Grazing Grass Podcast : Sharing Stories of Regenerative Ag

Join me as I sit down with Nathan Stucky from Stucky Family Ranch for a fascinating look into the world of grass-fed beef farming. Nathan shares his journey from economics student to cattle rancher, detailing the establishment of his family-operated ranch and the humorous trials of treating a cow for pink eye. Listen in as we discuss the strategic decisions behind choosing the right cattle breeds for grass-fed Wagyu production and how the right genetic cocktail can yield both premium pricing and exceptional marbling.

As we wander through the pastures of knowledge, Nathan and I tackle the technicalities of setting up solar-powered electric fencing and the importance of strategic breeding practices, including artificial insemination. Discover how choosing the right time to breed and calve can have significant economic impacts and why taste tests were crucial in selecting Wagyu as the breed of choice. Hear our experiences with remote-controlled energizers and why having calm cattle can make all the difference during breeding season.

For those looking to step into the boots of a cattle farmer, this episode is packed with insights and advice. From understanding your land's resources to community engagement and defining your market strategy, we cover the essentials for newcomers to the industry. Nate from Stuckie Family Ranch also offers his contact for those eager to learn more about the cattle farming adventure. Whether you're a seasoned rancher or just curious about where your beef comes from, this episode promises a hearty serving of practical know-how and personal anecdotes from the field.


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Creators & Guests

Cal Hardage

What is Grazing Grass Podcast : Sharing Stories of Regenerative Ag?

The Grazing Grass Podcast features insights and stories of regenerative farming, specifically emphasizing grass-based livestock management. Our mission is to foster a community where grass farmers can share knowledge and experiences with one another. We delve into their transition to these practices, explore the ins and outs of their operations, and then move into the "Over Grazing" segment, which addresses specific challenges and learning opportunities. The episode rounds off with the "Famous Four" questions, designed to extract valuable wisdom and advice. Join us to gain practical tips and inspiration from the pioneers of regenerative grass farming.

This is the podcast for you if you are trying to answer: What are regenerative farm practices? How to be grassfed? How do I graze other species of livestock? What's are ways to improve pasture and lower costs? What to sell direct to the consumer?

Welcome to the Grazing
Grass Podcast Episode 93.

we ended up just basically doing

a taste test to figure out this
is exactly where we wanted to go.

Cal: You're listening to the Grazing Grass
Podcast, helping grass farmers learn from

grass farmers, and every episode features
a grass farmer and their operation.

I'm your host, Cal Hardage.

On today's episode we have Nathan
Stucky of Stucky Family Ranch and we

talk about the process he took to get
started in the grass fed beef industry

and why he made those
decisions to go that way.

It's a great episode and
I think you'll enjoy it.

Before we get started,
10 seconds about my farm.

This is the time of year I'm just
dreaming about green grass, wondering

how soon I can start grazing.

I'm trying to plan for the year, but
also we are getting ready to sell sheep

or lambs that we lambed out last year.

We'll be taking those to
market later this week.

Not much there, but enough of that.

Let's talk to Nathan.

Cal: Nate, we want to welcome
you to the Grazing Grass Podcast.

We're excited you're here today.

Nathan: Well, thank
very much for having me.

I'm excited to be on.

Cal: Nate, to get started, can
you tell us a little bit about

yourself and your operation?


Nathan: Sure.

I am a, I guess you would call it a once
removed rancher, generationally wise.

Um, had both grandparents on my
mom and dad's side, both cattle.

Kind skipped a generation, but I've
had that itch or that b to always

want to do it since I was little.

And so that kind of led me to being here.

I live in Kansas City.

Our ranch is in Fort Scott,
which is southeast Kansas.

Kind of went the unconventional
route of getting into this by

studying at KU as opposed to
sitting at Kansas State, which is

big Ag school in, in Kansas.

Um, and then just kind
of worked my way into.

Into being where I'm at.

Track 1: So what was your
field of study at ku?

I studied economics.

Track 1: Oh, study economics.

That's, that's a pretty good background.

Um, going into agriculture.

It is, It's,

kind of,

Track 1: yeah.

I guess you would say more just

kind of looking big picture or

expanding your horizons as opposed
to narrowing your field of study.

And here we are.

Track 1: True.


So when did you, um, you've
always had this itch.

Did your, your grandparents, did
you visit their farms ranches as

a kid and that kind of built that
desire to have something of your own?

I did, so my grandpa raised cattle

until I was probably five or six and
started with, we lived kind of on, I

don't know if I would call it a farm,
but we had some acres and I got a.

Bucket calf when I was three,

which kind of helped, helped, helped drive
that desire and want to, to raise cattle.

So, and then I did, I did a few
things in high school with buying

steers when I was, you know, 15, 16.

We put 'em on pasture from the spring
and then we'd sell 'em in the fall.

Track 1: Oh yes.

had a little bit of experience with

ranching, I guess, I mean, to some
degree, or some experience with cattle.

But this was a completely new adventure
and operation that we jumped into.

Track 1: And when did you jump into it?

So we jumped into it in 21.

And when I say we, it is our family ranch.

It's my brother, sister, and I,
they are silent partners, kind of

some financial backing to help.

The operation.

I am the president, if you will.

I'm also the day-to-Day laborer
and everything in between.

Track 1: Well, first off, I have to
say I'm really impressed if I was on

a venture with my brother and sister,
it'd be hard to keep 'em silent.

So good job there.

Well, I will say that's, that's, it's

kind of a funny story is that they
were to start very much silent and

then one day I had to have my brother
come out to help me at the ranch and

had to treat a cow for, for pink Eye

and, went down and, um,
contact neighbors first.

Nobody could help me.

Ended up having to rely on
him, took him down with me.

Um, and I told him, Hey, we've got
this, this cow that's got pink eye.

We're gonna go out, we're gonna
las so it hold it tight and I'm

gonna spray its eyes with pink eye.

And he, he goes, fine.

I'll go down and I'll help you
with this as we're, as we're

heading down to the ranch.

He asked me, so how many
times have you done this?

And I

Track 1: Oh

oh, I've never done this before.

I bought the lasso today.

And so then he immediately was
like, oh my gosh, like, you have

no idea where you're getting into.

And I'm like, no, I don't.

we got down there, get kind of,
you know, we get the cows close.

I try to lasso, I miss, brother gets
fed up with me trying, says, gimme

the lasso, I'm gonna get the cow.

He goes over there, lassos the cow,
looks at me like, Hey, look what I did.

And that cow takes off like a shot

Track 1: Oh,

him through the pasture.

Track 1: oh, no.

And I am, I am, I'm giggling so hard

that I couldn't even have sprayed
the cow, had he got him right.

Track 1: Right.


And so after

that he, he basically said, I'm,
I'm not coming down again, and

I'm not, I'm not gonna do any more
manual labor with you down here.

Track 1: Oh yeah,

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: I said,
that's, that's, that's pretty fair.

I understand your stance on that now.

Track 1: yeah.

My, my brother comes out sometimes.

My sister does too, and they'll help
whenever we do dad's cows, but usually

once every few years they come out and
then they're, they help a little bit,

and then they're good for a while.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

It's gonna be a lot of coaxing before I
get my brother to come down there again.

Track 1: Yes.


So to get started in 21, were you
able to buy some land to get started

or you find a property to lease?

So we bought some land.

We had a, a friend of ours who he
bought 40 acres, um, in Fort Scott.

And then this, the parcel
that we bought, which is 60.

Catty cornered him and came for
sale and he said, Hey, I think

this is a really good opportunity.

You guys should look at it.

So we went down and viewed
it, liked everything about it,

and decided to get started.

Track 1: Oh, yes.


Well, very good.

And when you got this
property, um, was it fenced?

What'd you have in place and what'd
you have to do to get it ready?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Calling
it fenced is questionable at best.

We, we had walked it when we first
looked at it and saw a bunch of cow

droppings in the pasture and the,
the realtor agent showing us the

property said, well, the fence is good.

No cattle have gotten in here.

So we kind of knew that's not
a hundred percent accurate.


Track 1: Oh yeah.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: when
we bought it, we decided let's clear

the fence rows all the way back and
put in five strand high tensile wire.

Track 1: And that go pretty good for you?

It did it, it went well.

Um, cleared a lot of
areas and issues back.

I mean, I don't know how old
that fence was, probably 70, 80

years old.

Everything was growing through it.

I mean, there was no way
to really rebuild it.

It was gonna be just kind of patchwork
at best and getting through there.

So we just made the executive
decision, let's just kind of start

over and get everything outta here
so that we're not constantly having

to go in and repair and update and
replace and just kind of be fresh.

Track 1: oh yeah.


And when you, you found that land,
did you get it with the thought

you're gonna do grass fed or
you, you're going to cow calf?

What was your initial
thoughts on livestock?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

The initial thought was we were
going to do cow calf operation.

Um, I'd kind of done a bunch
of research going into it

and knew what I wanted to do.

So it was just kind of getting
it ready to be operational.

That would make sense for us.

Track 1: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

And at this time, uh, were you
familiar with some ity practices?

Had you read some, where was your
journey on that kind of knowledge?

In fairness, not a hundred percent.

I knew that I wanted to do grass fed
because that gave me a competitive

advantage being a small farmer as
compared to trying to compete with

the big boys and their operations.

Track 1: right, yeah.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So
that's where we kind of got started.

And then from there, it was a lot of
reading, a lot of research, a lot of

YouTube, all those things that kind
of led me down this regenerative path.

Track 1: Very good.

Did you, um, getting started,
did you know what direction

you wanted to go with cattle?

With breeds of livestock?

So I'd done a bunch of research

on that leading into it.

And I knew I wanted to do American
Wagyu 'cause I felt like there was

a really good premium there for that
product, especially on grass Fed.

Knew from research that a hundred
percent Wagyu doesn't do well on


And also what it cost to buy registered.


Wagyu cattle are pretty
gosh darn expensive.

Track 1: oh yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: trying
to find a happy median between, um,

you know, knowing that we wanted to
have a Wagyu incorporated into it,

but also needed cattle that are gonna
produce on grass and finding, finding

the right genetics that made that work.

Track 1: So how'd you go about that?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Honestly
a lot of Googling and just searching.

Um, I just started kind of
looking up farmers in our area.

I, I had looked up red Devon from
everything that I've seen about

them on grass and actually ended up
calling a red Devon breeder not too

far from us, about a couple hours.

And that was a hundred percent
grass fed and said, Hey, this

is kind of what I'm looking at.

I want to do red.

Devon crossed with red
Wagyu with the Akai.

And I kind of thought I, from Googling
at least back then, which a couple

years ago was kind of on the only
one that kind of had thought of that.

And then when I talked to them, they
said, oh, we're actually starting to cross

some of our cattle with, with Akaushi.

And so then we worked out a
deal to purchase some from them.

Track 1: Oh yes, very good.

And we looked at, I think,
Akash, uh, how'd you say that?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

Akaushi, it's it's confusing.

I just say red Wagyu.

That makes a lot more sense.

Track 1: yeah.

Well, I look at it, I pronounce, I have
trouble pronouncing words anyway, so throw

in a weird spelling and it's got an issue.

We had looked at the red, um, just to
incorporate into limousine on dad's

herd and try it out, and then we never.

We thought we may AI some and we
ended up not going down that path.

Now I've got a neighbor that, that has
some, um, at least he's got a, I think

he's got a percentage bull and I haven't
got a chance to look at it and see, but

I'm, I'm interested in how that goes.

So you were able to get some red
Wagyu crossed with red Devon.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yes.


And so that kind of, for us.

Felt like the perfect combination.

We've got grass genetics from the
Devon crossed with the red Wagyu for

the marbling and the name and the end
product that it made a lot of sense to go

down this, this path with these cattle.

Track 1: I've got a little
tangent to go on real quick.

Wagyu, have you ate Wagyu
steaks and meat before?

Yes, I have What's your,

Track 1: I have not.

Oh, you have it.

Track 1: No, I haven't.

So I've, I've heard lots of things,
but I've just, I just haven't, so

is it as good as what people say?

I think so.

If you get the right genetics and
they've done it the right way.


Now I will caveat that with, there are
times where it feels like it kind of

the term Wagyu, where the brand Wagyu
gets watered down when you see it

Track 1: Oh, yeah.

with somebody like Arby's came out

with Wagyu burgers or something.

Track 1: oh.


And that's more my price range

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: right.

Which is, I mean, I get it, but I
think if you, if, if you find people

that do it right, you, you can find a
phenomenal product there what people

are willing to pay for that product
is, is substantially higher than

what they will pay for anything else.

Especially 'cause people
have heard that term

Track 1: Right,

that, that makes them want it.

Um, and, and there are some really good
other operations that you can, you can get

Wagyu, uh, grass fed from too out there.

Track 1: Well, and, and like you
mentioned there, public perception and

perception is reality for so many people.

Um, so there already have this
belief where they're being told

this is, is top quality beef.

And then when they have it.

It's confirmation bias.

I mean, Angus does really good
steaks, really good meat, but at

the same time, you can do a lot
of good things with other breeds.

But Angus has done a tremendous job
in marketing angus certified beef.

Yes, they have.

I mean, they're definitely the
top association for marketing.

I mean, they

Track 1: Oh yeah,

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: of
just about anybody else out there

with, with a breed association

for what they are able to go ahead.

Track 1: yeah.


They've just done a great job.

I recall in the, I wanna say
late eighties, early nineties,

probably late eighties would be
more accurate, maybe mid eighties.

Um, the dairy industry, I.

Really promoting butter, real
butter and margarine was coming

out and had been out and it was
taking some of the market share.

And it was really a concern.

But the dairy industry, in my opinion,
and I don't have the big picture, we

were milking a few cows, in my opinion.

They approached it wrong.

They didn't start, um, doing any
blended products or anything.

They were just so anti margarine and,
and anything that's not real butter.

And they, and in my opinion, they
should have embraced some of that

and, um, capture some of that market
early on rather than giving it all up.

But hindsight, that's, that's my opinion.

And I don't have a lot
of numbers to speak for.

That's just always what I
thought they should have done.

But Angus has done a tremendous
job because they got on board of

marketing their meat or beef early.

I, I couldn't say when, but early.

And they've just done a
tremendous job of that.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah,
they have the CAB label that can get

put on beef, sells 'em for a premium.

I mean, people see it when they go to
grocery stores, when they're going.

I think even McDonald's
had it for a while.

I don't

Track 1: Oh yeah.

or not, but, um, people are

willing to pay for that.

So if they, you know,
they, now I will tell you.

For the average consumer between an Angus,
a Hereford, red Devon, whatever breed you

have, you put the beef out there, they're
probably not gonna tell a difference.

But that association has
done a phenomenal job

promoting, promoting that product.

Track 1: I, I struggle because I
grew up on Holstein beef, and I just

think that's the greatest thing ever.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

I mean, I think if you get,

if, if you buy your beef from small,
local farm town, you know, ranches

and farmers, it's probably gonna
be a lot better product than you're

gonna get going to the grocery store.


Track 1: Oh yeah, yeah.

Holstein, Longhorn, Wagyu, Angus,

whatever it is, it's just a, it's
just a better eating experience


Track 1: Yes.

Okay, let's jump back now.

Uh, so you had the opportunity,
you got some red Devons, some

red Wagyu, um, crosses there.

You bring them on your farm.

How'd that go?

It went well.

So they are from grass fed
operation like we wanna run.

So it wasn't too much of a change for
them to get used to what we were doing.

They were used to rotational grazing.

They were used to not being pumped with
a bunch of antibiotics or chemicals

or anything like that, which is what
we were very about and we don't do.

So that that made the transition
very smooth to have them

incorporate onto our ranch.

They pretty much hopped off the trailer
ready to go like it was day one.

We didn't have to do a whole lot
of doctoring or anything like

Track 1: Oh yeah.

When you brought 'em on, did you,
were they, um, cows, bred heifers?

What'd you buy?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So we
bought predominantly yearling heifers and

then we bought a few steers just for
having something we could finish out and

kind of test the market with, if you will.

Track 1: Oh yeah.

Because if you start with cows and you're
gonna raise calves and you're gonna

finish those calves for your grass fed
market, you're talking four years down

the road before you have a product.

Right, exactly.

For us too, especially with me
being first time jumping into cow

calf, I wanted, I knew what I wanted
to get to, which was, we're gonna

breed them, we're gonna do this.

But I wanted to just have cattle
on the property and give me six

months of working with them.

And being around them and just
experiencing what happens with cattle.

Track 1: oh yeah.

started to focus on breeding and

producing calves for going forward,

Track 1: So that those first six months,
let's talk about that just a little bit.

Was there anything that you're
like, oh, I, I didn't realize this.

flightiness, I guess would

be one in the beginning.

Track 1: Oh, okay.


having them not used to a new

person, being out there and

getting them to be comfortable with
somebody new in a new environment.

And even though they came from grass fed
rotationally, grazed system, still getting

them to respect temporary hot wire, having
to go out there and get them back into

paddocks and that sort of stuff was all.

All new and an all a big
challenge for for a while.

Track 1: I just, uh, purchased a few,
uh, Corriente Longhorn cross heifers

that are bred, and I brought them home
and the guy I, I purchased them from,

I purchased animals from him in the
past and he has electric fence, but he

doesn't, he doesn't do rotational grazing
or use polywire or polybraid like I do.

Well, I got those heifers home
and of course the weather turned

cold because I got 'em home.

I guess last Saturday I went and got 'em.

It could have been Friday anyway,
weather turned code, I put 'em

out there, my electric fence.

Is not going good.

Um, I, I've gone around it, I went
around it today, but it's not shocking

them as hot as it should, and I've
gotta do some more tracing out there.

But they're not respecting my fence
at all, which normally what I do, if I

bring in an animal, I put 'em in a pen.

I have up at the house near our
corral, and I put electric fence

across it, and I give 'em a few days.

But I thought, well, they,
they come from this gentleman.

I've had good luck in
the past with his cattle.

I'll just put 'em out there.

Um, they, I mean, within five
minutes of being up there, they'd

stuck their head under a fence

like, no, that, that's on me.

I should have kept 'em at the house.

Should have strung an
electric fence out there.

Made sure it was really hot.

Let 'em touch it a couple times, but.

The weather was changing.

I thought I want to get 'em up there.

It's about a mile from our corral.

So I thought I want to get 'em moved.

And um, you know, always whenever you
try and hurry and you don't do stuff

quite like you need to, you find out
you should have done it the right way.


That was, I mean, one of the things

for us is that we don't have any,
we don't have any corral structure.

We have, it's just acres and fences.


Track 1: Oh yeah.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: to
learn by trial of fire basically, you

know, of getting used to getting used to

Track 1: Oh


nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: and
you'll have also, you know, kind of one

of the frustrating things of running
single braid or polywire is you'll

have deer hit it that aren't used to

Track 1: Oh, we have.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: seeing
that all of a sudden just shows up

in the pasture, that sort of thing.

Um, but if you keep with it,
eventually they'll, they'll respect it.

As long as, I know it sounds
like you kind of had a little

issue with fence not staying hot.

And we've had that issue too.

We don't, we don't have any
electricity to the ranch,

so everything is off solar panel.

Um, and when we first put that
in, didn't know anything about

solar panels, didn't understand.

How much we needed and that sort of thing.

And fence would stay hot for a day or
two and then it'd die and then we'd

have issues and that sort of thing.

But now we've kind of learned and
worked through that, that we are,

we're to the point to where if the
fence goes out, the cattle will

still respect it and not come close

Track 1: Oh yeah.

for a while.

Which is, which is kind of what I wanted.

You know, we live over
an hour from the ranch.

I need something that I know
with the electricity fails.

having that five strand fence
is still gonna keep them in.

Track 1: Right.


And, and that's the great thing.

Once you get 'em trained, even power
goes out for a little bit or something,

um, it's usually not a problem.


So just on that, that subject,
what do you have as a energizer?

How do you have it set up so
that you're, you're making sure

you're getting that fence hot?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So
we have Speedrite energizer, I wish

I could tell you the exact model.

Biggest one we could buy
just to power everything.

Track 1: Oh, yeah.

we've got three, probably, I don't

know, 18 by 30 inch solar panels
that are now connected to it


Track 1: Oh yeah.

rods in there.

Track 1: Well, that's, I was gonna
ask you, you read my mind about the

ground rods, because that's one area
I find people like to skimp on, and

that affects the quality of your fence.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah, I
noticed that when we first, the guy that

put 'em in was pretty minimal on those.

And so I just went back in and just
put as many as I could out there in

the area that we've got and just said.

I'd rather have more than not have enough.

It's not that

Track 1: oh, yeah,

to buy those and put those

in, it's, it's worth it.

Every penny

Track 1: yeah, yeah.

And so I, I assume you have a
marine deep cycle battery on it.

I do, yes.

And it's got a year warranty and
it'll last about a year every time.


Track 1: Oh yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: you
know, I've, I've got it now to where

I know like, okay, it's typically it's
gonna die about the first November

before we get into the winter season.

And I go out there and I just
replace it, no questions asked,

Track 1: Oh yeah.

let's start fresh.

'cause that's the worst is
getting into winter and you've

gotta go replace a battery.

And you know, ours is put to where it's
basically in the middle of the pasture.

And depending on the weather condition,
you could be walking, I don't know, a

quarter mile plus carrying a battery.

That's not fun.


do that one time and you realize,
okay, we're not doing that ever again.

Track 1: Right?

of it, you know.

year one you learn, year two, you realize,
all right, let's get, let's get this fixed

now or replaced now so that we're not
having the same issue we had last year.

Track 1: Oh, yeah.


And actually that, that is what I'm
trying to figure out if my battery's, um.

Well, exactly.

I have a solar, um,
panel on this out here.

It's worked great, but other day not
putting out, well, it was completely dead.

I brought the battery to the house
and charged it, took it back up,

but still not, not doing right.

And, um, so I, I disconnected, I had
some electro netting up on some stuff,

so I took it off and I thought, well
it's, it's doing about a, a kilowatt,

so I'll let it be today and tomorrow
I'm gonna go up and trace it out.

Well, I'm gonna completely disconnect it
and, and just start from the beginning and

see if I can identify where the issue is.

Typically, I don't have an issue with it.

It might be the battery's
getting old on it.

Yeah, that kind of happens.

You kind of learn that.

There's been

times where I've thought the energizer
is bad or whatever, but it typically

always goes back to the, the battery.

And I don't know what Energizer you
had, maybe you mentioned or not, but

Speedrite, for us has been fantastic.

We've got the remote that we can turn
it off and on from wherever we're

at in the

Track 1: yeah.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: which
is, if you're getting into this, I

recommend having one of those that is
such a, that's such a lifesaver and a

game changer to be able to just go out
there and say, okay, I gotta work in this

area or wherever I can turn it off and on
from any spot you can check everything.

It's, it's, it's a night and
day advantage to have that

Track 1: I, I have a cyclops, uh,
energizer, but I have a Speedrite

remote, which means the remote
doesn't work for the energizer,

but I love the voltage reading.

If I'm losing amps anywhere,
it gives me a direction on it.

I really like that tool.

Um, it'd be really nice if I had that
remote control energizer with it, um,

so I could turn it off, but I have
to go back to the energizer, flip it

off, go do my stuff, turn it back on.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah,
I'll tell you a funny story about turning

it on and off was we first started and I
had my parents out there to help me just

do a few maintenance items around there.

Just simply mainly because
my dad was around cattle most

of his life, so he's familiar

with it, understands it.

Um, and then I was trying to do
some work on the fence, and this

is before we understood how much
we needed to have solar panel wise.

And we just had a little, little unit
we bought from like tractor supply

that we thought was gonna power this

Track 1: Oh yeah.

And it clearly did not.

It would last for maybe a day or two
and, and would shut off 'cause it just

wasn't enough, enough power getting to
the battery to keep the battery charged.

So I'm out there trying to do some work
on the energizer, getting it figured

out what's going on, what's causing it.

My dad's in another part of the pasture
at this time is not taking a phone call.


I'm trying to crawl back and
forth underneath the fence to

figure out what is causing issues.

At the same time, he is checking the
fence for electricity, so I'm turning

it off, crawling underneath it.

He sees that it's off, he's turning it on.

I'm crawling back underneath to do

some other stuff, and I am, I
am getting hit, you know, I'm

getting, I think it's 10,000 volts
of basically what we have just

right through my back.

I can't figure out
what's causing this now.

I think there's like some sort
of short going on in the fence

Track 1: oh yes.

that, that's causing me to get hit.

I'd get out, turn it, check
it, and like, okay, it's hot.

Turn it off.

Crawl back underneath to go try
to reassess with the battery and

the, the energizer situation.

He would check it again, realize
that it was not on, he'd turn

it back on, I'd crawl back

underneath it, get hit again.

Track 1: Oh, yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: And then


Track 1: feel good.

I, no, it does not feel good.

And then eventually I got with him
and I was like, what are, like, there

were some very choice words said
between each other that a father and

son should not say to each other.

Track 1: Imagine so.

Yeah, it's one of those You
have to apologize later.

I'm sorry for what I said in the moment.

Um, yeah, yeah, yeah.

So you got these steers there,
cattle, some cows that, or some

heifers I think you said there.

What did you breed them to for
your first year on those heifers?

So we took all of them, we AI to.

Primarily red Wagyu.



Track 1: Oh yeah.

we did some that was, um, a

cross between red and black Wagyu

Track 1: Oh yeah.

did you have any calving
problems with them?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: We have
not, uh, we had, I'll be honest with

you, some calving issues from not having
cattle completely comfortable with going

through the corral and all the process
of getting them AIed and when we tried

to round them up to get them into the
corral for getting them synced and all

this other stuff kind of overworked them.

And so we ended up with not as
many taking as we would've liked.

Track 1: Oh yeah.


nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Um,
but the ones that we've had calves

from have been very, very happy with.

Track 1: And, and that brings
up a a good point there.

When you're AIing cattle, you've
gotta have a way to get 'em

in and you need 'em to remain
relatively calm during the process.

Uh, and earlier you'd mentioned,
you all don't have too many, too

many pens in way of a corral.

So how did

have nothing.

Track 1: how'd you do that then?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So I'm,

I'm blessed to have really good neighbors
and those, that, that, that is a

huge, huge benefit of where we're at.

So I've got a neighbor
that's got a portable corral.

Track 1: Oh

neighbor that's got a chute and then

I've got another guy that does the ai.

And so

Track 1: Oh yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: just
the tough part is working with all

of them to get schedules to line up
so we can get everything perfectly

set up to be at the same time.

Track 1: Oh yeah.

Um, and then, you know, year

one, 'cause they weren't fully.

I don't know if train's the right
word, but they weren't used to me.

a lot more work to get them into the
temporary corral, get them ready to go

and do all that stuff Now because we've
gotten them trained to alfalfa cubes.

I can go out there into the pasture.

You can put the temporary corral
wherever you want and I'll have

them caught in 15 to 30 minutes.

They'll just call me right in.

Like, it's like it's nothing.

Track 1: Oh yes.


And are you continuing to AI each year
or do y'all end up purchasing a bull?

So year one we didn't, which was a

mistake on my part that was kind of
being penny wise and pound foolish.

Should have bought one just
for cleanup for having calves

we could take to the sale barn to market.

That was, that was, that was on me not
thinking fully through it this year.

We AIed and then found.

Another person close to us
that had bull he was willing to

lease that we used for cleanup.

The uh, cleanup bowl we got was just,
just a run of the mill Angus bull.

Um, he had two, a red and a
black, and I asked him what

sells better at the sale barn?

And he said, black.

And I said, we'll, take that

Track 1: Yes.


Well, uh, at a certain point, the, the
most important factor becomes getting

those cows in calf, getting them pregnant.

So you have something to market.

that is, that is 100% the most

important thing I think personally.

I mean, it's having something you
could sell is, is, is a huge factor.


Track 1: Oh, yeah.

you know, you've got it AI to the

genetics or the breed you wanted
and you can sell to specialized.

Other ranches or farms that do the
same thing you do, or if it's a calf

you can sell at market, at the sale
barn that is light years ahead of not

having a calf that's born out there.

Track 1: Right.


Now on AI in your cows, did, did you
sync 'em so that they were able just to

come over there and Ai 'em all timed,
or how did, how was that managed?

Yeah, we did Simply because

it's hard to keep neighbors from
not using their own equipment.

We, we decided to sync and AI
all at the same time and really

wanted a tight calving window.

Track 1: Oh, yeah.

When you're ai, and that's always.

Or, or timing typically sinking your
cows and then being able to ai them

works better for most beef people.

Um, now when we dairyed, we very rarely
sync anything outside, some heifers, but,

um, I'm thinking this year I'd like to
AI a few and, and my initial thoughts

are I'll go in and sync everything,
ai, everything, and then put a cleanup

bull on them, which will, I mean,
it'll be one of my South Poll bulls, so

I'll be happy with the, the breeding.

But, um, trying to ai 'em one time first.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah,
I think that's a really good way.

I mean, especially for young ranchers
and people getting started, you know,

depending on what your end game is,
obviously that that factors into it.

But if you are trying to get the
best genetics you can for the cost,

AI is a lot cheaper option than
going out and trying to buy the most

expensive registered bull you can find.

Track 1: I, I completely agree.

Now I have to say, I say that's my plan.

I actually have another plan that I'm
tossing around in my head as well, um,

because I'm debating whether or not
I should be raising any replacements.

And I like the, I like raising
my own replacements, but I think

profitability takes a hit when
I'm raising that heifer to a cow.

And maybe I can buy in animals
that will fit my system.

I'd like to think at this point I
know what I'm doing, which I don't.

Um, so I'm tossing around
both ideas right now.

Not sure which way I'm going
to go, because I love the idea.

I love breeding.

I love the, the genetic aspect of it, and
I don't like the idea not raising my own

replacements because I know those animals.

But when I start figuring
things, I think, you know, maybe

I'm not looking at this right.

So I've got plenty of time
think about it and debate it.

Um, but we'll get it figured out,

Yeah, I think that's a, that's

an important thing to look at.

I mean, I, I think I'm kind of with you
on the same line of thinking as I am.

I want to control the genetics
as much as possible too.

I want to know exactly the lineage or what
I'm putting into it as opposed to trusting

what I'm hearing from somebody else.

Um, so I, I fully get what you're, what
you're, what you're talking about there.

Track 1: Yeah.

Now let's, let's talk a little bit
about those first steers you got.

Have you finished those and marketed
them, or where are they on their journey?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So we
have, we finished them and sold them

last October, November sometime in there.

Track 1: Oh, okay.

and sold most of them.

We still have some beef
that we're working through.

Primarily it was just word of
mouth to friends and family saying,

Hey, we've got quarters or halves
available, who's interested?

And kind of just going from there.

Track 1: How'd that turn out?

Did it turn out like you thought it would?

I would say yes and no.

We have had really good feedback from
the beef that we have sold, that people

Track 1: Oh,

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: really
like it, really excited about it, but

we didn't sell.

Out of everything like
we thought we would.

Track 1: Oh yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: which
is, which is a tough, tough spot to be in.

You take X amount into the butcher and
then you've only sold y you've gotta

come up with a solution to what you're
gonna do with the rest of the beef.


Track 1: Oh yeah.

holding, I'm holding some beef

and in a deep freeze here.

My brother's holding some in a deep freeze
at his place and we're just kind of, kind

of, kind of selling that as we go now.

Track 1: Yeah.

And did you find that that, um, cross
finished pretty easily on grass for you?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: It did.

It's, it's a, it's a great cross.

It, they get fat and they're happy.

The marbling on there is really good.

I would say it's probably grating
out choice if, if I had to

pick, I'm not an expert on the
USDA finishing system, but just

Track 1: Oh yeah.


and comparing what we've

got, it's very tender.

Um, a great eating experience.

Track 1: Oh, very good.

Very good.

Did you, when you're, you're finishing
those steers on grass, did you do

anything special to get 'em finished?

Did you, um, was there any gotchas
when you're going through that process?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: No,
we haven't done anything different.

We've, we've looked at, you know, maybe
the last couple of weeks or a month going

forward, supplementing with more alfalfa

or maybe even beet pellets.

And I know there's some questionable
whether or not that considers a

hundred percent grass fed or not, but
looked at doing something different.

But the end product has
worked out great for us

Track 1: Oh yeah.

we've, we've finished them out longer.

I think a lot of times people
finish cattle out to just when

they hit that weight and they
don't give a ton of time to mature

Track 1: Oh, yes.

you know, so we've, we've.

We gave our cattle three full years out
there before we took 'em in, and I think

that has really helped with, with the
flavor and the overall eating experience.

Track 1: Oh, very good.


And you know, just that giving them time.

We, we pencil everything out.

I was talking about what I'm going to do,

uh, if I ai my calves or, or if
I'm going to possibly not keep

replacements, what's that going to do?

We pencil this out, but in reality,
um, the best laid plans don't

always work like we think they will.

And timing on finishing a calf, a
calf's going finish when it finishes.

And, um, it's really tough to say they're
gonna finish on May 21st, or whenever

you say, 'cause you gotta work with
that animal and what your forages are.

And there's so many factors in that.

Oh yeah, there are a lot.

And especially for the
small producer, it's.

Hey, we've got a time slot that's


or we can do another one in three months.

When can you get the cow in?

You know, when can you
get those steers in?

And you've gotta be able
to work around that.

It, it's, it's very tough to get 'em to
finish exactly the way you want as a,

Track 1: Oh yeah.

in this, this day and age.

And I don't, there's no issue
with, with the butchers.

I mean, they're trying to just
book it up and they good on them to

have it set up to where they can be
fully booked and only have time, you

know, here or here, and you've gotta

Track 1: Oh, right.


Um, but it does make it a little

harder on the, the finishing product
you're trying to to customers.

Track 1: Oh yeah.

So very true.


So you finished that set.

This coming year, did you go back
and get some more steers that were

yearlings to keep the process going?

So you have some each year,
or have you got calves that'll

finish out this year for you?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So calves
will not finish out until the year after?

Track 1: That's what I, I was
thinking, but then I thought, you

know, maybe math isn't my subject,
so I thought I'd better check.

Good question.

So we are going to, we will
supplement with some, we'll buy

some steers to finish out this year.


and we've got, we luckily found enough
other people that kind of produce beef

the same way that we do, that we can,
we can go to them and say, Hey, this

is, this is how many steers we need.

What do you have?

Can you help us?

And if they've got extra inventory,
then we can buy from them and feel

Track 1: Oh, very good.

that product because it's raised

the same way that, that we do it.

Track 1: Right, right.


Uh, one more question before we
get to the overgrazing section.

Uh, when you went in on that land
and getting it set up, did you just

start working with the forage that
was there or did you go in and add

anything, do anything special there?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: We
haven't done anything special yet.

Um, I did look at working with
NRCS on taking a piece that before

we had, the previous owner had
used for, um, row crop ground

Track 1: Oh, yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: getting
that back into grass production, but

it just didn't quite work out with what
we wanted because they had to, or their

requirement was the cattle had to be
off the ground for that piece of land

for a certain piece of time that has
our, our water for the winter on it.

So that didn't quite work out.

Track 1: I was right.


nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: And so,
um, really liked that idea and wanted,

wanted, really wanted to pursue that
because of the cost sharing and you know,

how they kind of help with all the, all of

that side of the operation.

But I didn't want to have to go
walk a quarter mile or more every

morning and chop ice for cattle
to drink out of, out of ponds.

Track 1: Oh yeah.


All those other considerations
gotta be considered.



Well, Nate, it's time for us to
transition to the overgrazing section

where we take a little bit deeper dive
into something about your operation.

And today we're gonna talk more
about focusing on the end product.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

I think that was kind of where,
starting out I got stuck or I don't

know if stucks the right word, but
too focused on would be correct, I

guess was I, was I focused on when I
wanted to be able to finish the cattle?


As opposed to when the cattle should be
calving and when they should be growing

and had to kind of flip that after one
calving cycle and realized this isn't,

this isn't the right way to be doing it.

We need to be more in sync with nature.

Um, unfortunately it took, you know,
took a pretty big hit there because we

had to change the whole entire breeding
season around to accommodate that.

But know that going forward, that is
putting us in a position to utilize

forage better than what we've had before.

Track 1: You know, with that breeding
season, I think I've heard, and I'd

like to attribute this to somebody,
and I can't think who says this, but

I know I've heard it, that, you know,
the, the Kevin season is the place that,

that farmers have the most area to.

To make money that they're Kev outta
sync with nature and or at a time

that's not working for their forages.

And they could really save money
or, or better produce their animals

if they were more in sync or, or
just working with their forages.

You know, for instance, my dad
and I, and I bring us up a lot

because we're kind of a contrast.

Dad's got a fall ke herd.

I ke everything in the spring.

Last couple of years we've
been talking about this.

And I use so much less hay
than he does per animal.

Uh, his cows are milking into peak
lactation when we're starting into

winter and we usually, we we're
able to stockpile some grass.

So, so we don't feed a great amount of
hay, but we still feed a fair amount.

And we've talked about changing that
Kevin's window for his herd, but.

The logistics of doing that.

Do you go six months without a calf?

Do you wholesale sell the herd
and buy all new animals in?

And if you've looked at prices
lately, that's pretty scary.

Do we go six months?

I don't know.

We're talking about it, but as of
now, we're still calving, the way

we were, because that's a big change
that we haven't quite figured out

the direction we're going with that.

Yeah, that's a tough one.

I understand exactly what you're saying.

I don't know if there's a
way to kind of piecemeal it.

Maybe there is where you kind
of slowly change the breeding

season to get to where you want.


Track 1: And we've talked about that.

bad months.

I don't know exactly, but

Track 1: Yeah.

And, and that's what we would end
up if we go, if we try and push 'em

to a shorter, uh, calving interval,

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Mm-hmm.

Track 1: you're gonna
go through some months.

You don't want calve in that way.

If you push him to a longer calving
interval, eventually you're gonna

lose half a calf in there because
you're pushing him longer each time.

Um, but you're gonna
go through some months.

You don't want ke in then either.

So, um, standing pat right now, uh, as we
think about it and consider our options.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: So, you
know, our main focus has always been on

the, the end product, which, which I think
we've figured it out, has, has worked.

We, we ended up kind of just basically
doing a taste test to figure out this

is exactly where we wanted to go.

We ordered a bunch of grass fed, grain
fed steaks from different operations,

different breeds, and kind of just
had a, a blind taste test with with

family over the holidays one year
and decided, okay, this makes sense.

This is how.

We're gonna pursue this, this is what
we're going to do and this is how we're

gonna gonna build, build a herd towards

Track 1: Is that where you identified,
Hey, Wagyu is the way we want to go?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Mm-Hmm.

That, that's exactly right.

We did a bunch of different ones.

Like I said, um, I mean, honestly,
we, we tried Highland, we tried

Piedmontese, we tried just straight
grass fed from the grocery store.

We did grass fed Wagyu
from Firstlight Farms.

We did grain fed Wagyu from heart brand
and some other ones from local and just

grilled a bunch of steaks, cooked them
all the same, and said, Hey, rate these.

And then did, did an evaluation and
said, okay, this, this is kind of

the top, top of the line that people
like the most, and that's where

the operation should go towards.

Track 1: Oh, very good.

And that's a excellent way to begin
with the end in mind and, um, figure

out what you like and goes with that.

We, we talked about, we have not
produced any grass finished, um,

beef and we've talked about doing it.

Um, my wife and I have
talked about it a lot.

However, when I say that.

To be honest, we haven't
really ate grass fed beef.

We, we have traditionally finished
beef with a little bit of grain,

and that's always what's in our deep
freeze and we haven't gone out to buy any.

So one of our first things, we're gonna
finish a steer so we can have it before

we even try and, and marketing it just
to make sure we're on the right path.

And we like it.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: I
think that's a good way to do it.

I mean, it really

You finish it out and at least
with us, if you dry age it 12

to 14 days, it works great.

Track 1: oh yeah.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: And
the product's been good, and if you

wanna sample some mistakes, let me know
and I'll just send some your direction.

Track 1: Oh, okay.

I'll keep that in mind because yeah,
I did pastured Poultry probably, , I.

It is probably 10 years, 15 years ago.

I got some Cornish crosses.

I built a, a pen, um, like Joel's
saladin, the, the meat chicken pen.

And I purchased 50 of them
and I raised them in it.

And the first thing we did, I thought,
we're going to put up these for ourselves.

If we like them, then we'll move the
next step and see if I can market some.

I think the price point's really tough
on those, especially where I live,

but I thought, I'm gonna try some.

So we did that first set, butchered
them, got 'em processed, and my

wife's like, I don't like 'em.

It doesn't, it, it's not flavorful.

I said, it's chicken, it's flavored
from whatever you put on it.

Um, she was not a fan.

So that was the last
pastured poultry that I did.


I, I have talked to her about maybe
getting some Freedom Rangers and trying

a little bit slower growing ones.

Uh, and doing it, I haven't yet
because I do believe the price

point in my area is just markets it
out of my, out of the people here.

So I don't know.

But yeah.

If you don't love it, it's hard
for you to market to other people.

Yeah, absolutely.

You don't have the
conviction behind what you're

Track 1: you don't.


you've gotta be fully into it.

Like you gotta try it and go,
I, I know this product is good.

I know it's, it's good for the consumer
and you've gotta, you gotta fully be

Track 1: Right.




Completely agree.

Nate, let's move on to
the famous four questions.

Same four questions we
ask of all of our guests.

Our first question, Nate, what is your
favorite grazing grass resource or book?


Good question.

Probably give you a couple, I'm
reading Joel Ton's salad bar

beef right now, so that's top of

Track 1: Oh yes.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Um,
but I also think another really good

one is Comeback Farms by Greg Judy,

Track 1: Oh yeah.



Excellent choices there.


Our second question, what is
your favorite tool for the farm?

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: can
I give you two answers on that one?

Track 1: Yes.

You can gimme as many as you want,

for actual tool itself is

fence pliers and those.

For what we have, build a fixed fence.

They also worked as a hammer.

They're pretty universal
for a lot of issues.

You're gonna, you're gonna run across
in terms of day-to-day operational


Track 1: yes.


The other one for us and for myself,

is a good bag of alfalfa cubes.

And once you get them cattle trained
to that you can get them to do a

lot of things that you could do
without having to, you don't have

to have dogs, horses, machinery.

You can just get them to follow you
just about anywhere you want to go.

Track 1: Yeah, I, I love cows be following
me as opposed to me driving them or

trying to get them to do anything else.

If they'll just follow me, it's all good.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: Yeah.

I, I love it about a 90% of the
time except for that 10% when I'm

working in a certain area and they
just are just right up on you.

'cause they think you
got some treats for him.

Track 1: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hazard of it.


Our third question, Nate,
what would you tell someone?

Just getting started.

For somebody just getting

started, you definitely want to
do your due diligence and do your

research before you jump into it.

I would say before picking out a piece of
ground, it, look at it, do an assessment

of the water, the fence, the forage,
meet your neighbors, talk to them.

Come up with exactly what your end
product is, whether that's you wanna

finish cattle and sell to your friends
and family, whether it's you wanna raise

cattle that are just, you're selling the
calves to the um, sale barn, whatever it

is, figure out your end game, whether you
want to be the marketing specialist that.

Focuses on the end product, or if you
want to be more of just the land steward,

figure out your niche and go from there.

Um, but I would also say no time
like the president to get started.

You know, do your research, have a general
idea, and then jump in and get started.

There's a lot of things you can
read about and have an idea about,

but until you experience it, you're
not gonna know how to deal with it.

There's gonna be a lot of ups
and downs in this industry.

You're gonna have calves born,
you're gonna have cows die.

You're gonna go through a lot of highs and
lows, but don't feel like you have to have

all the answers before you get started.

I mean, there's a lot of
really good books out there.

There's a lot of great content on

Track 1: there is.

I mean, your, your phone is a

information highway to anything to
help you get started in this industry.

Track 1: Very good.

And Nate, where can others
find out more about you?

So we have an Instagram, it's

just Stucky Family Ranch.

And if anybody wants to get ahold
of me, I love to talk cattle.

Track 1: Wonderful.

Nate, we appreciate you coming on today.

nate-stucky_1_01-17-2024_173803: cal.

I have enjoyed it.

You take care.

Track 1: You too.