In the early 1800s-the 1950s (before the invention of artificial hormones, chemical steroids, and GMOs), cattle from all over the U.S. would be sent to feed at the Flint Hills region. They would be driven from as far away as California & Texas, and left to roam in the plentiful open ranges of the Flint Hills. After prime seasons of nutritious grazing, the cattle would then be transported to the Chicago stockyards by railroad. The railroad in effect was the instigator for the development of the Midwest, thanks to these historical cattle drives. What still remains to this day, however, are the great feeding pastures, all-naturally fed livestock, and the ecological sustainability of the Flint Hills. This is also a dog paradise and a great place to visit and explore
Cattle can gain up to two pounds per day grazing on the prairie grasses of the Flint Hills. The calcium found in the limestone erodes into the soil, making the prairie plants more nutritious for grazing animals. Because Bluestem grasses have root systems which extend more than 8’ underground, they are extremely drought–resistant and actually flourish with the annual spring burn-off of pasture. This deliberate burning of old grass was practiced by American Indians, but the American agricultural practice discontinued controlled pasture burning by the late 19th century onward save for the Flint Hills region. It was not until the late 20th century, that range management and scientific experiments proved that regularly burned pastures had healthier grass with fewer weeds and woody plants and produced better livestock gains than did unburned grass. Had it not been for the folk culture of the Flint Hills, this economically-efficient and environmentally-sustainable farming method might have been lost. What is also unique about the Flint Hills is that the Bluestem grasses are so resilient with the ability to store their own nutrients, that they actually thrive with grazing, unlike other fragile ecosystems elsewhere in the world.