Hay bales at the Hein Ranch in central North Dakota aren’t piled up in the yard at home in December. They are set out at a certain distance to each other in several different pastures for their cattle to do bale grazing this winter.

Some Northern Plains ranchers are letting beef cows graze on bales, cover crops and grass out in winter pastures as a way to keep cattle healthier, improve soil health and often lower feed costs, according to Josh Dukart, certified holistic management educator and rancher near Hazen, ND.

“We’re not trying to bring the feed to the cows; we’re trying to bring the cows to the feed and let them have at it,” Dukart says. “Some planning and strategy has to go along with it and each operation is different. We’re not looking at any one item, whether it is marketing or calving dates; we’re looking at the whole big picture and seeing what model can move the operation forward.”

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