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Innovations Mean Higher Quality Cattle for Kentucky Rancher

Charlie Masters grew up on the farm he and his wife Rose Ann now own in Mays Lick, Ky. When Charlie and Rose Ann bought it from Charlie’s father, John, in 2006, the farm needed some work, but the couple was up for the challenge.

She and her husband are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to improve the farm for their cattle—and for themselves.

Because Charlie continues to work as an aircraft salesman, Rose Ann knew that she would be the one most involved with the day-to-day operation of the farm, with its 35 head of Charolais cattle. A former teacher herself, she signed up for training, and now has her Master Cattleman Certification. Rose Ann and Charlie also came to rely on USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Rose Ann Masters discusses her Conservation Stewardship Program plan with NRCS Lead District Conservationist Tony Burnett. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

Rose Ann Masters discusses her Conservation Stewardship Program plan with NRCS Lead District Conservationist Tony Burnett. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

With NRCS’ help, the Masters’ developed a rotational grazing plan a system whereby cattle are moved between several pastures over the years. This practice helps protect plants and soil from overgrazing. To implement their plan, the couple added thousands of feet moveable electric fencing, five new watering facilities and 4,000 feet of pipeline to provide water in each pasture.

To add to their conservation practices, Rose Ann and Charlie have adjusted their application rates of nitrogen to allow pasture plants more efficiently absorb the nutrients. They also have begun to alter their mowing routes so that nesting birds and other wildlife species are flushed out before they can be run over by the equipment. These improvements have resulted in higher quality pastures, leading in turn to better Charolais.

The latest enhancement for the farm is a solar-powered water pump. The farm once had an electric pump connected to a natural spring, but a storm blew down a nearby tree and severed the pump’s power line. With NRCS’ help, the Masters’ were able to convert to a solar-powered, automatic shut-off pump.

The rotational grazing plan has really improved the farm. The Charolais graze on corn and pastures, and this year they also had nine acres of turnips to enjoy, plus hay supplements for calves and lactating cows. Rose Ann says that managing the farm has become easier and less time consuming.

What’s ahead for the Masters Charolais Farm? They plan to add some trees and mobile shade to protect the cattle from hot summer days. But Rose Ann says that these won’t be the last conservation practices they implement.

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 Rose Ann Masters, a retired educator, has been running the Masters Charolais Farm with her husband Charlie since 2006. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

Rose Ann Masters, a retired educator, has been running the Masters Charolais Farm with her husband Charlie since 2006. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

 

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