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In Ranching Its Earth Day Every Day

22 April 2015

Resourcefulness is paramount in ranching. Belts, sweepers, tyres and machinery can all get re-purposed to limit farming's impact on the planet as well as the wallet.

In this latest instalment from the National Beef Ambassadors, Wyoming rancher's daughter Rachel Purdy examines how her operation recycles materials. 

Rachel Purdy, University Wyoming, is one of five students selected for the 2015 National Beef Ambassador team

She says its hard to find a producer not working to improve the sustainability of their operation.

The message she wants to convey in her latest blog is that environmentalism is not new in ranching, its a long standing principle of how cattlemen work. 

"We aren’t only concerned about our operation being able to produce for the next decade, but for several centuries to come," she explains. 

As Rachel's job as a young beef ambassador, she is required to consider the negative views of farming, and this includes the sustainability issues.

She writes that measures such as planting trees, providing wildlife habitat, and rotating the herd to prevent overgrazing are steps agriculturalists take to reduce their impact on the planet.

Motorway guardrails and cables make an effective corral at the Purdy ranch

These measures might make sense, but did you know agriculturalists are often avid recyclers?

Here are some ways my family reuses and repurposes materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Billboards: Rather Like Tarpaulin

Billboards are changed fairly frequently. After their life as an advertisement is over, they would typically be sent to a landfill.

The material that billboards are made out of is very similar to a tarp.

We use old billboard advertisements for several purposes. When we stack hay bales, we put a tarp (usually an old billboard) over it to keep the hay from being damaged by precipitation. If a stock tank is leaky, we line the bottom with an old billboard to save water and prevent the leak.

Billboards can be used as a tarp to protect hay bales from precipitation
Leaky water tanks can even be salvaged with the billboards! 

Rubber Tyres

Ever wonder what happens when you need to replace a tyre on your car?

One way rubber tires are given a second life is by compressing them into “tyre bales.” The main way we utilize these tyres bales is by arranging them into windbreaks for our animals. Wyoming winds can be very harsh, so the tyre bales help the cattle have shelter from the harsh winter storms that frequent our area.

Tyres can be arranged to provide a way to store grain 

Mining Tyres

Mining is big in Wyoming, and the tires used by mining equipment are not your average tires! These tires range in size from 6 to 13 feet in diameter! By cutting one tire in half, two water tanks can be made.

Tires can be woven into mats that help prevent cattle from slipping when they are handled.


We purchase used guardrail that can no longer be used for the highway system. The main use for this is to build very sturdy corrals that will not need to be replaced for an extended period of time.

By no means are these the only recycled materials being used on our farm (or in all of agriculture!).

Conveyor belting, sweeper brushes, barrels, pallets, and various containers are also materials that are often reused or repurposed in agriculture.

The materials also vary from one location to another (just like feed does!). I would encourage you to speak to a local farmer or rancher to see how they reduce, reuse, or recycle on their operation, I bet their resourcefulness will surprise you!

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