WBEZ | Quarter Circle Seven Ranch http://www.wbez.org/tags/quarter-circle-seven-ranch Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What does a drought do to a ranch full of grass-fed cattle? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/what-does-drought-do-ranch-full-grass-fed-cattle-101629 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/q7%20ranch.jpg" style="height: 802px; width: 620px; " title="(WBEZ/Brian Babylon)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>We&#39;ve all heard about how the drought in the Midwest has impacted the lives of farmers and their crops.&nbsp;To get a sense of the drought and its affect on the grass-fed beef industry, Brian Babylon visited Quarter Circle Seven Ranch&nbsp;in Marengo, Ill., about 60 miles northwest of Chicago.</p><p>On the way to the farm, Dave Rand of Q7 stops at a nearby corn field. He bends over and picks up a clod of dirt, and as he lets it go, it evaporates into the wind. This isn&#39;t the rich, moist soil agriculture relies on.</p><p>Luckily for Q7, a stream meanders through the land, which means cattle have fresh water to drink and green grass to eat despite the worst drought in 100 years.</p><p>Listen to find out more about Q7 and what the drought means for the grass-fed beef and commodity beef industries on Friday&#39;s <em>Afternoon Shift</em>.</p><p>---</p></div><p>Dave doesn&#39;t call himself a cowboy. &quot;I&#39;m a fella who works with the cattle business,&quot; he says. &quot;I work with a few cowboys, and if I were to call myself that I&#39;d look like a real fool...A cowboy is really something that was created in the west and raising cattle is a little bit different. This is probably the closest you&#39;ll get to a western cattle ranch you&#39;ll see around here.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We decided awhile back that this would be a local business,&quot; says Rand. &quot;We figure there&#39;s 7 million people in the Chicago area...and if we can&#39;t create a demand out of that, we&#39;re doing something wrong.&quot;</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a positive feedback loop when you graze cattle on land like this...It&#39;s putting natural resources to it&#39;s best potential....we raise them to a target harvesting weight, which for us is quite a bit smaller than your commodity beef.&quot; Rand says major cattle ranches try to get their steers to&nbsp;1500 to1600 pounds, while a Q7 cow is half that.</p><p>&quot;We have had probably more vegetarian converts come to us than almost any other population,&quot; says Rand. &quot;There&#39;s a lot of reasons not to eat meat...and I often say eat less meat...but you can at least have some sense of responsibility about what you&#39;re doing.&quot;</p><p>&quot;This is a bad drought but it doesn&#39;t appear it&#39;s going to last for 10 years in a row...it&#39;s seasonal,&quot; says Rand, from his observation and study. &quot;With climate change you&#39;re going to get more dramatic changes every year, and this is clearly evidence of &nbsp;that. And that&#39;s undeniable.&quot;</p><p>But the drought, whether seasonal or due to climate change or what have you, does affect the corn population:</p><p>&quot;Corn is in everything....but that being said, feeding corn at it&#39;s most expensive and most volatile time to cattle, it doesn&#39;t make sense, but that&#39;s the system we created, so that&#39;s what people are going to keep doing, from McDonald&#39;s to Gibsons,&quot; says Rand.</p></p> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 12:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/what-does-drought-do-ranch-full-grass-fed-cattle-101629