Calving season just came to an end on Santa Margarita Ranch, which means that cute calves are now part of the animal kingdom that you can see on our tours.

Did you know that Santa Margarita Ranch is one of the oldest continuously operated cattle ranches in the state of California? Beef cattle were introduced to the area by Franciscan missionaries in 1774 and have remained prominent on the ranch ever since.

The ranch’s current commercial cow calf operation is progressive in nature. Practices include low-stress, natural handling without usage of antibiotics or growth hormones. The ranch also uses rotational “pulse” grazing with an emphasis on conservation and progressive rangeland management.

Creeping wild rye, slender wheatgrass, purple needlegrass and danthonia oatgrass are some of the native grasses that are naturally reestablishing themselves as a result of these practices, which have also generated a proliferation of young native oak trees. Santa Margarita Ranch’s conservation practices have been used to demonstrate the effectiveness of good rangeland management in numerous USDA seminars.

Keep an eye out for the cattle during your next visit—and for the native grasses that they are helping restore.

This post belongs to our SPOTTED series, featuring the rich animal kingdom that inhabits Santa Margarita Ranch.