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  • Writer's pictureLara Birkes

The Next Generation of Ranching

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Why I am Passionate about Regenerative Agriculture at Thirteen

GIC Contributing Author: Maloi Lannan, Red Clover Lambs, Barney Creek Livestock

My name is Maloi and I am 13 years old. I live in Paradise Valley, Montana on my grandparent’s ranch which has been in the family for nearly 120 years. I raise pigs and sheep and enjoy studying soil health.  My family raises cattle. 

By growing-up on a ranch, I have learned a lot from my parents, which is why I am passionate about regenerative agriculture. I love it so much because I get to work with my Mom and Dad and I enjoy learning new things about the land. I also find it rewarding to discover the benefits of working WITH nature. Watching my parents, I have learned how to make sure the soil is healthy, so the grass is healthy and the cows are healthy by eating that grass, which makes for healthy people. 

Our animals are workers and we treat them with respect, kindness, and loyalty. I like ranching this way because we make sure everything is nourished, not just for people but for the Earth. This is how I became interested in raising sheep. 

Sheep are smaller than cows and easier for me to manage. The breeds I currently have are Hampshire and Texel x Ramboleit. Right now, I have fifteen feeder lambs. Out of those fifteen lambs I will sell ten to a restaurant down the road, Chico Hot Springs. The other five I have different plans for eventually. This Fall I hope to get fifteen Ewes (Texel x Targee) and a Ram (Texel x Targee.) They will be ready to breed in December of 2021. The breeding stock will be my year-round sheep flock for a couple-of-years, and I will continue to buy feeder lambs and sell them for meat.  Eventually, I would like to keep my own flock of offspring as replacement stock and for meat.  

The way my sheep are managed on the land is what makes them regenerative. I look at the landscape and determine what is needed, then decide how to graze based on what the plants and soil require to be strong and nutritious. For example, sometimes it’s best to only take a portion of the plant before moving the animals. It all depends if I need to help promote growth of a different species, maximize re-growth or ground cover. Then it’s important to let the land rest and recover before grazing it again. 

To rotationally graze the sheep I use an electric netting fence and have three 82’’ and five 164’’ fences. By doing so the land is disrupted briefly through the animal's hooves and eating, then the land is allowed to rest. This naturally aerates the soil which allows more water to penetrate the landscape, enhancing nutrients and maximizing soil health. 

The way we do things at Barney Creek Livestock lets the soil be a place for carbon to go rather than just sitting in our atmosphere, and this helps our planet. I know the soil is healthy when I see bugs pop-up everywhere. When walking around my sheep pasture I can see many spiders and dung beetles crawling around in the sheep’s manure - the sign of a healthy ecosystem. Albert is my current lead sheep and wears a bell so I can find the herd easily if they escape. I also have the help of my Australian Kelpie named Chuck. I got him from Burradoo Kelpies. He is my sheepdog and he is almost two. I love learning from him. 

I think there are many positive examples of Barney Creek’s approach that I can share so more kids like me can learn, and become inspired, to manage ranches this way in the future. Each day I discover something new about regenerative agriculture because it works with nature, not against it. I hope to be a full time rancher when I grow-up - to just do ranching every day, all day, for the rest of my life. 


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