When Dan Moore and his family won the 2015 Conservation Farm Family of the year award in Wake County, he didn’t even know there was such an award.
“Apparently it’s a big deal,” he said.
Marking its 49th Annual Conservation Awards Celebration, Wake District’s Board of Supervisors honored Wake County citizens who have gone the extra mile in natural resource conservation, communications and education.
Moore bought the farm, he calls, “the ninja cow farm” from his parents, who once owned it.
He had sought out the help of Wake Soil & Water Conservation District to help fix his erosion problems. He had big deep ditches in his farm from years of erosion. They gave him a a program and plan to help fix his farm. Moore added on to that program by changing from traditional farming methods to a more innovative conservation method, that he said he learned from other farmers.
Teresa Hice, a conservationist for Wake Soil & Water Conservation District, said he won because of his cost-effective and innovative techniques. He also helps teach others his techniques.
Now Moore’s beef cows and calves move each day into a paddock of fresh grass, graze it intensively and move on the next day.
It’s called ‘mob grazing.’
By the time the cows get back to the first spot it started at 30 days ago, manure left over from the cattle seep into the ground new grass has grown.
Moore said it yields healthier top soil, which produces healthier grass and healthier cows. It also reduces erosion.
“Because they’re controlled in a confined area but only for a very short period of time, there is no concentration,” Moore said. “They do their thing one day and move on to the next one. By the time they move around the farm, the poop is gone.
“It’s a holistic approach,” Hice added. “By using the forage, the cattle are healthier than if they are grain fed by using rotational grazing. They spread their manure across landscape evenly so that it is a fertilizer instead of a contaminant.”
It’s different that ‘factory farming’ or placing many animals in a small space.
“If cattle are left in one spot for more than four days, then the roots – at that point – are expending energy to send up new blades of grass,” Hice explained. “The cattle prefer the new grass over the older grass and will actively search it out and eat it. And that removes the plants ability to absorb energy from the sun to send back to the roots to replenish the energy that the roots had to expend. The root mass dies and grass is weaker.
“When we have droughts we lose whole pastures from overgrazing,” she added.
Moore has a wife, two daughters and a son.
All five family members were recognized for outstanding conservation on their Ninja Cow Farm. They all help out on the farm when they aren’t studying. Moore and his family will move on to an area competition. If he wins that he will move on to regional, then state competitions.