Extension by Anowar IslamWritten by Anowar Islam
Benefits from grass-legume mixtures include reduced nitrogen fertilizer requirements because legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen; increased protein and digestibility; extended grazing periods; more competitive ability against weeds; and better protection against plant heaving, cold injury and soil erosion because of better coverage. Additionally, mixtures are as easy to cure as hay; are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions; result in reduced bloat potential when mixtures contain 40 percent or more grass; have reduced nitrate poisoning and grass tetany potential when mixtures contain 40 percent or more legumes; and have reduced lodging potential for legumes.
To accomplish the above-mentioned benefits from grass-legume mixtures, some basic principles need to be followed. First, keep the mixture simple. One grass and one legume in the mixture is often sufficient and more than four species mixture is not generally recommended.
For compatible and most adaptive species, mixtures should contain similar and compatible growth characteristics and most importantly, are adaptive to the mixture of intended use. Most vigorous and rapid growth species may take over the others.
It is also important to look at similar maturity date and palatability. Mixture species should have similar maturity dates and palatability. Different maturity dates and palatability will create many areas that will not be grazed by grazing animals and eventually will be dominated by unpalatable species.
Additionally, high quality and pure seed selection is important. The latest cultivars have better agronomic characteristics with superior pest resistance ability and thus justify their use over the older cultivars. However, most adaptive cultivars are recommended to use. Local and regional variety test results are useful in selecting superior and adaptive cultivars and species.
Opinion by Chelsea HamptonWritten by Chelsea Hampton
Chelsea Hampton, Project Coordinator, Wyoming AgrAbility
Opinion by Jim MagagnaWritten by Jim Magagna
Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President, Wyoming Stock Growers Association
Sunday October 1, 2012 – The day that wolves were delisted in Wyoming (for the second time)! Some may view this as a day of celebration. Others may have taken up the challenge of killing a wolf on this first day. For Wyoming ranchers, Sunday might better be described as a day of Thanksgiving. Ranchers do not have a passion for killing wolves. We have a passion for protecting our livestock and defending our private property. This is a passion that most Americans do not understand. They have been falsely led by wolf advocacy groups to believe that Wyoming ranchers are killers. Today, our right to protect our livestock has been restored in one significant way. For that we are thankful.
Ranchers are also thankful to Governor Matt Mead and his staff, who led the way in securing a delisting on Wyoming’s terms. Ranchers should be thankful to each of Wyoming’s agricultural organizations that never wavered in their resolve to maintain the predator status of wolves in the greatest possible area of the state. We are thankful to those sportsmen’s organizations that stood with us in this struggle. We are grateful to those of our neighbors who have agreed to accept the heavier burden of being in the trophy game or flex areas of the state. This was a team effort.
As in so much of life, with success comes responsibility. Ranchers in the trophy game and flex areas must take the time to inform themselves regarding the complexities of property defense, take permits, reporting requirements and compensation criteria. Those who kill a wolf in the predator area must meet the requirement of reporting that kill, including the location and the sex of the animal, to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department within 10 days. We should willingly comply with the request that we voluntarily submit a hair or other sample for genetic testing.
Our actions can do much to demonstrate our true passion for the protection of our livestock. For a rancher, the decision to shoot a wolf is a business decision. Like our many other business decisions, it should be executed and publicized with discretion. Let us not feed the coffers of the wolf advocates with statements, photos and actions that facilitate their portrayal of ranchers as “blood thirsty wolf killers.” The Wyoming rancher’s response to this hard fought victory should, like all else in our daily lives, reflect the Code of the West that we have worked to perfect throughout our history.
Extension by John RittenWritten by John Ritten
By John Ritten, UW Extension Economist
Maybe it’s a bit late for a drought management plan this year, but this may be the best time to reexamine what happened and evaluate how you responded.
I assume many of you have already done a lot in response to the drought and may not require much more action this year, while others are still deciding whether or not they will have to cull deeper still. Regardless, I’m sure all of you have done something, and many wish they would have done more sooner.
Also, many of you likely want to forget about this year and move on as soon as possible. However, now is probably the best time to reflect and put on paper when some of those decisions you would have done differently might have occurred and what milestones would have signaled it was time, so next time you’re ready to pull the trigger. Also, now is a good time to start thinking about next year. What will/should you do if forage returns? What will or should you do if it doesn’t?
Plan for drought
There are a few key points to remember when planning for or responding to a drought. Make sure you have an accurate assessment of your environment, including both the herd and ranch situations. Include factors such as herd needs and current grazing potential, as well as current and expected market environment. For example, some people took animals to market this spring or early summer as forage just started to look scarce with the realization that prices were about as favorable as they were likely to get for some time, especially if they expected drought-related culling to continue across the region. These producers saved their forage and likely made money as they decreased herd numbers.
Along these lines, it is important now to understand what your current herd requires in terms of forage needs in the coming year(s). In Wyoming, drought events are often prolonged, and relying on precipitation next year may very well be a losing bet. It may make more sense to decrease herd numbers a bit more this fall, especially as current prices are still well above the five year average.
Once you have an idea of where you are, you need to decide where you want to be long-term and what you’re willing to do to get there in the short-term. For example, a lot of cows left our area this year. A majority of producers in this state refer to themselves as cow/calf producers. I assume a lot of them would like to stay that way. However, I also expect the price of both heifers and cows to be near record next year as the national herd begins to rebuild.
Rather than rebuilding with breeding stock next year, it may make some sense to further cull cow numbers in the next year or two in order to keep some calves back as yearlings. Consider, for example, culling after weaning this fall. Remember, cull prices are still much higher than historical averages.
This does two things. It reduces herd requirements on forage and adds flexibility if the drought continues. It’s often easier to send a steer to market in May than it is a pair. Then, after prices return to ‘normal’ levels, you can begin to rebuild breeding stock through purchases or increased heifer retention.
Learn from others
I would also advise you to look at your neighbors. Some of them probably fared better than you this year and some of them probably worse. Learn from both of them. What did the good producers do? See if you can incorporate any of their strategies into your operations. What did the less prosperous do? Examine your operation and see if you are following any of their trends. Maybe you’re doing a lot of the same things, they got hit this year and you’re set up to follow the same path next year if the drought continues.
Again, this is a good time to evaluate your operation. What did you do, and where did it leave you? What could you have done? Are there any obvious opportunities available this fall or next spring? For example, maybe you can sell some bred cows next year at those record prices, and get back in the market in a year or two after things settle down a bit.
Are there any major threats you are or will be facing? You may have made it through this year, but how does your range look? Will it provide good forage next year if we get rain, or will it require additional recovery time?
Every operation is different, but learn what you can from those around you. Good and bad producers both can help us learn.
Also, visit with your local extension team. They will likely have some insight into range recovery times and expected animal performance in the coming years. And if you want to look at how different strategies perform on paper across extended drought, visit wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B1219.pdf.
You may want to bookmark the weather services 90-day outlook at cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=01 and visit it in the spring to see if there are early warnings of extended drought.
Also, a good resource regarding rangeland response to drought can be found at wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/MP111_09.pdf.
Finally, I would again encourage you to do a good self-evaluation. Where do you currently stand? Can you afford another drought year? Then decide where it is you want to be in five to 10 years, and what you’re willing or able to do to get there.