Cattle do more than provide beef, milk and leather – they help provide friendly environments for other animals and conserve natural areas where people can hike, bike and camp.
Beef farmers and ranchers are committed to raising cattle in responsible ways, including taking care of the land – just like Scouts. The health of the land improves the health of the cattle, which in turn helps the health of the local environment.
Ten-year-old Marcus Schultz, a Webelos Scout in Pack 198 in Battle Creek, Neb., helps on his family ranch to improve the land using cattle. He is always eager to jump in, including his daily chores of feeding the cattle, rabbits and chickens.
“I like being with the animals and being outside; it’s nice and calm,” Marcus says. “It may seem like it’s hard, but I’ve been doing it for a while. It takes responsibility to do it without help.”
Marcus practices the characteristics of the Scout Law – to be trustworthy, helpful, thrifty and more – while caring for his animals.
Similarly, responsible stewardship is what beef farmers and ranchers do. When Scouts work toward the Sustainability merit badge, they learn to leave the outdoors better than they found it. Cattle producers also seek to improve the land in their care. Many create habitats for wildlife, monitor and enhance water quality that nourishes natural ecosystems and use their cattle to make landscapes healthier.
For example, adding cattle manure to soil increases soil organic matter. It’s a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium, all of which help plants grow.
Most of the water used in beef production is rainwater, which is primarily used for crop irrigation. Farmers and ranchers continue to improve irrigation methods to efficiently grow crops. In some cases, cattle ranchers are even able to create cleaner drinking water for cities!
And land devoted to grazing offers homes for animals, like ducks and deer. These natural areas, sustained in part by local farmers and ranchers, are places to enjoy, whether you’re hiking, bird-watching or camping.
It turns out that cattle ranchers and Scouts have a lot in common!
Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.