What I Learned About Renting Land From Missouri Based Grass Farmer Greg Judy
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Greg Judy, renowned grass farmer and successful leasor of land, was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Carolina Meat Conference this year in Charlotte that just took place this October. Greg and his wife built up their operation on leased land and today they run cows, cow/calf pairs, bred heifers, stockers, hair sheep, goats, and pigs on 1600 acres of leased land. I haven’t bought his book No Risk Ranching yet but I’m planning on it! The following notes are geared towards leasing land for livestock.
- When you meet your potential landowner, don’t give a limp fish handshake, wear clean cloths and have a clean vehicle. Don’t overstay your first visit.
- Questions to ask landowner: What is their primary goal with the land? What concerns do they have? Do they need income from the land? How long have they owned it?
- Only work off of a written lease agreement. Get a lease for as long as possible, preferably 10 years. If you are going to build a fence, you need a minimum of 7 or 8 year lease.
- Once the lease starts, send pictures and updates weekly.
- Build attractive frontage fence, make improvements often. Don’t bring in your livestock until the fence is completely ready!
- Landowners may not want to spend any money. If money has to be spent for something such as a water supply for livestock, propose paying for it yourself and deducting the expense from the lease.
- Look for a source of electricity on the land. If there is power crossing the property its worth getting access to the power to charge your fences. Solar charges work ok, but they often get stolen.
- Use temporary fencing before constructing permanent fencing to learn how the animals graze most efficiently. High tensile permanent paddocks can come later.
- Keep the property attractive. Make sure the gates on the property open and close easily. Remove junk. Plant flowers along road frontage. Keep road frontage fences attractive and well built.
- Educate your landowner on how your grazing techniques are also good for wildlife. Pulsed grazing will bring the land back to life. Lush plants attract wildlife.
- If your landowners like to hunt, graze the deer hunting areas 30 – 60 days before hunting season, then remove livestock from the prime hunting areas. Offer to help build deer blinds. Any service you can offer will help build trust.
- In summary, manage your leased land like you own it. Keep your landowner well informed and excited about what you are doing. Keep the property looking sharp. Build a lasting relationship.