Joan Bybee raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle at Mesteño Draw Ranch in Mountainair, New Mexico. But Joan wasn’t always in the ranching business: it wasn’t until her retirement years that she decided to start raising beef cattle. “I retired after a 40-year career teaching at the university level and doing research in linguistics. I love this subject and still do research and writing, but I need my land, my cattle and my calves to bring me peace of mind,” she explains.
After retirement, Joan’s first goal was to restore her land, particularly the riparian zones and rangeland on the ranch. Luckily, her grandfather had raised cattle in southwest Texas, so Joan knew that well-managed grazing animals have a beneficial impact on the land. “I’ve been rejuvenating the ranch and focusing on the riparian areas with erosion control through Induced Meandering treatments, brush removal and managed grazing,” Joan explains. “Due to many factors that include drought, fire suppression, juniper invasion and year-round grazing, the creek no longer has a perennial flow… but it’s getting better!”
For Joan, taking care of her land and animals is of the upmost importance—and that’s why becoming Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW for her beef cattle was a key goal: “Of course, most farmers and ranchers love getting their hands dirty with the physical tasks, but success comes from the extensive knowledge that leads to good management,” she says. The cattle at Mesteño Draw Ranch live together in social groups outdoors on pasture, where the calves stay with their mothers. They are managed with horses or on foot, ensuring low-stress handling. Additionally, they eat grasses and forbs, the natural diet for the unique digestive systems of ruminants.
Joan understands the benefit of raising animals in this way for their health, but also for the environmental considerations: “A diet of grazed grass requires much less fossil fuel and water than the feedlot diet of corn and soy. On pasture, grazing animals do their own fertilizing and harvesting,” she says. “The ground is covered with vegetation all year round, so it does an excellent job of harvesting solar energy and holding on to top soil, moisture and atmospheric carbon.” Joan looks forward to continuing to provide high-quality beef to her local community, as well as seeing her land transform for the better in the process.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW beef cattle from Mesteño Draw Ranch is available through the website at newmexicograssfedbeef.com, with pick-up points in Albuquerque, Mountainair and Santa Fe. For more information, contact Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org.