Desire to Protect Natural Ecosystems Motives Young Farmers

Specialty Beef
Region Westman
Farmers Liam & Andrea

Liam and Andrea are third generation ranchers from southern Manitoba on a farm that celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their management of the land to ensure the resources in their care are gaining productivity and mimicking a natural ecosystem. They use rotational grazing practices and keep a diverse population of perennial plants growing on fragile lands to prevent soil erosion. Their ranch also provides habitat to a wide variety of wildlife.

Farming along the edge of a provincial park poses a unique set of challenges, including the risk of wildfire. When a forest is left undisturbed for many years, the forest floor becomes littered with deadfall and grass. This amount of fuel can make a fire too intense to fight. Cattle are a tool for wildfire mitigation because when a cow grazes a piece of grass it extends its life cycle, staying green longer, and green grass is less likely to burn. The disturbance of the cattle’s hooves also breaks down a lot of organic material that fuels a fire and quickens the spread. Reducing the frequency and intensity of wildfires reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and cattle play an important role in that process.