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K-line Irrigation quickly became the best solution for North Star Land & Cattle to fit within their MIG plan
John Sattler is the owner and operator of North Star Land & Cattle, a 2200 acre cow/calf and stocker operation in the hills of East Texas that raises an F1 Brahma-Hereford breed. John also operates North Star Outfitters (www.nstaroutfitters.com) as an opportunity to share the beautiful landscape and wildlife that this ranch offers with the public. North Star Outfitters hosts Wild Boar Archery Hunts from their state of the art, luxurious lodge on the ranch.
John started North Star Land & Cattle with 2 main goals. The first goal is to establish a profitable cattle operation that focuses on providing hormone free, grass fed cattle to an ever growing health conscious market. The second goal is to be a steward of the land and achieve his goals while being conscious of the environment around him, and by leaving the land in better condition than when he found it. To accomplish these goals John decided the best way to build this cattle ranch was by using a Managed Intensive Grazing strategy to use the land on the ranch in the most efficient way possible. This meant dividing the ranch into manageable paddock sizes of 10 to 15 acres with clean, easily accessible water, and abundant, reliable, high quality forage. A key component to having reliable forage in East Texas is having the ability to irrigate that forage to maintain healthy and consistent growth throughout the growing season.
K-line Irrigation quickly became the best solution for North Star Land & Cattle to fit within their MIG plan. The greatest challenge that John faced was finding an irrigation system that would apply the water efficiently to the severe slopes that were a part of this beautiful 2200 acre landscape. The area that would be best served by irrigation was a 140 acre pasture split up into 12 separate 10 to 12 acre paddocks. This pasture had an elevation change of 120ft from the lowest elevation to the highest elevation with slopes as high as a 5% grade. The K-line fit into John’s specific pasture layouts that allow him to move his cattle easily and efficiently from paddock to paddock.
The K-line system was designed to irrigate the 140 acres with 26 lines providing the opportunity to apply 1.5” of water to the pasture per week. With the use of a K-line Quick Shifter trailer, John is able to move all of the K-line on this pasture in a time frame of 2 hours per day. This means it takes less than 5 minutes per line to move the K-line to the next set.
2005 and 2006 were very dry years in East Texas and the pastures did not receive enough natural rainfall to provide adequate forage to give the cattle the nourishment they needed to maintain the proper gain per day. This meant very high feed costs to ship in the proper feed to maintain a healthy heard. This turned into additional costs up into the hundreds of thousands for the summer of 2005.
By 2006 John had the irrigation system in place and running. By irrigating his Tifton 85 Bermuda grass, John was able to rotate a total of 500 head of steers and heifers through this 140 acre irrigated pasture without supplementing. This was a phenomenal achievement. The animals were turned out on the pasture in May at a weight of approximately 450 pounds per animal. They averaged 2.2 pounds of gain per day through this drought season by rotating them through the 11 pastures in 2 groups. This meant the grass was able to be grazed once approximately every 7 days. The irrigation along with the management that John was applying allowed him to raise a quality product on a small acreage when the rest of the ranch barely had enough moisture to keep the grass alive.
John has been very satisfied with the performance of his K-line Irrigation System. North Star Land & Cattle now has over 300 acres irrigated with K-line. This has allowed them to explore opportunities that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. One of these opportunities is a commercial grass hay business that has diversified the ranch beyond cattle and hunting.