See how South Dakota beef farmers and ranchers are rethinking the ranch to raise sustainable beef through land-saving, wildlife-preserving, and award-winning environmental efforts.
The Moes Family Feedlot in Watertown, South Dakota began expanding in 2011 to create more comfortable and spacious lots for cattle to continue to get high-quality feed. The family also takes great strides to clean the cattle pens and put the waste back into the land to fertilize the soil, decreasing the use of commercial fertilizer and increasing the moisture and organic matter levels in the soil. Moes Family Feedlot also takes advantage of different technologies to ensure that cattle are healthy and receiving the proper nutrients in their food. The conservation steps don't just stop with their own cattle though. The family has also planted 25 acres of trees to serve as a windbreak and to provide habitat for the local wildlife. For their dedication to sustainability, the Moes Family Feedlot was awarded the prestigious Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP).
"When we do all this, we’re thinking of the next generation. We want to make this land as good—or better—than when we got it for them. So by making it as good or better for them they can keep growing and expanding, and keep this symbiotic relationship with the livestock and the wildlife." - Bryan Moes, Moes Family Feedlot
Meet Todd, Deb and their son Quinn of Mortenson Ranch, an 18,000-acre ranch located in west-central South Dakota along the Cheyenne River. The ranch has been in the family for well over a hundred years and is currently being run by the third generation. The environmental stewardship exhibited on the ranch has long been a source of pride for the Mortensons. The ranch has won numerous conservation awards including The Leopold Award and National Cattlemen's Beef Association Region 7 Environmental Stewardship Award. The ranch continues to host tours as a way to demonstrate to the public how a working ranch benefits the land and all the species that depend on it. The diversity of plants and wildlife species is something to behold.
Raising beef is a complex process, but throughout the entire journey, one thing remains constant – the shared commitment to raising cattle in a safe, humane and environmentally sustainable way by using the latest technology and resources. Today, there are more than 3.6 million cattle and over 13,000 cattle farms and ranches in South Dakota. Learn more about the beef farmers and ranchers who are raising beef from pasture to plate in The Mount Rushmore State.
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South Dakota is a leading state for cattle, hogs, lambs, sheep and wool production.