In this episode, you’ll learn…
- How Greg started with no money and created a herd he now owns of up to 400 cows.
- What to look for in farmland you plan on leasing.
- How long your leases should be.
- How to pitch your offer to landowners.
- What to look for in utilities and electrical.
- How to add water to leased land.
- What type and size cattle work best in this system.
- Insurance requirements on leased land and much more.
- Don’t forget to check out the Small Farm Nation Academy whenever you’re ready.
Imagine only having eight bucks in your pocket and wanting to start a farm. What can you do? Today, I’m talking with well-known farmer Greg Judy, who rose from the ashes of divorce to create a
So thanks for joining me here as we kick off season 3 of the Small Farm Nation podcast. And I’m thrilled to have the support of Farmers Web. They have some awesome software that helps many farmers—I remember Greg Gunthorp telling me how much he relied on Farmers Web when I interviewed him last year, so check ‘em out at farmersweb.com
So before we dive into my discussion with Greg Judy let me tell you what to expect this year. I’ll be doing lots of interviews with folks involved with all aspects of sustainable farming.
All types of farmers, for sure, but also other businesses who bring you sustainably produced farm products. I’ll even be talking with people who cover regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming in the media. So whether you’re a farmer, you want to become a farmer or you’re a local food advocate, you’re gonna really enjoy this season.
And it’s nice to kick off the year by hearing from Greg Judy. I won’t give you his story since he’ll do that in a second. But, if you’re not familiar with Greg, he’s well-known for two things.
The first reason he’s well known is that he has created a sizable farming operation by first custom grazing other people’s cattle before leasing many different farms. So Greg and I recap how he got started, mistakes he’s made and what he looks for in terms of farm properties. He shares his best tips on negotiating leases, what fencing tools to use and even what type of cattle to raise.
The second reason Greg is well-known to pasture-based farmers is that he practices mob-grazing, or putting lots (and I mean LOTS) of ruminants on a small piece of land and moving them multiple times a day.
With his experience, Greg has a lot to share. So let’s dive right into my discussion with Missouri farmer, Greg Judy.
CLICK HERE TO READ FULL TRANSCRIPT
Tim Young: [00:00:00] Small farm nation is sponsored by farmersweb.com, software for your farm. farmersweb.com helps farms inform buyers of available product handle orders simplify customer interactions and reduce the administrative load so check them out at farmersweb.com.
Tim Young: [00:00:16] Imagine only having eight bucks in your pocket and wanting to start a farm. What can you do. Hey it’s Tim Young from smallfarmnation.com. Today I’m talking with well-known farmer Greg Judy who rose from the ashes of divorce to create a sixteen hundred acre farm with other people’s money.
Tim Young: [00:00:41] Hey there. Thanks for joining me here as we kick off season three of small farm nation and I’m thrilled to have the support of farmersweb.com. They have some awesome software that helps many farmers I remember last year Greg Gunthorp and I talking about how much he relied on farmers Webb when I interviewed him so check them out at farmersweb.com. Now before we dive into my discussion today with Greg Judy let me tell you what to expect this year.
Tim Young: [00:01:05] I’m going to be doing lots of interviews with folks involved with all aspects of sustainable farming. Now that means all types of farmers for sure but I’ll also be talking with other businesses who bring you sustainably produce farm products. I’m even going to be talking with people who cover regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming in the media. So whether you’re a farmer or whether you want to become a farmer or whether you’re a local food advocate you’re really going to enjoy this season.
Tim Young: [00:01:32] And it’s nice to kick off the year by hearing from Greg Judy. Now I’m not going to give you his story since he’ll do that in a second. But if you’re not familiar with Greg he’s well known for two things in the farming community. The first reason he’s well known is that he’s created a sizable farming operation by first custom grazing other people’s cattle before later leasing many different farms himself. So Greg and I recap how he got started. Mistakes he’s made and what he looks for in terms of farm properties he shares his best tips on negotiating leases what fencing tools to use and even what type of cattle to raise for his type of model. The second reason Greg is well known to pasture based farmers is that he practices mob grazing or putting lots and I mean lots of ruminants on a small piece of land and moving them multiple times a day. So it’s a really interesting story. He’s a really great guy. And with his experience he has a lot to share. So let’s just dive right in to my discussion with Missouri farmer Greg Judy
Tim Young: [00:02:42] Greg Judy. Glad to have you on small farm nation. When did you actually start farming?
Greg Judy: [00:02:49] Probably. I started doing it wrong in about nice to see 1991. I bought my first set of Yeah I bought my first set of cattle and the conventional buying the land and the equipment. Do it all the professionals tell me do you mean you’re feeding grain and just really wasn’t focused at all on managing grass.
Tim Young: [00:03:15] Probably probably putting down fertilizer and all the stuff they told you to do.
Greg Judy: [00:03:18] Oh yeah yeah. And you know at the end of the year there just wasn’t much potential or profit left and what I was doing I love the livestock and the land and all that. Course the land I bought was in the family for like 50 years. So I had that feeling of wanting to keep it in the family but I couldn’t see a way it was going to happen using conventional agriculture practices.
Tim Young: [00:03:46] So you know it’s kind of interesting it’s a similar story. I don’t know if you know Will Harris down at White Oak pastures but it’s a similar story that will always tells me about how he was always putting down ammonium nitrate and doing what they told him to do and it just was a spider a death spiral basically and he had an awakening as well. So I understand your awakening was this isn’t financially viable but what what did you then do when you had that realization. Some people get out of farming but you didn’t get out of farming. So how did you decide what to do.
Greg Judy: [00:04:18] I started looking for other people that looked to me like they were doing things different than I was doing. And had you know like around here I had a real good friend that had the same drought that I had in this seven miles in my healthy yet he had grass and I did. You got to look into like what’s going on is your land better than mine. He goes No not really. I said Well why do you have grass and I don’t. And he had like at that time probably twenty five paddocks set up and he was rotating these rotating animals and I’m like it looks to me like you just messed up a good farm put in all this fence.
Tim Young: [00:05:02] Yes it can be hard to cut hay now.
Greg Judy: [00:05:04] Yeah it’s hard to cut hay. It’s funny you say that. That’s the first thing out of my mouth. Yeah. When I saw this form was like you’re wasting all this grass you could roll it up into hate. Right in my thought process or just so backwards I thought hey was a sign of wealth. You know the more hate mail as you put up. I got it. You’re pretty well all right. You know what.
Tim Young: [00:05:27] And he was obviously rotational traditional grazing but I guess he wasn’t mob grazing was he?
Greg Judy: [00:05:34] No no nothing. It was so fun to talk with him today because he comes to my farm now. We hosted the grazers group here for Boone County seven years ago. He came and he’s like great you said. I can’t believe how far you’ve come. We say you pass me many times over and I’m like Steve.
Greg Judy: [00:05:53] I said you’re the guy that got me go and he gave me that first copy of my Stockman grass farm. And he also told me about the schools that he went to the north Missouri the university Missouri had at that time that Linnaeus grazing school which is taught by Jim Garrison. So that was a big it was a big block for me to get up on it. Well when I came back from that class I just I couldn’t get enough of it. All right.
Tim Young: [00:06:22] All right. So. So you learned about this rotational grazing and you saw it firsthand. What did you do did you go back to your land and install permanent fencing or what you do?
Greg Judy: [00:06:32] I immediately started drawing wires up and lanes and oh I made so many mistakes but you know I was I wanted to do something. And I was so flabbergasted with the results I saw people that you know their cattle were fat they had probably three to four times more grass than I did and they are no more animals in I were then I was on the same amount of land on my sentence. Something’s not kosher here. I really did think that they were maybe feeding hay or grain or something to allow them to run that many more into but bottom line was that they came back and management got it.
Tim Young: [00:07:16] So when did you and how did you make the transition from owning this family land to then getting into renting or leasing farmland.
Greg Judy: [00:07:25] The big one for me was in 1996. I went through a terrible time in my life. I went through a divorce and it lasted for six years basically took me out almost no I didn’t go bankrupt but I was awful close and so I was forced. During that time period to keep the payment on my farm I went in approached another landowner about bringing his cattle over to me another cabin owner and so I started custom grazing his cows on my land and I didn’t I could not win anything because I was still miss messed up and that divorce thing. But as soon as that divorce is over I’m like You know what run on other people’s cattle on your land or somebody else’s land. It’s like having a paycheck every month and still I mean listen I read an article in the title of the article was basically why I own the land control it. And so I used to talk about leasing and it just made so much more sense and one sentence said your sole purpose in life should not be to own the land but to control it. And boy I mean it hit me like a brick and I started looking around the neighborhood and man there was so much land or a little base do anything with it.
Greg Judy: [00:08:54] I didn’t have a fence on it. It didn’t have any water on it. It was growing up in brush. A lot of it had been hayed until there wasn’t anything like that Broomesedge which tells you the soil was bankrupt. And so I started approach in my first landowner was gonna live in Dallas Texas and I got it. You got that first please. One hundred and sixty acres and that gave me the. You might say it in the confidence to go after more and back to that because he was such a great landowner I found out that landowners like to see their property taken care of and so that’s kind of gone but my business had about landscaping business I make their farms beautiful.
[00:09:38] We don’t just go slap up some wire. I mean we want them to look nice. And that’s a showplace so we can use that showplace to show the next landowner of what we can do literally.
Tim Young: [00:09:48] You know I’ve heard so many entrepreneurial stories that there’s a lot of people that want to be entrepreneurs and life as you know one that I see countless people who dream of starting a business and never do. But most of the really great success stories that I’ve witnessed are these silver linings a divorce that forces you to go. I can’t beat out outlying capital. I’ve got to find a way to make it. And what a brilliant strategy because not just do you get to conserve capital by renting or leasing land but I believe there’s some tax advantages too right.
Greg Judy: [00:10:18] Oh big time. Meantime you know when you lease a piece of property 100 percent of that lease payment is tax deductible. It’s a business expense. When you buy property you. You can deduct the interest but you can’t get the principal. Yeah. And so I couldn’t afford to buy anything and any money. I was really scared but I was scared that I was going to lose my family for it. I mean this is a form that my uncle bought back in nineteen forty nine and he got killed in 1967. And I’ll tell you just part of me I wanted to preserve uncle Scott’s point so bad that I couldn’t see I was going to do it. And I looked at my checking account and it was at 19 nineteen ninety nine and I had eight dollars in my checking. That was going to get me back to my next to it but I somewhat cut.
Tim Young: [00:11:17] Come on Greg it’s like 12 bucks today. That’s not so bad. Well it was eight dollars.
Greg Judy: [00:11:22] That’s all I had in my checking account and it had to last me for two weeks. And people say what you carrying money is a lot. I carry money with me I know what I might spend it but I didn’t have a carry. So it is easy not to carry it but you know when I got that loan there was only one way out. That was a desire to quit and give up or just walk away or come up with a new strategy and I just I was done. I was just consumed by that. I knew I had to find a way to get it.
Tim Young: [00:11:53] So you started by custom grazing. You rented land and you custom grazed other people’s cattle on your land. So at some point you made the transition to owning your own herd but when did that happen?
Greg Judy: [00:12:05] I started my own herd in 2003. Now we started out with 22 cow calf pairs and we would actually graze those graze that herd with custom graze groups. And so it wasn’t like I just had 22 cows on one farm I might have another hundred and fifty out there but twenty two of those were mine. And over time I just kept building and building a building. Every time I got a nestegg put together another 20 30 maybe 40 cows I’d buy more more of these South poll cattle that we have today. And then I started internally building I had enough cows now that I can save my best heifers. And today we range somewhere between 250 and 400 head depending on the time that we own everything that you’re hurt.
Tim Young: [00:12:53] Do you still do any custom grazing for anyone else.
Greg Judy: [00:12:56] No we don’t. We stop custom grazing in 2012 was the last year I believe we custom grade but it was a great way for me to use other people’s capital that are there their livestock and beat these old forms up and get that thatch placed on the ground get symbology grow in the soil and build a nesting at the same time. So it was that it was a cool thing. We graze cattle. Twelve months of a year or so when the green season was buried and the growing season they would buy hay and I would go get it. I would put and the hay delivered to my farms and so in the winter time all these old worn out soil bank farms allergies smother them with perfect hay to other people’s cattle that they paid for school. They bought the hay I said their cattle my lease for and they basically repaired my informants for me for free. When they got paid to do it.
Tim Young: [00:14:01] Are you feeding hay now. Are you grazing all around. You’re stockpiling right now.
Greg Judy: [00:14:08] When you say feeding hay really do graze year round I do always purchase them. It’s like an insurance policy for me. You wish you don’t have to use it but if you’ve got it and your house burns down you’ll be happy you had it. And so we we we keep somebody out we get some pretty bad weather here in Missouri occasionally and that is not our mainstay. We try and graze all of all winter work.
Tim Young: [00:14:37] So you know your story is well known to a lot of people in the farming world. And you know so many of them see kind of where you are now which is which is kind of the after picture and they’re trying to figure out how to get started with renting land or leasing land. How what tips do you have for someone who wants to approach someone to a position to deal or negotiate a deal for renting or leasing land to graze.
Greg Judy: [00:15:01] Well there’s quite a bit of things a lot of different steps that go into that and I think primarily no one you know when you meet that land owner and you reach out and say here’s the land here.
Greg Judy: [00:15:18] You have already placed an impression here is mine. What kind of person you are just by your appearance and the way you shake his hand the way you looking in your and if you give him this hand out here it feels like a wet napkin. There’s no structure to it. I call it a wet fish handshake. That’s the business turnoff to me right. And so a good handshake meeting the guy head on and then telling him your story. Knowing what you do tell him where your farm is in relation to his and it does help if you’ve got a what I call a home base and that can be five acres but if you live in the community that you’re trying to lease from then use your credibility and if you’re a newbie coming in and you don’t have such a place well then try and make contact with somebody that’s grazing and taking care of land like you’re going to be very and ask them if you can bring a perspective point over there to show them what you’re going to do. And this is what this is my plan for your farm. And we’ve got a huge advantage we’ve got we’ve got 16 year so we can put on the wings make a whole day out of just one form or the next. Knowing these guys what we’re doing. And so yeah it’s it’s all about showing them what you got. You know that first impression that you make doesn’t take a lot of their time. People are busy day and that they may not have time to spend an hour with you.
Tim Young: [00:16:51] What would you is the main benefits to the landowner. So if I go into them and say here’s what I’m doing I’m in your community. I’m raising some cows but I really like to raise more here. But that’s not enough about me.
Tim Young: [00:17:03] Here’s the benefits to you if I do this if I take over the management of your farm. We’re gonna be building soil. So we’re not removing nutrients we’re adding nutrients to your land. We’re going to basically control all that Woody brush invasion is taking over your farm. We’re going to clean up the fence rows we’re going to take off any trash that we see. Our purpose is to make your farm look like a showplace so the aesthetics the aesthetics and you’re gonna buy a farm. People just go wow that’s that’s that’s that’s a beautiful landscape.
Tim Young: [00:17:42] And so that’s that’s kind of what we’re trying to do is given the land reform and it’s fun to use that word landscape because in a way that is what you’re doing you’re not only your grazing for you but your landscaping for them.
Greg Judy: [00:17:54] Absolutely. Absolutely. And this new practice that just got into called silvopasture. Well that’s a big one because we have a lot of timber around us, and we go in and silvopasture and create silvopasture along the road frontages place a brand new fence and silvopasture. So you drive by your mouth plops open. Yes yes. Yes it’s beautiful it’s a beautiful Savannah like landscape. So that’s a big tool.
Tim Young: [00:18:32] So in terms of the deal structure in terms of how long of a deal would you require and things like that how would how would you recommend someone approach that.
Greg Judy: [00:18:42] I wouldn’t ever lease a farm from year to year. And I don’t do a handshake lease and redo. You need to have that written down and it can be fairly simple but it needs to state the length of the lease course. You know what you are paying for the lease maybe a general idea of what you’re going to be doing what you won’t do. Far as if he has water on the farm like some ponds you’re not going to let the cattle in the ponds you’re going to place things they can drink adulatory landowners are really concerned about mud. They don’t like to see a lot of muddy spots on the farm and so we really focus on you know we don’t want to destroy our farm. The other thing is you did make a mistake on their farm and you create a mess. Well you want to own up to it right away. And most landowners will forgive you if you hide it. Don’t tell me they can and find it out of it.
Tim Young: [00:19:43] Do you find it for the most part. How often are you putting wells on farms or ponds versus there’s already a water source there for you.
Greg Judy: [00:19:54] Probably over half of the farms at least didn’t have water. And so we offered to build upon on the farm as the cause we can deduct that off the cost of release. Let’s say we get a thousand dollar a year lease and we build a three thousand dollar condo the first three years we’re not going to bring in anything.
Greg Judy: [00:20:17] We already cut the plant on that would be the costs for the first three years. I won’t lease a farm for less than six years. I’ve got to have six year. You try and go for the maximum number of years you possibly can get. Because it just goes by so quick.
Tim Young: [00:20:34] So at least six years preferably like 10 if you can get it.
Greg Judy: [00:20:37] Yes. Yes. And on water you know some of the farms we’ve got had water meters. County pressurized water. All we have to do is pay the meter. And so that’s really pretty nice you got pressure there. You don’t have to pump you don’t have a pressure. Can you guys hook onto it above ground piping or if the landowner wants he’s willing to give you a longer lease you can afford to bury it. I mean just bury it in the water pipe when you can let’s say take 100 acres and you can run a water point down the middle of that hundred acres. Oh my goodness. That really opens up the real possibilities of beyond the graze some pretty good pretty good science herds in there and start basketing in all these other forms on the air form. That’s a big hit.
Tim Young: [00:21:29] Are you only putting ponds in when there’s higher elevation so that you can use gravity for distribution. Or are you putting ponds in even if it’s a flat farm.
Greg Judy: [00:21:37] If it’s a flat I’ve got just a little bit of a water catchment. Anything above my current I can catch a little bit on opposite of war. We’ll separate the dam and see you put that pipe. The very bottom of that pond is built.
Greg Judy: [00:21:53] And so if you get let’s say twelve feet of water on the top of that pipe you’ve got six pounds of natural pressure for every foot of water that you’d cover a pipe up with you’d gain a half a pound of natural pressure and so you can treat. I don’t ever put a tape right behind. I’d like to get it out 100 feet 200 feet or get it get it away from that water is now. It allows you to do more. Wagon Wheel like patties you’re going to it. You’re right up against the bank of that wall. You’ve already mentioned somehow you’ve already mentioned your book on to direct. You can’t bring him down over that laundry room.
Tim Young: [00:24:05] So this next question I bet you get all the time and we both know there’s no right answer to this. Let me talk you about how much you pay for farmland and I’m sure the answer is gonna be well sometimes it’s free and sometimes it’s a lot but generally speaking how will a new person let’s say a farmer wants to approach someone in that person that issue comes up. How do they assess what’s the right amount to pay for that property?
Greg Judy: [00:24:31] All traces back and several different things. One is how much infrastructure is there. If you’ve got really good perimeter fence you’ve got good water you’ve got a handling facility you’ve got a gravel road coming in there you’ve got electricity you’re going to give top price for that lease whatever that is in your area. Here in Missouri right now top prices the cattle markets drop in half in the last three years says I just talked to a guy last week. He’s paying 30 30 dollars an acre for a pretty nice farm. I mean it’s got a good fence on it. He’s not grazing it right he’s grazing the whole entire farm is one rule. We don’t need to go into that base. He couldn’t make it he couldn’t make it over 30 dollars an acre. Well I can see why I wasn’t managing his grass. But if nothing is there you know you can’t afford to go in there and pay him a lot of money for that lease if he didn’t have a fence and he’s not going to build the things you want to to build the fence. That’s the thing. Somebody landowners don’t want to put any money into the property. If you’re willing to do that make sure you know what the costs of that business is before you get started. Your labor that needs to be negotiated into the weeds. I have one form I didn’t pay anything for the first five years. He didn’t really put anything in the fence or the water so I did it all. I still got that form of dating.
Tim Young: [00:26:01] Wow. So when you say you say you go to a farm this bare land because I see a lot of that around here and I’m sure you see that. I mean it’s it’s there’s a lot of grass a lot of times these people just have someone local come in and cut the hay and they give it to them just so they can get the grass cut but that’s all they’re doing. If you go onto a place like that would you go in and say you’ve got a 10 year deal on. They said fine you can graze it would you go in and put in permanent perimeter fence or would you do all portable electric fence.
Greg Judy: [00:26:30] I’d put in a good permanent perimeter fence. So now I can keep the animals on the foreign grass a parliament. There’s some talk that a 5 y or high fence over I don’t use any barbed wire and no well what would you do 5 5 or because you’re doing multi species grazing or are you just doing cows both cattle sheep that will hold them most most goats. Yeah.
Tim Young: [00:26:57] You can’t hold on a goat. There’s no way.
Greg Judy: [00:27:03] We don’t run our pigs in the pasture. We keep them back in the timber but I find what our fans tell him what that allows you to do allows you to sleep at night. Because if you have a heart for this boy. No no Jim bulls get after her. You’ve only got a two hour friends out there. You see that. That’s because the bulls have been changed in order eye on the highway. Now gets it. Guess what. You’re liable. Some states. It’s not that way but in Missouri your last longer on the road they can see though I sleep good at night. Yes good charger. We have hot hot dancing. We keep them tight and coming up.
Tim Young: [00:27:46] That’s a good point I think the whole sleep at night thing is a good point it’s worth it to put in that perimeter fence because you’re negotiating at least a six year deal. And not only do you get the ability to sleep at night that caveat of you putting in perimeter fencing adds value to the property so it’s easier to sell the land on or on the lease.
Greg Judy: [00:28:04] Absolutely.
Greg Judy: [00:28:06] The last two farms I leased both of them had basically this last we just got the latest when it had zero it had zero in on it except for I touched it.. I touched him on one side was on one of my other leased farms and so I did have one side fence so we had to go in and roll up the old wire. There was old barbed wire laying near where we had we rolled up all the old wire that we built the brand new. Yes that’s something I’ll say. Don’t get in a hurry and put up your new fence when you’ve got an old fence laying right there. It will be a wreck. It’s just a matter of time that old fence gets up on your new fence and this bed.
Tim Young: [00:28:48] You mentioned you have your fences are really really hot. Does that mean that you require your farms to have electrical or are you generating that voltage some other way yeah.
Greg Judy: [00:29:04] Well they have some excellent you know basically solar chargers that they use a solar panel and I have found that electric fences are measured in jewels joules of output. You can get more jewels cheaper with a plug in charge than you can a solar. And so I use all plug ins. I’m fortunate enough that our forums touch a lot of them. And so I can use one charger to power five alarms. You can do that. That’s pretty economical.
Tim Young: [00:29:39] So you must be using their list their existing electrical. Is that part is that I mean I don’t know that’s a minor expense but somehow are you guys metering that and you’re paying for that or how does that work.
Greg Judy: [00:29:50] It’s in my name. The meter is on my name. I see all the forms I’ve got I don’t have anybody living or any Thank you. Well out of the sixteen palms there is only two that had people written on it and I don’t use their electric on the two that they live in or I’m coming off of my own meter so I can prove to people that like electric fence does not use any it doesn’t use any color.
Greg Judy: [00:30:23] So you’re paying for you’re paying for kilowatt hours you get your meter and you get your electric bill. I worked in the electric utility industry with 30 years in power. That’s what my job would. And if you plug in your you turn on your oven you run out to look at your meter. That sucker is spinning. Yeah. Glad you’re unplugging your electric fence or you can eat it or even move it and won’t even move unless unless you take us your post you’re to get it started in the ground a little bit and let it fall over on net metering will start turning on the electric fence at this point ends its atoms that make the kilowatt hours move not volts.
Tim Young: [00:31:08] So what about the issue of insurance when you when you’re going onto somebody else’s property and you’re negotiating this lease for six years. I mean they’re at some risk of some liability or exposure unless you’re properly insured. So what are you doing to protect yourself.
Greg Judy: [00:31:22] Yes we carry a rider liability policy on every form that we have. And so our insurance agent has the league under scripts and every phone that we have leads and so something would happen on one of those forms our insurance will cover it. That’s another good reason. Good because I’ve never. I wish I would hear a knock or I’ve never had an animal yet get out on a public road and if you get out on gravel road road or have five water fence they don’t get out.
Tim Young: [00:31:56] So today I understand that you’re you’re what about 16 farms and about sixteen hundred acres or something like that.
Greg Judy: [00:32:03] Yes.
Tim Young: [00:32:05] And so you’re you’re raising multiple species and you talked about raising pigs I know you used to raise Tamworth’s I don’t know if you still are or not. I think you used to raise St. Croix sheep. I’m not sure kind of sheep you’re raising and of course you’ve got a 250 or 300 cattle out there. What are you doing with all these animals. How are you going to market to sell them and create a market for them.
Greg Judy: [00:32:25] We’ve got a really diverse marketing strategy we’ve got first of all we’re selling seed stock in the form of males to be bowls or RAMS and then on the female side or break and we’re selling bred heifers even open yearling heifers. Then we’ve got grass fed beef breast fed lamb and course passion Ray’s Paw Paw Woods raised pork.
Greg Judy: [00:32:54] We don’t have any seed stock in important business we actually buy pigs on there. We do sell quarters haves and. And now we are in a USTA a plant and so we can’t sell it but that’s a small percentage of our business. We saw a lot more quarters has the wolves and we do say five pounds. And unlike the bigger order market you know your time is worth something. And if you can one of the markets I’ve got into this selling steers all spheres to other grass fed producers and you go why would they buy your steers when they can’t raise enough because they got too small of an operation. So I guess the biggest order I’ve ever done was a smart load. We actually sold a whole similar load of Spears two thousand needles cattle company up in Minnesota. That was a pretty good chance to have drive off my farm and I sold you know 40 fast years in one fell swoop and I dealt with one customer.
Greg Judy: [00:33:56] Now if you’re a small operator it behooves you just sell and buy the cut because you’re going to get more for wholesale versus retail. You’re looking at retail probably twenty five rendered maybe twenty seven hundred wholesale. You’re looking at maybe eighteen hundred and two thousand. So there is a big difference there. Know that Ian Neil got from Africa told me so great. What do you like to do. You like to sit on the parking lot Saturday morning. So we need or do you like to be under the accounts. That was an easy road. That is an easy one. Well speaking of Ian you just mentioned I’ll let you talk about him in a second.
Tim Young: [00:34:34] You had this revelation back in the 90s when you went to meet a fellow farmer about. Wait a minute he’s doing rotational grazing and then if you go back then if you go forward to 2005 2006 that’s probably when you first met Ian and you had another revelation. So tell us about that.
Greg Judy: [00:34:52] Yeah that was a major turning point in my life. Ian Mitchell innocent US the South African high density Razor Blade Runner about fourteen thousand acres and he runs anywhere from four to six thousand cows. And you know I heard Ian talking about you know we’re not we’re not we’re not the grass for this. What do you mean we’re not grass where I was I stuck my chest on the grass. No he said you’re really a Michael or you these microbes and you say you take your microbes everything else and take care of itself and you need to look below the soil there’s more animals living beneath the soil than there is above the soil. Morris pounds per acre and if we’ll learn to feed those things keep their little heads covered with litter. Animal impact breaking the literal rambling around. You just get a whole there’s a whole host of things that start to improve. So if mob grazing you’re actually getting more litter trampled you’ve got one large group moving across the landscape and we’ve just taken the top third of the planet where we’re moving and we’re trying to mimic the wild herds that we’re here for a million little hell for years before a white man came and basically extorted all these animals moved across the landscape and so we move our animals twice a day 365 days of a year in the springtime when the grass is growing quickly you may even move them for God’s. We’re just trying to always keep that grass in a vegetated growing state. Once the grass gets overly mature and puts on a scene and it starts to turn color you you missed the golden opportunity to put a lot of weight. Yeah you’re not gonna get rid of that unless you put dry cows on it.
Tim Young: [00:36:39] But you know you’re doing more than just putting you’re doing more than just moving the cows. That’s what you did when you did rotational grazing the mob grazing that Ian does. I’d read some crazy stuff like he might put a few thousand cows on one hundred acres and then move them every day. So just visualizing one hundred acres and seeing 4000 cows there and obviously what he’s trying to do is to create a frenzy where they will bite everything but bite it once and then move them to the next paddock.
Greg Judy: [00:37:06] Is that right. Because anytime you put your group animals together it becomes a competition. Because if I don’t eat it Tim you’re going to work. It it doesn’t happen anymore with mob grazing the proper mob grazing and that’s the thing I feel kind of sad about so many people got the wrong connotation about mob grazing is they say mom and I think just nuke it you know take it off beat it dead. No you’re still living you still being a living breathing animals they’ve got to have the proper full reach. They’re not going to do very well. So there’s a term there’s called landscaping mode where you’re beating up the ground trampling the dead stuff on the ground and there there’s also animal performance mode in animal performance mode. If you’ve got a cow 60 days before calving that’s when 90 percent of the camp is born. You don’t want to be landscaping and be beaten a step back. You want to give her the best nutrition care so you focus on her intake. The top part of the plant that’s where your energy levels are high.
Tim Young: [00:38:15] So you know bringing this full circle now if you go back to the early 90s you had you know a history on the land and farming and you were farming in a conventional way. And then of course you were introduced to rotational grazing and then later to mob grazing. Originally I’m sure you were probably raising because back then people were raising and some people still are large frame Angus big cows. I’m wondering what if your mindset has changed over the years in terms of what the right type of cow and the what what the right size of cow is to be it to work well in this mob grazing rotational grazing model.
Greg Judy: [00:38:52] That is an awesome question. I’m glad you brought that one up because yeah it’s it’s huge. I was under the mindset that you have a big old cow because you know you to sell a big old camp. And I was focused on weaning weights. That’s the stupidest thing that ever was. You should be focused on animals weight put on per acre not per animal. So it’s game per acre you can run more of it. I was running great big cows and great big bowls and they were tearing up my passion especially when I custom grazed I had to graze what they sent me and I was grazing eighteen hundred pound cows and when it rained I didn’t sleep very good at night because they had them to destroy the grass. And so if you look at the economics of it a big Carol they’re just not they’re never going to win 50 percent of their body weight. Like a thousand pound cow with a thousand pound cat. How much do you weigh in. They won’t eat as much foraging in the wintertime they’ll cruise. They’ll cruise right through the winter. They will not get sand like those great big cows. They don’t require grain beginning to bleed that Tim I did all of this for seven years. My custom graze great big cows.
Greg Judy: [00:40:05] And I was out there feeding them breeder tube in the summer, those cows couldn’t get enough energy to bring that you didn’t feed a reader. You came up with 40 percent open. And it always bothered me my people making the money they work they still earn. Not to mention if you want to grow your herd. Look at the size of the cows that compete.
Tim Young: [00:40:30] They’re monsters and if you and if your goal is to grow a herd also I mean if you’ve got a two thousand pound cow it’s gonna give you one calf. If you have two 1000 pound cows you’re gonna get two camps yes absolutely.
Greg Judy: [00:40:44] And when you go to sell those cars there’s going to bring the most parent the two thousand pound cows this nation brings in 800 parents. OK you go slowly Interpol Captain. I’m going to go sell 2 400 pounds. Tell me which one brings the most per pound.
Tim Young: [00:41:01] Your 400 pounders.
Greg Judy: [00:41:03] Absolutely. So you got more of. You get more per road and you get a higher percentage greenback and the cows stole your pants.
Tim Young: [00:41:13] I mean you’ve had to read you know we homeschool our daughter of course. Some people call it unschooling. You’ve had to be you’ve had to be unschooled Greg.
Greg Judy: [00:41:22] Right.
Greg Judy: [00:41:24] My neighbors all think I’m nuts and that’s. That’s all right.
Tim Young: [00:41:30] Anybody in this space of doing some type of what we like to call whatever our permutation of sustainable livestock grazing is we’re all nuts in whatever way it may be. But you know it makes a lot of sense and I think it’s proven. I mean your model is very much proven and by the way you’ve mentioned the 16 farms and all the work that you’re doing moving twice a day sometimes three or four in the spring. How many people are we talking about that are in your farming enterprise to to be two people what a big at a fast four wheeler to people not including myself.
Greg Judy: [00:42:04] I’ve got a full time ranch manager now and then I’ve got to run an internship program here. We take an intern on for one year we provide housing here on the farm and everything’s paid for. They get a stipend so much a month and we teach them how to be good grazers and we find a job when they leave here if they’re good.
Tim Young: [00:42:24] If somebody is passionate about learning we can teach them that they’re not passionate. I don’t want them here. And we screen them we bring a man and let them work with us and then they get the best
Tim Young: [00:43:01] So it’s easy for me to visualize grazing or mob grazing. You know the four thousand animals on all the land that Ian has. What if somebody had a small farm to say they’d got 50 acres 100 acres and they’ve got some cows and they really are just intrigued by this idea of mob grazing and they’d like to do it do you think there’s any. What are the minimum sizes in terms of property and animals that somebody would need to to implement the strategy.
Greg Judy: [00:43:31] One cow or one cow. We’re just gonna give you 10 feet. We had a guy come to the grade in school several years ago. He had ridden cattle. And he went home and snake that down in his yard. There’s no doubt. And he moved there twice a day morning and night she raised a really nice circle. And he did that all summer long where majority never had to mow his yard all summer. And I mean he had a really nice sort of grass out there but he didn’t come back until the grass is recovered but that cow is 60 foot circle. She was really getting this man back. He’s still getting the fertility the poop in the pee. And he had her on a rope or a rope so you can do a small lake. It’s all scale relevant.
Tim Young: [00:44:18] What about dealing with cow patties out there because a lot of people do that with you know moving chickens behind or whatever. I don’t think that’s what you’re doing. Granted if granted in Ian’s case if you got 4000 cows on a hundred acres they’re going to trample that into the ground. But if you in a smaller environment where this guy had one cow that’s not going to be the case so how do you deal with that or how would a small farmer deal with that.
Greg Judy: [00:44:40] Well we do have chickens. We’ve got a young couple now on the farm that’s around 600 million years. No they can’t they can’t keep up with our cows. But the cows. Matter of fact tonight we move the cows across the road they’ll be in with the laying hens on that farm. We graze up to them. We go around and the chickens are been going through where the cows have been some time. And we do have three small allowances. We’ve got a four hundred and fifty Criswell House and the whole group forms the tree so it’s a bird that actually a pair of them can eat 8000 flies per day. And so we get a lot of predation of flies and police on the natural fly you might say why repeal it by moving the cattle the when you move it over Margery is like we are leaving a lot of that fly load behind it on a smaller farm I could see where you it’s gonna be harder for you to outrun the flies. That’s why I really stay focused on two things. It isn’t very small amounts of the other one is yet slick hiding cattle. You were at cows if you take your hand and run down their back in the summer time your hand comes back oily the more oily the surface of that cow the less why she’s giving him water she’s got flies all over it’s because she didn’t shed off her winter coat sell. Don’t keep that cow that’s a wide magnet. All she is doing is bringing in more flies to attack your good animals get rid of her. She’s not gonna make you any money. She’s going to give you another fly magnet. Baby you can be the same way get rid of it.
Tim Young: [00:46:26] So are these slick cows is that a trait that you breed for when you select your breeding stock and then breed from there on.
Greg Judy: [00:46:32] Absolutely. Our breeding stock the one we use is called South Poll. Teddy Gentry damn Alabama developed it’s a four-way cross the Senepol, Barzona, Red Angus and Hereford. It’s a red hot it animal. I picked red because I wanted heat heat resistant black kind of animal eats up a lot more in the summer than a red one but also the simple cross and it gives a really oily short slick air and I mean out there on my herd and people come in. We do farm tours quite a bit. He was a Greg where’s all your flies? I said, we got some flies. He’s like, no you don’t understand where’s your flies. He said our cows are covered with like well that’s what I’ve got to see. So a lot of it is Tim you’ve got to be the Predator in your herd. Pick out the animals that don’t work and get rid of that’s good advice.
Tim Young: [00:47:25] Listen we talked about the perimeter fence on the loop the new lanes which at least buy didn’t ask you about interior in terms of portable fences and rails and I know that these have changed over the years but current your current thinking what are your preferred sources for reals in line in that post.
Greg Judy: [00:47:44] Well first of all into your fears seen as a bare minimum model very much of an outfit I’ve ripped out in the last five years probably 40000 feet I can for one headings permanent. One more panics I love or hate him but I hate him because every permanent panic you put in and you’ve got a gate and you have a gate you’ve got a mud pit trying to get through there and let go. So we don’t have hardly any permanent guarantee. We have a gear. The best one athletes interrogate. It’s a 3 to 1 ratio. And then the best wire that all is in Powerflex made here in here. Missouri. I haven’t found a poly braid out there that works as well or as long I’ve got my polybraid on so it’s real as it’s been in 15 years. Oh my goodness. Off the first hundred feet what’s underneath. It looks like spring and then it still looks like a new start up. La. You’re lucky to get three years out of play. Celebrate. It’s not that much more expensive than at last. The best that they imposed after is made by O’Brien. You can get those super for X over pin this. There was a lot of lookalikes out there so don’t be tricked into thinking you’re buying it or you’re not. It says O’Brien on the box you’re good to go But man a bunch of them out there. Don’t look like an I don’t mean they don’t perform like an O’Brien they just snap into it.
Tim Young: [00:49:11] Yeah. Now that I’ve had some exposure had too much experience pushing a pole into the ground one of those thick bottoms and stuff and all but Greg I’ve actually been in drought out there with my drill and I had to drill a hole first before I could get the post in the ground then there.
Greg Judy: [00:49:28] Been there done that. Yeah I’m gonna hold power here I’ll give you the team if you want.
Tim Young: [00:49:32] No thanks. In addition to in addition you’ve had some actually you’ve had some very helpful books for me and others I mean I know you wrote no risk branching first and then comeback farms in 2008 which is right here on my bookshelf behind me but today you’re also doing. I see that you do a fair amount of events and things like that. What what events do you do on a regular basis or do you have coming up maybe next year that people can participate in to learn more about you and what you’re doing yeah.
Greg Judy: [00:50:00] I’m just here immediately I’ve been going to the stop and grass grassfire multi species school in Scotland Charlotte North Carolina. I’m doing a two day class there. Then immediately after that class I’ll be doing a civil passionate School in Charlotte. And then I come home at my home for like a day then I go to London London Ontario Canada and I’m doing a workshop up there and then from there I’m going to the Savannah Institute in Madison Wisconsin. That’s kind of my winter schedule. Then in January I’m doing one here in Jefferson City it’s made a marathon grazing conference something and then in Indiana I think there’s one in March that I’ll be speaking.
Tim Young: [00:50:43] Are you doing another mob grazing conference with the end next year.
Greg Judy: [00:50:46] Absolutely. It’s always the first week of May. It starts on Thursday and goes through Saturday. It’s held here on Judy farms and Ian and myself. Recently our passion walks every day. We cater in the meals. It’s a great time. We have people here from all over the world. Last year we had Latin America Canada. I think race in Australia is just a really nice wide range of different people and it’s not people it or it may be integration. Thinking about getting started. So a lot of people that come and have one hundred thousand acres we may have some may come. Has he bought a farm yet. So it’s kind of nice to see that diversity of people.
Tim Young: [00:51:28] Yeah sure it’s for it. Where do people go to keep up with you and learn more about these events and the schedules and things like that.
Greg Judy: [00:51:35] We do have a Facebook page a green pass for a Facebook page and we have a Web site. http://greenpasturesfarm.net.
Tim Young: [00:51:45] That as a great name for your farm. Greg green pastures farm.
Greg Judy: [00:51:50] Yeah we got that one years ago there was a few look alikes out there that
Tim Young: [00:52:00] Yeah that’s awesome. Greg Judi thank you so much for sharing all this wisdom with us. I mean it’s incredible talking to you and love what you’re doing and can’t wait to keep up with you next year.
Greg Judy: [00:52:12] All right. I really enjoyed it and you have a great day. Thank you very much.
To share your thoughts:
- Leave a comment on my Facebook page.
- Share this show on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn
To help the show:
- PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW for Small Farm Nation on iTunes.
- Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play or TuneIn
Thanks for listening. Until next time!
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY THIS EPISODE
Podcast: Play in new window | Download