. you’ve been to Greg Judy grazing school. You did the the DGA. It sounds like you’re very active in going to these different schools or workshops to gain information.

0:23:01 – Leo Arnold
Dad liked to go to them and he had to take one of us kids along, so a lot of times he would take me for a long time. There’s a grazing group in Missouri that’s called Green Hills Farm Project. You know I started going to pasture walks there. I’d do six or seven of them a year. I would go to grazing conferences in Iowa, indiana, wisconsin. I’ve done HMI classes several times, which Holistic Management International. I never went to college but I found people who I could learn from And it’s amazing, once you start that, how that is a cascading effect and you end up in very odd places.

0:23:42 – Cal Hardage
I think that’s great about those conferences and that continuing education piece. So going to Greg Judy of course, when this comes out we’ll have already gone, so I’m really excited about it And hopefully I can get to RFP soon. I was thinking about going And they actually have a class that went on last week in Oklahoma City, but the timing just wasn’t right for me and I really wanted to go, though I hadn’t convinced my wife quite yet to spend that much money, but I was working on it.

0:24:15 – Leo Arnold
RFP is great and HMI now has the online classes. I don’t know if you’ve taken any of them or anything, but that is excellent resource.

0:24:25 – Cal Hardage
I haven’t yet, but it’s on my list, but I haven’t done it yet, so hopefully soon I’ll get that done.

0:24:31 – Leo Arnold
It’s pretty expensive That’s the nice thing and you can have a pretty good scholarship program. Especially for people who are starting out and who don’t have an operation yet. I would really suggest they do some fundamental HMI courses. I was going to mention that this is more for a younger audience or people who are starting out. I realized while I was in DGA actually was I needed the foundations in chemistry, the foundations of biology and economics class, financial management class or business class. I really like to take a book, took a bookkeeping class and then you know. That kind of just gives you the baseline knowledge and then you can build off of that. And while I was in DGA I was actually exposed to the FinPAC. The benefit of FinPAC is they’ll teach you how to do record deepening, which is excellent. No, i’ll just set up an office.

0:25:33 – Cal Hardage
Oh yes.

0:25:34 – Leo Arnold
How to match your production records to your financial records. That was a big eye opener for me was when I learned how to mesh my production records to my financial records. You know, okay, this is what you know, doing this costs me this, but it gives me this return and that, you know, is an acceptable return on my investment and that really was a big eye opener for me. Feel like they did a very good job teaching me that. Like I said, i showed interest so they gave me access to some very high level, very intelligent people at the University of Wisconsin in Minnesota. With having those foundations, it allows me, you know, so I can really understand the nutrition side of things because it’s a lot of it’s just chemistry and understand the nutrition, not only a dairy cattle, with the sheep and the goats and even chickens never have quite figured out horses or rabbits, but you know those types of things. You really baseline of the chemistry and the biology. Really helped the biology when it comes to soil health. You know you take a biology class right before you start going it down the active soil health or you know the soil health academy and that’s a big guy opener. Oh, i understand what these guys are saying, or these people are saying you know, you could pull a lot more out of that. Just for instances, was taking a chemistry class and a nutrition class actually at this community college simultaneously? I wanted to take higher level nutrition classes than they offered through DGA and two professors together, and made my final exam for the chemistry and the nutrition class that they came to me but they didn’t tell me about it. They pushed me a lot to learn.

So, but with those tent baseline of that, it allows you to take advantage opportunities that a lot of people don’t see. And I should add in here that observation is another huge asset. You know, is it looking at sick livestock or happening in the soil, health, or in why is your grass doing this after you graze it? What did you do? You know? and then it allows you to apply the principles a lot better if you have better. You know observation. So observation very good tool. Everywhere I go, you see opportunities to get into agriculture for people, and then, after Illinois, you headed to Nebraska.

Yes, the ranch that I’m on. They called me back in March and offered the job to me and I thought there was more of a long term option in Illinois. They called me two days after I paid all my rent, so I had already written all the checks for that years.

So I wasn’t going anywhere and they wanted someone as soon as possible. That’s not going to work for me. I’m tied up And some things had changed. A June or late May, early June, and I was actually going to RMC, which is a ranch management consultants. They’re the ones who teach RFP. They have a young RFP in Decker Montana every year and I was going to that last June.

So on my way home from that I stopped here at the ranch and toured it and we discussed it and I said well, you know, be interested. They had a couple more interviews they were going to do And by I think, to the end of July it had been decided that I was going to join here. But they had not found the right person and it was able to delay until all my rent releases were up. So I just I came after I got rid of all my cattle in Illinois and I came in here in November and we started buying cattle back. So we sell out completely in the fall and take about six weeks off to do all the maintenance and everything.

0:29:47 – Cal Hardage
Well, why don’t we just go ahead and take this time to move into our overgrazing section, where we take a deep dive into something you’re doing on your operation? So where are we going to talk about, leo?

0:30:00 – Leo Arnold
So we’re going to talk about grazing corn stalk and utilizing leftover corn and the forage there, which was new to me last fall.

0:30:11 – Cal Hardage
I mean that’s completely foreign to me. We don’t have much corn grown in my area of Oklahoma.

0:30:16 – Leo Arnold
So here in Nebraska, where I’m at, there’s a lot of center pivots and it’s pretty common. Everybody rents corn stalk to graze. So they put up a single strand of hot wire around these pivots and then you put whatever animals you have and they graze. There’s always leftover corn, there’s shucks, and for a dry beef cow it’s actually a very good ration. A lot of times they don’t need any other supplement.

you know, depending on what point in their pregnancy they are, And earlier stages they don’t need any supplement. So it works excellent for beef cattle. On the ranch I’m on we have some corn stalks and we have those small, very, very small set of pins that when we buy cattle, because we go to the sale about twice a week and we’ll just trap them in and load them, We’ll work them, you know, we’ll castrate and do all the D warnings and vaccinations and we’ll put them out to corn stalks. They need some protein and energy supplement to keep them grown because they’re calves and they’re still developing. So we fence the pivots and then we split the pivots in fourths and then we give them the corn stalks with feeding distiller grains. On the side We get about a hundred calf days acre from the corn stalks.

But that is feeding several you know quite a bit of DDGs into the new calves. We have the new calves on a separate pivot. We also offer free choice hay And the longer they’re there the more corn they eat. But it takes them a you know transition.

Most of the corn fields have a well and a tank set in the corner, the pivot, and then people just come out and you just lay out pivot wire is what they call it. It’s like a 12 gauge, it’s not a high tensile, it’s pretty easy wire to work with. And then you use metal, step in posts three eighths rod and you put them in and you have insulators and that’s how you raise your calves And it works great until it snows. But you know, there you just have to have your hay. But overall it works really well. On cows, like I said, you know it is a very good feed option in my opinion for beef cows And in Illinois it wasn’t really an option. Most guys weren’t very interested, but out here pretty common practice. There are very few corn fields that are not used.

0:32:55 – Cal Hardage
So depending on your location, you know it might be an option for someone to do that You mentioned how many kef days per acre you get about how long were your stock out on corn stocks?

0:33:08 – Leo Arnold
starting in November till April 15.

0:33:12 – Cal Hardage
Oh, so they spend all winter out there?

0:33:14 – Leo Arnold
Yeah, we did have like a six week period during January that we had to feed everything because there was about a foot and a half snow And actually most of the ones that we fed off. Alpha two are the heifers that we are grazing here on the ranch. They framed out really nice and they’re doing really well. We don’t have much grass here right now with the nutrition they had last winter. They framed up really well And if you can get the corn stocks rented at a good price, very good option for people for cheaper winter feed source. Different forages, pretty everywhere would work. Now with corn stocks. You have the corn stocks and could put in a cover crop. You probably wouldn’t need to feed any protein at all, you could just graze the little green cover and a pretty well balanced ration.

0:34:08 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, that sounds interesting and doable And, like you said, to paraphrase that, find your unfair advantage Exactly.

0:34:17 – Leo Arnold
Most of the time, your unfair advantage is your brain just being able to think of it. You just have to figure out how to use it. If you go with the mindset that it’s not going to work, it’s probably not going to work. The first year of grazing corn stocks is probably not going to be pretty. You’ll write it down, make notes, and the second year and the third year you’ll know better.

0:34:38 – Cal Hardage
Oh yeah. Now, Leo, as you think about your future, what’s your plans?

0:34:44 – Leo Arnold
Well, hopefully this operation here works out long term and I can stay here. It’s a pretty nice area with a lot of beef cattle There would be a good opportunity here to work sheep or goats into it for the brushing coach, which would give me a little more diversity in management. There’s a lot of opportunities here, but that’s yet to be determined.

0:35:10 – Cal Hardage
So a couple episodes ago we had Taylor on and we were talking about calculating forage amount and knowing how big a paddock size and he was talking about his grazing chart And we had some conversation there and you had emailed me about using GPS to determine size and stuff. Can you elaborate on that please?

0:35:36 – Leo Arnold
So one of the problems I ran into is, you know, i knew the pasture size but I would break it up three or four times depending on what time of year it was with polywire, but I never really knew how much I gave him a day. While I was in New Zealand, the manager that I worked under he actually how he did it was he had us use these little handheld GPS’s. He would tell us how much we needed to give the cows and then we would measure it out and give it to him. Well, when I came back to the US you know I have these pastures. You know they’re long, narrow pastures but they’re 30 acre pastures I started doing is measure every day and this only takes a minute or two On your four-wheeler run around how much grass you’re giving him and then you write down how much you’re grass and then you keep track of that and then you see, oh, i was heading from the east side of this pasture, moving west, i was giving him four acres a day and then I got to a sandy spot and six acres instead.

You know you had that all noted. And then the other benefit is if you’re not moving your cattle and have to have somebody else who doesn’t have the eye to figure out what’s grass to give them, you say give them this amount of acres. Here’s how you use the GPS, measure the amount of acreage you need and then set up your fence. It’s pretty. No brainer makes it so. About anyone can move cattle for you, And sometimes I would have to be gone for a week or so and I would go out, look at the amount of grass out there. I would have a rough idea of how much they needed, can tell whoever was doing chores, and it made it a lot easier, took all the guesswork out for them. They didn’t have to worry, and there’s no counting fence posts that I have spaced incorrectly and all sorts of stuff.

0:37:34 – Cal Hardage
Now, when you’re measuring that, are you using a dedicated device or are you using your phone?

0:37:39 – Leo Arnold
So, it’s just a little handheld garment GPS. You can get a program on your phone but it’s only for your phone and, you know, just made things a lot easier that way. There was no question about it. It was $110, i think. Then, like I said, i just keep tracking. It’s really nice because years after, you know, i could look back and see okay, this is how many acres I was giving each week, every day, and you know, just kind of refine the graving records a little bit.

0:38:15 – Cal Hardage
Oh, yes, True, I really liked that idea. I’m going to have to look into that because you know the goal is we’re improving, we’re progressing, we’re becoming better grazers And you know, having that eye for the forage and how much area you’re giving them we were discussing earlier, before we started recording, was my goats And that’s. I just now started grazing some brush with goats and netting. I miscalculated it way off because I was trying to figure out how much browse they had as opposed to grazing, So I think that’s a very useful tool.

0:38:54 – Leo Arnold

0:38:54 – Cal Hardage
Leah, we really appreciate you coming on and sharing. It’s been really interesting. But it’s time we transition to our famous four questions. Same Ford questions we ask of all of our guests. Our very first question what is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource?

0:39:12 – Leo Arnold
It’s marketing 101 by bud and Eunice Williams.

0:39:15 – Cal Hardage

0:39:17 – Leo Arnold
It’s a book they wrote about sell by marketing. Highly recommend that to anyone doing farming, just so you know how to get the value out of your grass. And then there’s another book. It’s called fearless farm finance And it’s written by the people who started FinPak, and it’s it will also help you get a value of your grass and it will go through. It goes through and teaches you how to set up record keeping and do your analysis and all that type of stuff. So it is a very good place to start.

0:39:54 – Cal Hardage
Which is one of those legs of the stool like Will Harris talks about. you know, marketing is a good, important part there And without it under your stool you’re going to tip over.

0:40:06 – Leo Arnold
We tend to forget about the finance. That thing is in the marketing side of things.

0:40:10 – Cal Hardage
We do. People don’t enjoy them as much. Now, i don’t mind the finance side of it. I like numbers, but marketing is the area I really have to work on and force myself to.

0:40:21 – Leo Arnold
Well then, you need to go through one of those classics because I think you would like it a lot, because it turns it a lot more into the numbers game. And you’re dealing with today’s number and it’s a. It’s a fixed thing that you’re dealing with, so it’s really quite interesting.

0:40:40 – Cal Hardage
I have that on my list to do, so, hopefully soon. I will be making progress there. Moving on to our second question What tool could you not live without on your farm?

0:40:52 – Leo Arnold
My fence charger probably.

0:40:55 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, i don’t think an energizer gets listed very often. Leo, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you first got started? or what would you tell someone just getting started?

0:41:07 – Leo Arnold
Get your baseline information, so you know be you know be, fairly familiar with chemistry, biology, finance and economics, and then have an idea of how to do record keeping And you know, once you have the baseline, then you can hire people if you need more complicated stuff. You have to have enough knowledge to be able to ask the question so people who know what they’re doing can answer it for you, right, yes And Leo.

0:41:38 – Cal Hardage
Lastly, where can others find out more about you?

0:41:42 – Leo Arnold
I really don’t have anything. You can put my email on. I think I’m on Facebook.

0:41:46 – Cal Hardage
Well, you’ve gave us a lot of different resources throughout our conversation. We’ll have those listed in the show notes. It’s been a wonderful conversation And, leo, i appreciate you jumping on here at short notice. You’re listening to the grazing grass podcast, helping grass farmers learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer and their operation. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and want to keep the conversation going, visit our community at communitygrazinggrasscom. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to the grazing grass podcast on Facebook, twitter, instagram and YouTube for past and future episodes. We also welcome guests to share about their own grass farming journey. So if you’re interested, felt the form on grazinggrasscom under the be our guest link. Until next time, keep on grazing grass.

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