From the Ground Up - Restocking Decisions

When the drought is over, and forage production and pastures have come back, beef producers will begin to restock and expand their cow herds.

"OK, you've got cows, now you have an opportunity to think about what you're going to do when it starts to rain, so you don't have to make those decisions when it starts raining, make those decisions now."

Joe Paschal is a livestock specialist with Texas Agrilife Extension.

"Think about what you can restock with relative to your forage availability, and then think about in terms of restocking, what kind of stress do you have on your cows, in terms of their living stress. If there's lots of forage out there, and you help control internal and external parasites and diseases, you probably have a very low level of environmental stress."

Drought brings with it high levels of stress on cattle.

"If everything's great, nearly anything will work, but if everything's really poor, that narrows your choices, and I tried to get folks to think about choices as kind of in five general areas. Things like milk production, and mature size, and calving ease, and adaptation to stress, and muscling, and then the ability to retain some level of fat, because we want our cows to kind of live off the land, we don't want to always have to feed them."

There are five or six different breed groups that can make up a base cow herd.

"Whether it's British, or Brahman, or American, what kinds of sire types can you use to fit either a market or a replacement market, so are you planning on selling all your calves? We talked about what specific crosses of sires to use with what specific crosses of dames, and if it's all market, these are the ones you might be interested in. If you plan on keeping replacements, here's some others that you might be interested in."

So there really is a little more to beef production than putting some cows out in a pasture and gathering their calves. Tough times force ranchers to make decisions about restocking that may help them better weather the next curve Mother Nature throws at them. I'm Ashley Batey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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