Our mission is to bring alive and encourage a meaningful farm experience that includes our family and grandchildren, that we can share with friends and neighbors, and that contributes to the greater community.”
Daniel and Linda Marquardt
Daniel & Linda Marquardt
About the Farm
Daniel and Linda run Hillside Pastures, a small grass-based farm in the Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin, started in 2009. The primary focus of the farm is the production of high-quality Red Devon seedstock---bulls and heifers that are sold to other farmers who are trying to meet the increasing demand for grassfed beef.
Developing purebred cattle for this high-end market requires continual improvement in the genetic quality of the cows and bulls that are the worker bees of the farm. And since the herd has been closed (no outside cows added to the herd since 2015), the introduction of new genetics comes primarily through artificial insemination, using the best Red Devon bulls we can find.
Cattle Breeding & Selection
Daniel and Linda's search for beef cattle that will finish on grass led
them to Red Devon cattle, an ancient blood line that was first brought by
the English Pilgrims to the United States in 1623. The Red Devon herd at
Hillside Pastures was started in 2009 with the purchase of seven heifers
with pedigrees that go back to the American Devon herd book that was
started in Massachusetts in 1855. Using a strategic artificial breeding
program and careful selection of replacement heifers and bulls, they are
committed to constantly improving the quality of our Devon to supply the
herd of registered seed stock for producers of grass finished beef.
Soil, Forage, & Grass Grazing
They conscientiously and consistently improve the quality of the soil on
the farm and the forages consumed by their cattle. The goal is to
develop highly fertile soil with balanced minerals, soil that is rich in
organic matter and biologically active – and to achieve this without the
use of pesticides and chemical or petroleum-based fertilizers.
Forages at Hillside Pastures are complex mixes of grasses (orchard grass,
tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, timothy, etc.) and legumes such as alfalfa
and several clovers.
Forage Management & Seasonal Feeding
Grass farming in Wisconsin presents some challenges. Half of the year
the farm produces massive quantities of forages and the other half of
the year the grass is dormant. Daniel and Linda have adjusted the size
of their herd to insure that all of the forages produced on their farm
during the growing season are grazed by the cattle. To accomplish this
harvest, they have divided the farm into paddocks, each defined by a
permanent electric fence. When cattle are moved into a paddock, they
are restricted to a relatively small portion of the paddock by the placement of a temporary electric fence which is moved often – typically once per day. This controlled movement of cattle through the paddock – called rotational grazing – is the primary management tool used to maximize the health of the soil, the diversity of forage crop, the production of milk in cows that are nursing calves, and, of course, the growth of the nursing calves.
After grazing all the available forage on the farm in the winter, the cows are
fed stored forage in the form of dry hay, which they purchase from their
neighbors who produce high quality hay and sell at commodity prices. This
purchased hay is typically fed out in the pasture by rolling out large round
bales on the ground. Spring on a Wisconsin cattle farm can be characterized
by extended periods with freeze/thaw cycles, sleet and lots of mud. Since
feeding cattle out in these wet fields with heavy equipment can do great
damage to the paddocks, they have invested in a few feeding facilities that
allow us to keep the cattle, the equipment, and the farmer out of the mud.
Visit Hillside Pastures for more information.