In 2016, Morris Moore, of Siloam, decided to step away from a long-time career in the world of corporate finance. But it was no retirement — he was just making a career change to becoming a cattleman.
Now he and his wife, Denise, handle a herd of about 30 head of cattle, with plans to grow his operation as he expands beyond the 60 acres of pasture he has now.
Moore was recently recognized by the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association with the 2022 NC Environmental Stewardship Award for pursuing what he calls regenerative agricultural practices.
“Basically, it’s focusing on healthy soil, which includes good soil biology,” he said. “If you have healthy soil it’s going to produce healthy forages for your cattle or livestock, which in turn will give them better quality of meat.”
The practice also tends to be better for the environment.
“With my cows, I planted pastures that have high diversity in plant species,” he said of how he farms. He said he has nine different plant species in his pastures, which offers his cattle sustenance that includes a wide variety of minerals. The mix of different grasses also means the soil stays healthier. While some of the grass he plants is more traditional for pasture cover, with shallower roots and quicker growth, other grasses have much deeper roots that help hold the soil in place during times of drought — as well as pull nutrients from deeper in the ground.
Moore said he also does not use any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, nor herbicides. Instead, he tends to allow the forage grass to grow longer.
“When you keep your forage taller in the pasture, it provides shade for the soil,” he said, and tends to offset the need for chemicals.
It also helps avoid root loss that traditionally happens when cattle are feeding on short grass, foraging around on the ground to get the last bit of grass.
One other practice he employs is rotational grazing. Using a light fence and temporary fence posts, Moore moves some of his fencing routinely, sequestering his cattle in a different section of his pastureland.
“A daily rotation is typically what I do when the forage is growing, in the spring, summer and fall,” he said. Some of his land is grazed only a day or two every 30 to 45 days.
“All of that serves to benefit the strength of the forage that’s growing in the pasture,” he said.
While Moore spent his career in finance, he fondly recalls his growing up years, spending summers on his grandfather’s cattle farm. It was there he believes the desire to be a farmer was first planted. When he had the chance, Moore took it — but he also knew he didn’t want his farm to be exactly like the one from his childhood.
”I’d been looking for something that wasn’t just conventional commodity agriculture,” he said. “Something to differentiate what I’m doing.”
Shortly after his 2016 retirement from the corporate finance world, he attended a conference on regenerative agricultural practices and decided that was for him.
He and his wife began the operation in 2018, and he has plans to continue growing.
“I have about 60 acres in pasture, plan to add 30 more over the next (few) years,” he said. He also would like to grow his herd size to around 40 to 45 head.
“One of my objectives is to get enough pasture developed I can have some… (that) I can plant to supplement the grazing during the winter, or have pasture I can let grow in later summer and fall, so cows can go and graze that in the winter. Looking to reduce the amount of hay I need to get the cows through the winter.”
He and his wife have also recently started a retail meat operation, selling grassfed meat directly to the public. For more information, visit the farm’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100074793154506