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Herd Behavior
Econmomics
Watching the Gate
Cost effectiveness of intensive grazing
Stopping your horse


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Cost Effectiveness of Intensive Grazing
(and why conventional ranching isn’t cost effective or sustainable)
   
    Before you can make a judgment on whether or not intensive grazing and spending "additional" time in your catte will fit into your plan, there are myths need to be dispelled. 
    Myth number one is that it is too much work and takes too much time away from “necessary“ chores. Other than water, the two most important things on any ranch is forage and the cattle themselves. I had a neighbor who only checked his cattle once a week, and then only made a quick run through them with a pickup or four wheeler. One day he discovered twenty dead calves out of seven hundred and fifty. Too busy to spend time in his cattle, he mass treated at a cost of $5 a head or a cost of  $3,650 and lost an additional fifteen calves before he started checking on his cattle daily. He lost over $15,000 in calves plus the medicine all because he was too busy with other projects to pay attention to the cattle. The cost of that single three week wreck would have paid more than half a year of wages for someone to be herding and taking care of herd health. .
   
    Myth number two (perpetrated by environmentalists) is that cattle damage forage for game and destroy bird habitat. Properly done, intensive grazing will actually improve forage conditions. If there is more forage, there is also more feed for deer and other game, as well as cover for quail and other game bird species. There is also a little publicized fact, that if your cattle are running as a herd, game animals will seek protection from predators by running into a large group of cattle.

    Myth number three is that desert ranches need to have cattle drinkers every mile. Ranches that double as hunting ranches want them closer together in addition to having quail drinkers (which only serve to water coyote and Javelina, which is why I call them “predator drinkers“)
  The fact is that having small drinkers fairly close together forces us to scatter cattle which results in lower utilization of the total feed we have. Cattle will hang in the bottoms or on the ridges, overgrazing them while leaving the feed in between virtually untouched. Studies have shown quail receive enough moisture from their diet and do not require additional water. Deer, Bighorn sheep and other game animals were here before any man made water supplies, so having drinkers close together is not necessarily beneficial to game animals and fowl.
    Having to pump water to every drinker on the system year round, which means we have to check the entire system for leaks year round, increasing fuel bills as well as maintenance on vehicles. Not only is it taking more time and costing more to have the entire system running at once, we are pumping more water than wee need due to evaporation loss. If your area has a 10” annual pan evaporation  you will lose approximately 6.2 gallons per square foot. As most drinkers have at least ten square feet, you are losing 62 gallons per year per drinker (not to mention loss from uncovered storage tanks.)  The annual pan evaporation in most areas of the southwest will be higher than 10” a year.

    By concentrating drinkers at storage tanks at approximately two miles apart, you can graze all of your cattle as one herd. This will allow you to either cover, or turn off all but one drinker at all locations other than where your cattle are located. The deer and other big game will still have enough water from the storage tank and the only water you will need to check is where the cattle are watering. The time and expense of driving over the entire system several times a week has suddenly dropped down to just checking where the cattle are has cut your weekly fuel expenses by more than half. If you plan ahead, and have a trailer with a shovel and supplies needed to fix a leak, valve or float, you may be able to do away with even running a pickup other than when you put out salt or mineral. Even then, the only place you will need to put it out, is the one place where your cattle are located. As an added benefit, This wil also reduce the total number of miles in most watering systems. Fewer miles of pipeline in operation reduces the number of leaks you will have, resulting less cost in leak repairs.

    Once you have trained your cattle to act as a herd, you are ready to implement an intensive grazing program where one person can handle your entire herd. You will no longer be over grazing some areas while leaving feed untouched in others. Not only will you be able to achieve proper herd effect to improve forage, have fewer losses to predators, lower not only overall expenses associated with maintaining a water line, but also require less time and labor when it comes time to work your cattle because they will all be in one place, rather than being scattered all over the ranch. In addition, when you herd your cattle, you no longer have strays. Which would you rather do, spend money running all over the ranch ignoring your cattle, or improve your ranch and cattle while spending less money?


Herd Behavior
Economics
Watching the Gate
Cost effectiveness of intensive grazing
Stopping your horse


Contact
Bud Williams Stockmanship
About Bob 2lazy4U Home        The Bovine Blog services