Grazing Plan

1. Introduction

Willow Creek Ranch is dedicated to the ethical and sustainable production of 100% grassfed and grass-finished beef. While we have presently chosen not to pursue certification by the American Grassfed Association (AGA) currently, we follow their guidelines and standards and in some cases exceed their requirements.[1] Our focus is on environmentally responsible practices, animal welfare, and the production of high-quality nutrient-dense beef.

2. Livestock & Breeding Program

– Breed Selection: We specialize in grass-adapted and heat-tolerant breeds, specifically South Poll and Red Devon. These breeds are known for their ability to thrive in Louisiana’s warm climate and on forage-based diets. 

  • South Poll: Known for their heat tolerance, gentle temperament, and efficient grazing. They are well-suited to our rotational grazing system, showing excellent forage conversion and maintaining condition in hot, humid environments.
  • Red Devon: Renowned for their hardiness and adaptability, Red Devons perform well on native grasses. They provide high-quality beef and are resilient in varying weather conditions.

We DNA-test our entire herd utilizing Neogen Igenity Beef. We test the entire herd, and any cattle not tested or not meeting above average DNA-proclivity for tenderness levels (greater than or equal to 5/10) are not sold to consumers under our private label.

The Igenity Beef test provides genetic testing of multiple genes known to correspond with cattle characteristics. Specific to meat tenderness, the test analyzes 3 genes specifically related to beef tenderness and provides a numeric value from 1 to 10. The higher the number, the more genetically favorable that animal is to produce tender meat.


  • Igenity Beef includes 17 maternal, performance, and carcass traits plus parentage
  • utilizes the Illumina® dual-index 150 base pair-end read chemistries for high-quality base calling

Breeding Practices: We emphasize natural breeding with minimal intervention. Maintain records of birth assistance, with a goal of reducing such incidences through selective breeding. Our selective breeding prioritizes longevity, fertility, ability to thrive in South Louisiana’s hot and humid climate on natural forages, calving ease, docility, and carcass traits as measured by DNA analysis and observation. None of our cattle marketed as grassfed are harvested at less than 14 months of age.

3. Animal Handling and Welfare

– Handling Techniques: We utilize gentle, low-stress stockmanship techniques for all animal interactions. Our cattle have daily low-stress interactions with humans and don’t require any force with our movement techniques. They are trained to single strand poly hot wire and are easily moved throughout the pastures. We have intentionally chosen breeds that are docile and easy to interact with.

– Natural Behaviors: We ensure cattle have the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviors in a stress-free environment. They are not confined to feedlots and spend their time on pasture. With the exception of roundups, sorting, weaning, transportation, or nighttime confinement they have maximal access to pasture and grazing.

We treat our animals humanely and with respect.

4. Land Health and Pasture Management

– Stocking Rates and Pasture Rotation: We utilize adaptive management-intensive grazing to adjust stocking rates to sustain pasture health and prevent overgrazing. These practices have been shown to increase soil and livestock health.[2, 3]

– Forage Diversity: Utilize native forages, improved grasses, and legumes, conducting regular soil tests to guide pasture management.

– Multi-species grazing: We rotate swine and poultry throughout the pastures in a similar rotation to the cattle. This has been shown to improve soil and forage diversity, lower parasite burden,[4] and improve environmental and livestock health.[2] We have a structured rotation plan that allows adjustments for forage quality and quantity, livestock body condition, and weather. 

– We prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides on our pastures. We prefer to adjust stocking density and utilize multi-species grazing to control undesirable species.

– We allow existing wildlife to co-exist with our livestock on our pastures. We utilize livestock guardian dogs and farm dogs to protect vulnerable livestock and poultry, which allows us to avoid the use of traps or other more dangerous deterrent methods.

5. Forage Protocol

– Forage-Based Diet: We nsure a diet of high-quality forage, adjusting grazing patterns as needed. Our pastures consist of native perennials, bahaia grass, as well as improved grass varieties such as Bermuda grass. We plant seasonal appropriate cover crops including but not limited to chickory, clovers, millet, brassicas, and rye grass.

– Winter forage consists of stockpiled forage, hay, silage, rye grass, and cover crops.

– Supplemental Feeding: Use only AGA-approved supplements, including hay, haylage, and other forage products during lower forage availability. We follow AGA requirements regarding the consumption of grain or cereal crops.[1]

– We provide free-choice minerals to the cattle as well as constant access to fresh water. 

– We do not use synthetic pesticides or herbicides on our pasture.

6. Health and Treatment Protocols

– Routine Health Checks and Emergency Care: We conduct regular health assessments and treat any sick or injured animals promptly. We maintain detailed records of treatments.

– Antibiotic Treatment Policy: Any animals treated with antibiotics are recorded and permanently separated from the rest of the herd. These animals are not marketed as antibiotic-free and are not sold to consumers under our grassfed label.

– We do not administer synthetic or added hormones to our animals.

7. Animal Identification, Sourcing, and Trace-Back

– Cattle are only marketed as 100% Grassfed and Grass-finished if they have been raised to these standards from birth to harvest

– Ear-Tagging and Record-Keeping: All animals are ear-tagged and recorded at birth for full traceability.

– Appropriate records are kept to ensure that any livestock not meeting these standards are not marketed or sold as Grassfed under our private label.

– Sourcing Policy for Calves and Cattle: Calves are either born on our farm or sourced from reputable cow-calf operations specializing in grassfed cattle in the United States. Purchased calves and cattle meet the same criteria as our own, including no grain feeding, no antibiotics or added/synthetic hormones, and adherence to the AGA standards at minimum. We obtain written proof from sellers to document this when purchasing cattle.

– We minimize the number of ownership changes on the cattle we market as grassfed beef. If the beef cattle are not calved on our own farm, we ensure that ownership and grazing practices are documented and traced back to birth, and we receive written documentation of this. In general, we only purchase cattle for processing that have only had one previous owner. Furthermore, all cattle marketed and sold as 100% grassfed and grass-finished beef are finished on our finishing pastures in Baton Rouge, LA.

8. Compliance and Monitoring

– Regular Audits and Reviews: Conduct self-audits to ensure adherence to AGA standards and continuous improvement of our practices.
– Community Engagement and Knowledge Sharing: Actively engage with the local agricultural community, sharing best practices in sustainable grazing and cattle management.


1.              American Grassfed Association Grassfed Ruminant Standards. 2020, American Grassfed Association.

2.              Williams, C.A., et al., Effects of 27 mo of rotational vs. continuous grazing on horse and pasture condition. Transl Anim Sci, 2020. 4(3): p. txaa084.

3.              Chen, M. and J. Shi, Effect of rotational grazing on plant and animal production. Math Biosci Eng, 2018. 15(2): p. 393-406.

4.              Prasad, M.S.R., et al., Influence of intensive rearing, continuous and rotational grazing systems of management on parasitic load of lambs. Vet World, 2019. 12(8): p. 1188-1194.