Retired Rancher Still Busy Preaching Sustainable Pasture Practices

A McLean County rancher who tried retirement briefly is finding there’s still plenty of work to do at age 72.
That includes working to convince ranchers to consider different grazing techniques that protect the land and enhance production.

Jim Olson caught up with him this week north of Turtle Lake.

Gene Goven and his four-legged helper Faith had fence mending on the docket.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “Fixing fence into the lake right here.”

Something he’s been busy with in recent days.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “This is the last of it – the last 50 feet.”

Fences are important in Goven’s line of work – for over 50 years, he’s been ranching out here in McLean County near Turtle Lake. He’s trying to retire.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “Sold the last of my cow herd in February.

But he’s still in the business – now renting out his pasture land for custom grazing. And in his half-century of raising cattle, Goven has become something of a preacher for rotational grazing – taking the message all over.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “Few different countries, 22 states, a few Canadian provinces…”

The idea is to greatly reduce the stress on pasture land by allowing grazing for a much shorter period – maybe only ten days – and then letting the land recover.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “We like to leave behind more than what we used to raise total before – feed the soil first.”

You might think that requires more land, but Goven says the opposite is true – and the results are staggering.

(Gene Goven, Turtle Lake Rancher) “Compared to our old, season-long data prior to 1980, currently we’re about 430% increase in per-acre productivity.”

That’s the kind of innovation that keeps a rancher on the land, and in the water, for five decades…and counting.

Near Turtle Lake, Jim Olson, KX News.

Goven serves as a mentor for the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition…a group that promotes soil health for sustainable farming and ranching.
 

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