Recording cultivation data on a beautiful day.
Shellfish Farming Practices
Clean water has been called the lifeblood of the shellfish industry. Perhaps less well known is the critical role that shellfish play in keeping clean the very waters in which they live. Shellfish perform functions in the coastal ecosystem similar to the role that kidneys play helping to filter and regulate the flow of blood in the human body. In the ecosystem, mature oysters can filter as much as 55 gallons of water a day. Healthy populations of shellfish can filter a substantial fraction of an estuary's water on a daily basis, and in the process help regulate vital flows of nutrients and energy in the overall coastal system.
Cattle Ranching Practices
The Lunny family considers themselves grass farmers. The livestock and mowing are the main tools that are used to manage the ranch grasslands. Priority is always on the needs of the pasture and then how can the cows meet these needs, not the reverse. With this focus, always making decisions with the betterment and protection of the pastures, they have been able to protect and improve the native grasslands on their ranch. These properly cared for pastures translate into reduced soil erosion, more effective treatment of nutrients and pathogens and the protection of the native grassland species and endangered plant species.
For many years, both natural breeding and artificial insemination has been used. Careful selection of bulls has allowed the herd to improve many heritable traits including carcass quality, milk production, birth weights and weaning weights to name a few. Cross breeding has also become an important component of the herd management. The herd today consists mostly of Hereford-Angus crossbred cows. Selection of replacement heifers is also critical in improving herd performance. Several factors are considered for this choice including the heifer's genetic heritage, the heifer's individual performance (birth weight, weaning weight, average daily gain), how she's "put together" (physical appearance), her disposition, and her actual carcass quality indicators. It is possible to measure for carcass quality by the use of ultrasound. Ultrasound provides "inside" information that is invaluable to the grass finisher.
Gentle handling has always been the rule on the Lunny Ranch. The cows are moved from pasture to pasture simply by opening a gate and calling the cows. They do the rest. When working the livestock in the corrals and in the working chute, no "hot shots" (cattle prods) are allowed. There hasn't been a hot shot on the ranch for over 30 years. Calm, safe cattle are a requirement; if there is a goofy one, she goes.