One hundred and twenty five years of sound cowboy logic has culminated in two prestigious environmental stewardship awards for OH Ranch Ltd. of Longview, Alberta.
The OH Ranch team was recognized by its peers as the recipient of the Alberta Beef Producers’ environmental stewardship award at the annual meeting in December. Two months earlier the ranch had captured the provincial government’s Growing Alberta Leadership Award in the environmental category.
Leading up to the awards, in September the province of Alberta announced that OH Ranch had been designated a protected heritage rangeland site. This will preserve significant fescue ecosystems, and of equal importance, the traditional ranching way of life and practices that have fostered the southern Alberta prairie for more than a century.
Truly, it’s been an unprecedented year for the historic OH Ranch, which has been owned by Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman since 1987. His son, Bob Seaman, who still owns and operates the family’s original ranch at Turner Valley as well as a hay export business, became president of OH Ranch in 2005. That year also saw the retirement of Bud Maynard, who had been OH Ranch manager since 1988. Todd Snodgrass has carried on as general manager since that time and his wife, Tricia, is the administrator. Rob and Shelley Lippert joined the crew in 2006 and also live at the OH Longview home base. Robert Hoff has been the foreman at OH Dorothy since 1993, while Cody Veilleux has been the foreman at OH Bassano since 2000.
Bob Seaman gives credit for the recent recognition of the OH Ranch’s environmental stewardship efforts to his predecessors and the team that has looked after the day-to-day operations for the past 21 years. “We take pride in our understanding of where we’re at. You can have access to all the science in the world, but it’s also cowboy logic that guides the decision making. Cowboy logic is common sense — a mentality that evolves over time that helps in the decision making process,” he explains.
Designation as a heritage rangeland site and the environmental stewardship awards have brought OH Ranch’s grazing management practices into the limelight. The grazing and breeding programs have evolved in tandem throughout the years of Seaman’s ownership.
The shift toward sustainable grazing practices, conservative stocking rates and optimum production was shepherded in by Maynard. Up until his time, the ranch had been managed for maximum production under a conventional grazing system. An evaluation of the pastures indicated that there was over use in some areas and under use in others.
A program of rest-rotation was implemented, whereby under-utilized pastures were grazed heavily to rejuvenate the stands and over-utilized pastures were rested, sometimes for as long as two years. The company