[SCIENCE] Arizona rancher on Mexico border breeding sustainable cattle

Fish works to bring sustainable cattle raising from the fringes to the mainstream, conserving water and maintaining pasture health to make the land more productive. /Photo by Michelle Minahen/Cronkite News

By Shayla Hyde | Cronkite News

he road turns from a dusty brown to a deep, red clay along the road to Buena Vista Ranch, where cattle rancher Dean Fish raises commercial cattle near Nogales. Green vegetation dots the desert for miles from Fish’s ranch headquarters to the ranch’s edge on the Arizona-Mexico border. Black Angus cattle dip their heads to grab another bite of mesquite. Fish works to bring sustainable cattle raising from the fringes to the mainstream, conserving water and maintaining pasture health to make the land more productive. He marries those practices with feed efficiency and breeding practices that he says set his system apart from traditional ranching techniques.

“Ultimately, our goal is to produce a safe, wholesome, tasty, nutritious product that’s going to go on America’s dinner plate,” Fish said of cattle ranchers. “So everything that we can do to move toward that goal is going to increase our economic ability to survive and thrive.”

Most days start before sunrise with Fish styling his handlebar mustache and slipping on his cowboy hat. He spends his days driving, riding, mending, breeding, vaccinating and herding cattle. One day he could be on the back of his big, brown horse sorting cattle with his fellow cowboys. The next day he could be out fixing a broken pipe, trading in his pressed Western button-up for a ragged T-shirt.

Fish looks like an iconic cowboy, straight from faded, 19th century photographs. But he represents a cattle ranching system focused on the future.

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