Project Goal: To improve the grassland and the water supply, resulting in a sustainable rangeland that supports biodiversity and protects the natural habitat for animals and plants.
The rangelands of Swanton Pacific Ranch support two successful cattle operations: the SPR Grass-fed Natural Beef Program and a seasonal Stocker Enterprise. The rangelands include coastal prairie, grasslands, and coastal chaparral habitat, which accounts for roughly 1,600 acres, located primarily on the western side of the Scotts Creek watershed.
The ranch uses a holistic management approach in their livestock operations. This includes "Planned Grazing" practices which monitor environmental conditions, (water, soil, and biodiversity) and time cattle movement to minimize impacts, promote native perennial grass diversity, and ensure pasture recovery
The Natural Grass-fed Beef program accounts for 75-125 head on the ranch year round; this includes the cow-calf herd. The Stocker Enterprise brings an additional 450-550 head to the ranch from February through June. Stocker cattle provide a small supplemental income to the ranch along with valuable student experience.
Each quarter Cal Poly students are actively involved in the livestock operations. The Stocker Enterprise is a six month commitment giving students valuable experience in the stocker cattle industry. Internship positions and short courses that focus on sustainable rangeland and livestock management are also offered throughout the year.
All livestock educational opportunities are designed to provide hands-on experience in: low stress livestock handling, basic livestock production, problem solving, and sustainable/adaptive land management techniques. The consideration of water, soil quality and livestock condition while supporting rangeland ecosystem processes and wildlife biodiversity is the foundation of holistic land management practices.