Retaining Heifers To Expand The Cow Herd - From the Ground Up

Last year’s drought was tough on farmers and ranchers alike, but the effects of a drought can be felt longer by ranchers whose pastures were damaged. It takes time for pastures to recover, and pasture conditions dictate how many animals your land can support.

“Part of what happened last year with the drought is that, I don’t think, in my situation anyway, I’m not back to where I should be with my grass. I think it’s going to take another year, a good year, to get us back weather wise, to get us back to where we need to be with our grass.”

Bobby Kurten is a cow/calf producer.

“Another thing that usually happens, as far as retaining heifers and building up your cow herd; Last year we didn’t have a real good market and our calves, my calves were about 90 pounds a head lighter than they normally are. I would kind of like to see a good year this year, and a good year next year, get about two good years under my belt before I really start to expand a whole bunch.”

Mother Nature made it tough on area ranchers last year.

“Our production was down because of the drought. A lot of the input costs were up because of the drought. We had to feed more last winter. We had less hay going into the winter. We had to buy a lot more feed which hit our costs real hard, and reduced our profits, and that always discourages numbers.”

The rain we received this year helped to start pastures to recover.

“Out in this part of the country, this year’s been great for the rain. We’ve grown some grass. It’s allowed us to stockpile some grass for the winter, Get another cutting of hay for the fall. It’s allowed the people who plant winter grasses, rye grass, oats, clover, that kind of thing, to get a good start on that, but I don’t see a lot of retaining heifers, more than normal. Don’t know if people will build numbers this year or not.”

If Mother Nature continues to cooperate and calf prices remain good, we should see the beginning of an expansion of the cow heard in the near future. I’m Bob French, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our homes, From The Ground Up.

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