Five years ago, Robert Greenlaw left a desk job for the farm life when he inherited a portion of his grandfather’s farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Today he raises poultry and cattle on his 150-acre farm, Earth’s Echo Farm, about an hour outside of Washington D.C.
“I didn’t want to see it get developed,” says Greenlaw. “So, we decided to pack up and move back home to the family farm and make a go of it.”
After renovating the house and adding some out buildings, Greenlaw got started with chickens. “We did meat chickens first, then took on laying hens and eventually got into running cattle.”
Greenlaw rotationally grazes Hereford beef cattle, a breed his grandfather raised. He typically runs 20 to 30 cattle and finishes 10 to 15 per year. In May, he added a Shade Haven mobile shade system to his grazing strategy.
“With the amount of heat we have in the summer and only a few trees, we couldn’t be doing what we do without the Shade Haven,” says Greenlaw. “We use the Shade Haven six to eight months of the year. We move it every day.”
The grazing plan
Greenlaw makes the daily moves with a tractor or truck, moving the Shade Haven and a portable water tank within paddocks shaped with temporary polywire fencing. The pastures offer a variety of quality forage that ensures the cattle are consuming plenty of protein. “They are bulking up nicely… we are really pleased with how they are turning out. And the Shade Haven plays a big part in that,” says Greenlaw.
He makes mid-day moves when the sugars are highest, giving the cattle new grass along with the Shade Haven. “Immediately they are out and grazing again – it gets another afternoon meal into them.”
When he purchased the SH1200 Shade Haven, Greenlaw also purchased the Fly Control Bracket and Oiler/Scratcher. “That has really helped with fly control. It doesn’t eliminated flies entirely – I don’t think anything would – but it certainly has made them far more comfortable.”
There are many reasons for Greenlaw and his cows to love the Shade Haven. It prevents heat stress, improves dry matter intake, controls pests, and there’s one more benefit. “On the rare instance the cows get out, I can bring them back with the Shade Haven,” says Greenlaw. “We don’t do grain – so I can’t shake a bucket of grain at them. We just get to where they can see the Shade Haven and drive slowly back to where they are supposed to be.”
Greenlaw farms with his wife, Gini, and two children, ages 7 and 4, with one more on the way. The family markets the farm’s chicken, eggs and grass-fed beef at two nearby farmers markets.
“We are one of the few farms that is still actively farming. We are still out here trying to make a go of it,” says Greenlaw. “Everything is grass-fed, grass-finished. And the Shade Haven makes this all possible.”
For more information on Earth’s Echo Farm, check out its Facebook page or visit www.earthsechofarm.com