The Cutting Edge, Ian Mitchell-Innes


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Ian Mitchell-Innes.  Innes is a rancher who has been using holistic management for over 20 years on his ranch in South Africa. In his own words, Ian has “made mistakes and wishes to share with ranchers and farmers how to avoid costly mistakes.”  Ian is teaching others to use holistic management and mob grazing to improve the quality of their finished animal, to improve pastures, and to ultimately make cattle ranches more profitable.   To say his presentation was inspiring would be a great understatement.  I left the workshop and drove immediately to my ranch to make some changes to my rotation.  During the clinic, he refused to give any specific numbers; he just spoke about grazing, about cattle, about grass, and about the return we get for our work with animals.  He is a walking talking quote machine, and I present for your consideration a list of my favorite quotes from the day:

“Whether you like it or not we are in the energy business”

“I’m no expert.  Experts know it all.  Truthfully, in the subject I am teaching, I’ll never know it all.”

“A cow has no need to breed, she just wants to live for that day.”

“Most people would rather go broke slowly than change”

“Anything that is stressed breeds.   Grass goes to seed, seed means lost value.  Keep your grasses in a vegetative state.”

“When you are feeding an animal you are not feeding the animal, you are feeding the bacteria in the rumen.  Bacteria feed better on non-lignified material.”

“Animals need parasites as part of their immune system.”

“Expensive food changes governments.”

“You get a better return from trampled grass on the ground then you do from putting it through the animal.”

“Plan for what you want, manage what you have.”

“All formulas fail to manage chaos.  You must remain flexible.”

“If there is ever a problem at the farm, look in the mirror.”

“Question every time you have got to spend money.”

“Spend more time with your livestock watching them.”

I encourage anyone interested in grazing and learning how to lower your overhead costs using holistic management to attend one of Ian Mitchell-Innes workshops.  There are a lot of paradigms we have to change when it comes to way that we raise our livestock and these guys are at the forefront of innovation in the field of grass farming (pun intended).


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