Ute Cattle Company, in Bueyeros, N.M., has been selected as one of seven regional finalists of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP).
In 2001, Tuda Libby Crews inherited one-fifth of the family ranch and established Ute Creek Cattle Company. The 14,000-acre ranch had four large pastures, four water sources, and suffered from over-grazing and neglect.
Ten miles of Ute Creek was infested with mature, heavy-water-using salt cedar trees. Partnering with the NRCS and Ute Creek Soil & Water Conservation District, Ute Creek was fenced off to aerially treat salt cedar.
“In the last 18 years, the riparian restoration on Ute Creek is the cornerstone of conservation achievement,” said Crews. Her husband, Jack, concludes nature has effectively responded as the stream sub-irrigates the riparian area to grow rushes, sedges and grass.
EQIP created a water distribution system with two 10,000-gallon water storage tanks installed on the highest point of the ranch. More than 25 miles of 2-inch poly pipe distributes water over the ranch through gravity flow. Twenty-seven miles of permanent fence created 25 pastures for the adaptive grazing system. Even in drought years the time-managed grazing system responds to using cattle as a tool to maximize forage production and enhance healthy soil.
Crews worked with the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program and found polyurethane “shade balls,” a product that now covers nine stock tanks. On each 20-foot drinker covered with shade balls, evaporation is reduced by 91% and annually saves 16,000 gallons of underground water on each tank. Other water conserving measures include xeriscape landscaping and roof water-catchment on buildings. As innovative “early-adopters,” the Crews family is open-minded to new practices.
Jack is proud of the cowherd genetic program which has evolved into a high-quality herd of Angus cows that produce Angus Age & Source Verified, All-natural, IMI Global Certified calves.