Careful Analysis of Rangeland Critical Going into Winter

While planning for winters grazing program, factor into the equation that the quality of the grass may not be at the level the West Central Texas rancher may be accustomed to. Excellent moisture in late winter-spring and early summer provided excellent-rapid growth. This rapid growth may have produced forage that is not of high quality, resulting in a protein deficient feed source for livestock. (Some of the weaning weights are reflecting this, as the weights are not what was expected.) Without fall rains to ‘freshen’ the summer grasses we could be in for a tough winter. Of course, if the cool season perennials have been cared for, late fall and winter moisture can be an excellent ‘supplement’ to the mature summer grasses.

 

Proper care of cool season perennials is just as important as care for the warm season ones (At least in the area that I work in.) We can’t make it rain. We can only prepare for the possibility that it might not. Then when it does rain, proper grazing management can assist in quickly moving forward the grazing-livestock program.

 

The Big Blue pictured here has struggled with the lack of summer moisture this year as all plants have. It has produced very little seed and shows lack of vigor, as does the Indian Grass at the top portion of the picture. (Will have to zoom in to see it.) However, it is exciting to see that those two grasses have produced some regrowth from the late spring grazing, most other grasses have been in a brown-dormant state all summer. Take note that this picture is on a rocky hill side, Big Blue and Indian are adaptable to many range sites, not just the deep soiled areas. In fact, it has been my observation that the shallow-rocky sites are the first to reveal these two ‘ice-cream’ plants.DSC00876 (002)

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Rangelands and Ranching: A Study of Proper Use of Rangelands & the Environment by Frank S Price

My son and I ranch a cow-calf, wooled sheep and hair sheep operation in West Central Texas. We operate 7 different grazing units and utilize a single herd, traditional pasture grazing program within all these units. My son represents is the 5th generation of this enterprise that was started in 1876 by my great grandfather. He and his brother began by driving a herd of cattle from Ennis Texas to Santa Anna Texas, ultimately driving the herd of cattle they had built to Kansas markets and returned to Sterling County, to begin a permanent ranching operation. Rainfall within our scattered operations runs from 17” to 20”. The winters, while going into the single digits on occasion are relatively mild compared to ranches further north, resulting in mostly mild winters producing usable cool season growth along with the dominant warm season plants.

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