Late Winter Grazing

The recent rains and snows have added wonderful moisture to the stressed rangelands in our area. Being winter moisture coming on rangelands that have received no moisture since September 10 last year, the rangeland response has been slow in coming. Those operators that have healthy summer and cool season perennials will receive positive results over time, but patience is in order. Those that have pushed their grazing operations to the point of little cover of healthy perennial plants and little to no cover of litter over the soil will regretfully receive small benefit. As the bare ground will not be able to store the moisture and most will evaporate. (Additional rains would certainly be of great benefit to all.) Yes, winter weeds like Texas Filaree are making a showing even on those bare soil areas and will provide some desperately needed grazing later in the winter. However, those operations that have developed those strong rooted grasses and good cover will enjoy some recovery from dry conditions even if further moisture is limited. Cool season perennials like Texas Bluegrass, Canada Wildrye and yes Texas Winter Grass will soon have beneficial grazing for those animals being moved to fresh pasture. Those operations that do not have fresh-rested pastures to move to, will suffer the economic trials of increased feeding of purchased products. An expensive process at best.

Picture shows a Claret Cup Cactus or possibly Hedgehog Cactus. (I will leave the final call on name to plant guru’s that are much more qualified to ID. Special thanks to Kent Ferguson and Mark Moseley for their help in providing me possible names.) The one pictured is by far the largest I have ever observed and perhaps the first, being some 2.5’ across and 12” or so tall. Looking forward to catching it in bloom, as it might be an awesome site.

Note that the prickly Pear is considerably dense at this site. I am not too concerned about it, as close by am seeing signs of it dying in large areas of natural causes. It will be interesting to watch and see if the Hedgehog is affected by this phenomenon.

The Better it Gets the Faster it Gets Better.

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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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