How traditional breeds could save ranching

A team of scientists and ranchers are studying Criollo cattle with a mission to find solutions for agricultural producers threatened by climate change.

(Stuart Ruckman and James A. Martin | The Times-Independent) A Criollo cow at Dugout Ranch in Indian Creek.

Ranching has a problem. Specifically, it’s about cattle ranching on the Colorado Plateau: The region was identified by the Guardian in 2022 as a climate change hotspot, which means that temperatures there are rising even faster than in the entire United States. The heat brings with it increased drought, plant death and accelerated erosion.

“We’re having a shorter cool season than we used to have,” said Matthew Redd, who runs Dugout Ranch at Indian Creek. He said that the area now has three extra months of warm weather each year, which has also changed plant species.

As a ranch manager, Redd makes a living tending to the herds of cattle that graze in Indian Creek and the adjacent canyons. He’s also in the midst of an experiment with the ranch’s Canyonlands Research Center to ensure he can continue to farm the land for years to come.

“We’re trying to find solutions for agricultural producers to adapt to climate change and keep the natural resource they depend on healthy,” Redd said, “so that we can continue to produce food and protect the integrity of this natural resource.” .”

That’s where Criollo cattle come in: a breed that’s smaller and hardier than their more traditional Angus brethren, and potentially better suited to hotter, drier landscapes. They are considered a “heritage breed,” meaning they predated industrial agriculture and may prove more resilient to the changing environment of the Colorado Plateau.

To read the whole story out of The Times Independent.


This article is published by the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of Utah news organizations whose goal is to educate readers across the state.

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

Justin Scaccy

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