Rancher sets pasture on fire, hopes nutritious food for cattle will rise from ashes

A rancher in Sherman County set his pasture on fire Thursday, and watched it go up in flames. He hopes more nutritious food for his cattle will rise from the ashes.

While it may seem counter intuitive, the owner says burning his property is an investment in his business.

"If we're all really wanting to produce more food, that's one way to do it," said Robert Shulte, who owns the pasture in Hazard, NE.

With one strike, 160 acres of summer grazing pasture was turned to dust.

"This is the grass we don't want here," said Schulte.

Schulte wants to kill off weeds and cedar trees to make room for native plants, which are more nutritious for grazing cattle.

"You're going to get more grass for the cows, and if you have more grass for the cows you'll have more weight on the calves when you eat them in the fall," said Schulte.

He says cedar trees soak up so much moisture and nutrients from the soil, it’s best to get rid of them so those resources go to the pasture and ultimately the cattle.

"Today we're doing a training prescribed burn for land owners," said David Carr, range manager specialist for the Central Platte Natural Resources District. "We help with training burns like this, to help get people some experience so they know how to do things the right way."

Carr says prescribed burning is a vital tool for ranchers.

"We're working towards having a land owner prescribed burn association, where land owners help each other do the burns and are experienced and know what they're doing, " said Carr.

To find out how you can be a part of the next workshop, click here.

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