Resting Pastures Key to Long Term Range Management, OSU's Ryan Reuter Explains- Audio UpdatedWed, 28 Oct 2015 08:11:04 CDT
Updated- The audio file has been updated and is now the Beef Buzz report with Ryan Reuter. Oklahoma State University is looking at ways cow-calf producers can improve management of native range. At the beginning of the year, Ryan Reuter moved from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to Oklahoma State University's Animal Science Department. He became the Associate Professor of Range Beef Cattle Nutrition. On today's edition of the Beef Buzz, Radio Oklahoma Network's Farm Director Ron Hays talks with Reuter about managing native range pastures to maximize nutrition for your beef cattle. Reuter prioritized three main management strategies.
"We need to be prepared to protect our native range from overgrazing, we need to be planning to give late season rest to those native pastures and we need be trying to incorporate prescribed fire and I think those are three key things we need to plan to do," Reuter said.
As livestock producers have dealt with five consecutive years of drought, it has been hard to rest rangeland when grass resources were limited. Some producers have done well, while others need to strive for improvement. Reuter has seen the impact of the drought through overgrazing, lack of prescribed fire, along with cedar and brush encroachment. He said more needs to be done in incorporating those aspects.
Resting pastureland is not easy. Producers need to have another pasture to rotate cattle to. Cattlemen may be forced to lease additional land, sell cattle or put cattle in a confinement system. In putting cattle in a dry lot system, Reuter said this allows producers to move cattle off the pasture for a few months, while still having them remain productive in the herd.
OSU has been looking at keeping cattle in confinement for 120 days. If producers can provide the pasture rest for three or four months and control the environment, Reuter said that can make a dramatic change in management of the grazing resource. This could provide numerous benefits, such as improved vigor of the native grass, improved biodiversity, species composition, and higher cereal stages of grasses.
"Potentially, you're going to have accumulated fuel, so you can incorporate prescribed burning, which is going to control brush and kind of maintain the natural grassland ecosystem that is really important for Oklahoma," Reuter said.
By keeping cattle in confinement system, ranchers can keep their cattle in ownership, management and production. As a result, Reuter said producers will get the grassland management benefits, while still getting income from the cows.
The confinement system also offers management flexibility from year-to-year and season-to-season. This allows cattlemen to respond to changes in the weather and market prices. Reuter said this management option gives cattlemen more tools to manage volatility.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Reuter on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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