Grazing Problems in the Southwest and How to Meet Them

As the studies of rangeland degradation and improvement move forward (Or backward according to some). We all need to seek out the cause of our loss of pristine rangeland conditions found when ranchmen first began to graze livestock on those lands. I recently came across a USDA publication published in 1899, it focuses on rangelands in the exact area that I have the privilege in ranching. The publication is a short read of 48 pages and gives a very good rendition of past events and what might be done to improve or at least return to the excellent grazing capabilities of our rangelands.


Below I have provided the web address of the publication. It is free and an easy read, while you are reading it remind yourself that it was written by a man living within the era of the beginning of the large-scale grazing of the rangeland. I found myself having to ‘pinch’ myself on a regular basis to remind me that it was written in 1899.


While I do not agree with everything Smith has to say, his facts and theories are compelling and anyone dealing with the rangelands of our great nation should study his thoughts carefully.


Grazing Problems in the Southwest and How to Meet Them

By Jared G. Smith

Published 1899


Mid-January photo: Grazed in October; Cool season grasses are responding well to rest period.IMG_0076

Published by

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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