NACD’s Soil Health Champions Network: Sims Family & Sims Cattle Company of McFadden, WY
WASHINGTON D.C. – November 5, 2019 – The Sims Family owns and operates the Sims Cattle Company on a 26,000-acre ranch in McFadden, Wyo. The family operation includes Scott and April Sims, their daughter Kendra, their son Shanon and his wife Melinda, as well as their grandkids Kagan and Jentry. Former NACD President Olin Sims, Scott’s brother, was also a part of the family business up until he passed away in 2007.
The Sims’ ranch consists of mostly upland pasture, where they run 700 head of Angus/Simmental/Gelbvieh cross-bred cows and 300 yearlings. At an altitude of 7,200 feet, the Sims have a short growing season of 45–50 days and long winters, with approximately 16 inches of annual precipitation. Such conditions require special management to achieve healthy soils, healthy forage, healthy cattle, a healthy environment and a healthy bottom line.
Scott and Olin studied at an Allan Savory holistic management school, where they learned the principles of holistic management decision-making and planned grazing, which—once implemented—have helped transform the ranch into what it is today.
For six months of the year, the Sims practice rotational grazing. The ranch is divided into 140 pastures, allowing the cattle to rotate every 1-14 days and the pastures to rest for as many as 800 days between grazing events.
For four months each year, the cattle graze on windrows of hay – the practice of cutting the hay and leaving it on the land rather than baling and distributing it as needed. Not only does this practice extend the grazing season for the cattle without the cost of feeding hay with a tractor, but it also efficiently spreads the manure or natural fertilizer throughout the fields. In 2017, Melinda was featured on the Working Cows podcast, where she explained both the benefits and challenges of this grazing practice.
Finally, for two months of the year during the calving season, the cattle are fed hay, which falls right before the spring green-up.