Category: Ecology & Grazing

4 Reasons Why Increasing Weaning Weights May Not Increase Profit

I gotta stop reading this stuff. A recent article in a self-proclaimed “progressive” magazine claimed that July deworming was an often-overlooked opportunity to increase weaning weight and therefore profit.   According to the article, deworming can increase weaning weights by at least 30 pounds at a cost of $7.85 per cow/calf pair. With a market […]

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5 Keys to Quality Cattle

A popular industry magazine found its way to my desk this week. An article that described five essential “wisdoms” for producing quality cattle piqued my curiosity. According to the author, the first key is “Be fanatic about animal health.” Key number two is “Pay the extra money for a good bull and build a reputation for […]

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Is Your Ranch Fire-proof?

The risk of wildfire has always been a normal part of ranching. But today we are faced with a new normal that includes the increased risk of catastrophic wildfire. The number of wildfires hasn’t changed much. There are roughly the same number of fires now as when I was cutting fire lines on a Forest […]

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Boots On The Ground & Eyes Looking Down

I recently participated in a pasture rejuvenation workshop. My presentation on grazing principles was followed by an explanation of a multi-year trial on pasture rejuvenation. I didn’t understand why pasture rejuvenation was such a big issue to the attendees. A well-managed pasture shouldn’t need mechanical, herbicide or seeding treatments to stay healthy and productive. My […]

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How Long is Long Enough?

The biggest mistake people make in grazing management is providing too short a recovery period for plants after grazing. Of course too much rest isn’t good either. In drier environments excluding animals from a pasture long after it has recovered will lead to reduced productivity, dead grass and bare soil. In wetter environments it can […]

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To Move or Not To Move

How do you know when it is time to move animals from one pasture to another? Most people figure that if they are out of feed in one pasture, it is time to move. The herd is probably standing at the gate voicing their agreement that it is time to “Mooove.” There’s nothing they’d like […]

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Pounds per Head or Pounds per Acre

For decades we’ve been encouraged to evaluate the efficiency of production by focusing on weight weaned per cow. Now some are arguing that the critical measure should really be pounds weaned per acre. But neither measure is very useful. Each is just a different side of the same failed paradigm: increasing production will increase profit. […]

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Going Around In Circles

Rotational grazing doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for at least two reasons. One reason it doesn’t work is that, rather than rotationally graze, most people rotationally overgraze. They get overstocking and overgrazing confused. Overstocking happens when you have more animals than you have grass to support them. Overgrazing happens when you keep animals in a pasture too long or bring […]

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Half and Half

Take half – leave half.  It is probably the most common advice you’ll hear regarding grazing utilization. In my opinion it is bad advice. It was probably the brainchild of someone looking for a one-size-fits-all, easy-to-remember recipe. It may be easy to remember, but this recipe is likely to produce a crummy meal. What does […]

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Cowboys and Grassmen

I once heard Bud Williams say, “Ranchers love their cows and hate their grass.”  Bud thought they had it backwards. They should love their grass and hate their cattle. I know that Bud didn’t really hate cattle or think that anyone else ought to hate them, but his point was that for a livestock business […]

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