By Manny Encinias: Ag columnist
Beef producers in the Southwest are commonly challenged to balance forage supply and demand on their grazing operations.
While typically not documented, a tenured manager is always aware of the grazing use patterns within and across pastures on a ranch. Regardless of the year, most managers would like to get more grazing days out of a given pasture by improving grazing utilization in those areas not commonly preferred by cattle.
Pasture attributes (i.e. distance to water, slope, cross-fencing, shade/wind cover, and grass species composition, etc.) coupled with the grazing behavior of cattle provide the basis for grazing use patterns across pastures. Undoubtedly, water developments and cross-fencing provide managers long-term solutions to improve grazing distribution by cattle. However, evaluating how, when, where, and what type of supplements are delivered to cattle can provide lower-cost opportunities to change grazing behaviors, subsequently producing more grazing days and reducing overuse (i.e. grazing and loafing) of conveniently located grazing areas within a pasture.
Training cattle to the supplement of choice