Colorado Pastures...

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Hey all,
I've been looking to leave the city behind and move out to eastern co. Course i rely on the city for a job, so i can't leave it totally. But anyways i've been looking at some properties, meanly 40's some 80 acre lots (zoned A of course). My question is what do you look for in a pasture? Do you care what it looks like or is it just better to start from scratch and grow your ideal pasture? I am going to run a few horse and cows, but i understand well that you need a good pasture and the facilities. Is there any other things you look for...rolling hills, trees, water, etc.? I just want to do my homework before going and looking at these properties. Don't want worthless land. Preciate the help. :tiphat:
 

I luv herfrds

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Well for that small of a lot look for one already fenced with barbed wire not the plastic fence some people use.
Look for a well and if the water is livestock safe. Problem with a creek or stream is it can go dry and your stock is out of water.
Go to the local extension office and talk to them about the type of grasses in your area. these people are very informative. they may also have some panthlets for you to read.

Good luck and welcome to the board. :welcome:
 

BSKDixie

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It really depends on a lot of different variables in this situation. How many cows/horses are you planning to run? How often will you be there? When you're not there who will be doing the work? These issues are some of the most important ones when dealing with absentee ownership, especially when livestock is involved.

When looking at a pasture from a personal standpoint I look at the quality of the pasture, has it been overgrazed or neglected? If it has what will I have to do to return it to a grazable state? What are the predominant species?

I don't know what your level of experience is but I wouldn't suggest starting from scratch, especially if you won't be involved full time, this will just cause some big headaches. From a monetary standpoint also, you just plopped minimum (I don't know Eastern Colorado land prices or forages) $100,000 for your acreage, do you really want to turn around and blow another check on a planting that may not be necessary, especially if you're not raising these cattle for profits? It sounds easy out loud to say that you'll start from scratch and plant a pasture, but it is a huge undertaking, especially on a 40 or 80 acre parcel with I'm guessing no irrigation or not very many water rights (I do know Colorado water rights are always a battle). I would also suggest talking to an Extension Agent for the county you're looking at and have him take a look at your situation, and develop a good plan for your property

If the property does not have a well, you'll want to get a estimate of well depths and possible perc sites on the property before you do anything, as water will be right up there with good forages. Rolling hills and the like don't matter much, depending on what your plan for your situation is it would probably be nice to have trees or whatever else for shelter (once again I don't know E. Colorado hot summers? bad winters?) otherwise you'll have to build a windbreak or some shade yourself

Feel free to ask away, and I'd like to hear more about what your plans are in terms of cattle operation and your goals are
 

Running Arrow Bill

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In the 1970's I lived in SW Kansas and also Denver Front range area. Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas are basically "semi-arid" climates. Not a lot of trees and fair amount of sand, etc. East of I-25 is a lot of open spaces that is a magnet for winter blizzards. Areas of La Junta, Kit Carson, Pueblo, Ordway, etc. are pretty barren. (I've traveled all over Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado from Pueblo to the Wyoming state line.). The San Luis Valley (between I-25 and about 30 miles to West in SE Colorado, from South out of Salida to past Alamosa) is essentially Desert. Unless the Laws in Colorado have changed since the 1970's, "good luck" on getting a permit to drill a new well...and, the depth and costs would probably be very expensive.) If there is not already an existing good producting well there and/or a good creek, then I would avoid the property like the plague.

Signs of over-grazing of pastures include broomweed, sagebrush (tumble weeds), cacti, yucca, and other very desert-like plants. A lot of semi-arid "native type" grasses will be clump or bunch grasses that do not spread by runners (like bermuda grass, etc.).

The main thing that the Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas environment needs is WATER. When I lived in Garden City, KS., there was a saying that "you can grow anything here with enough water". Case in point: most of agricultural crops in that region use Center Pivot Irrigation units. Your rainfall in those regions are probably in the 15 to 20" a year...check with Extension Service.

Warm season grasses are very difficult to establish, and without irrigation in a semi-arid climate one is just wasting seed, fuel, labor.

Just my opinion and experiences in that region. ;-)
 
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Thanks for the help so far. My dream is this....I just want to get out of the city here a little ways. Right now i live in colorado springs and hoping to get a job out at schriever AFB, about 15 minutes east of Colorado Springs. I'd like to be within 45 minutes of the city in case i need it. So my plans are to move to a house on acreage, that way i can get away and still tend to cattle. One thing i'm not sure on is, if the house has water from a well, can i use that same well for my cattle?
My plans for livestock are, a couple horses meanly for trail (hunting) i might try to move cow with them. At first i think i'll just get a couple steers for beef. Learn handling, caring, etc. from them. Then i might step up to a couple proven cows and breed them. At most i'd have 6 to 8 mouths to feed. I do have a weekend rancher to help me, he's been doing this for about 30 years or more. I help him brand, build fence, haul feed, run through cattle, so i've seen the basics. Just enjoy helpin him so much, i want to know how it feels to raise some of my own. I've got alot of family that would love some great tastin grass feed beef.
 

3waycross

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Misfortunes' Own Son":23vrslg6 said:
Thanks for the help so far. My dream is this....I just want to get out of the city here a little ways. Right now i live in colorado springs and hoping to get a job out at schriever AFB, about 15 minutes east of Colorado Springs. I'd like to be within 45 minutes of the city in case i need it. So my plans are to move to a house on acreage, that way i can get away and still tend to cattle. One thing i'm not sure on is, if the house has water from a well, can i use that same well for my cattle?
My plans for livestock are, a couple horses meanly for trail (hunting) i might try to move cow with them. At first i think i'll just get a couple steers for beef. Learn handling, caring, etc. from them. Then i might step up to a couple proven cows and breed them. At most i'd have 6 to 8 mouths to feed. I do have a weekend rancher to help me, he's been doing this for about 30 years or more. I help him brand, build fence, haul feed, run through cattle, so i've seen the basics. Just enjoy helpin him so much, i want to know how it feels to raise some of my own. I've got alot of family that would love some great tastin grass feed beef.

Go to the country extension agent in whatever county you are looking at and ask them what is the stocking rate for that area. Like everyone else said WATER IS KING. DO NOT buy a place without it or you will be miserable. Plan on spending a lot more than you thought if you want good pasture and water.
 

msscamp

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Misfortunes' Own Son":j26b2ib9 said:
My question is what do you look for in a pasture?

More grass than weeds - weeds are a sure sign that the pasture has been overgrazed or neglected. I would go for native grasses rather than improved, reason being is that native grasses are acclimated to the growing conditions/climate and, with proper management, don't need a lot of extra care/irrigation usually.

Do you care what it looks like or is it just better to start from scratch and grow your ideal pasture?

Yes, I would care what the pasture looks like. To start from scratch would mean that I would have limited grazing for at least a year, and considering that Colorado tends to be a semi-arid state, probably 2 or more years to get the new grass established well enough that it could handle steady grazing without running the risk of killing it.

I am going to run a few horse and cows, but i understand well that you need a good pasture and the facilities.

You are aware that horses tromp out far more grass than they eat, aren't you? If you choose to run horses on this kind of acreage, you have cut the number of cattle it can carry by a significant amount. On 40-80 acres, I believe I would be penning the horses.

Is there any other things you look for...rolling hills, trees, water, etc.?

Water is of tantamount importance, the cost of sinking a well ran about $10,000 plus several years ago. Make sure you have a well that has the capacity to provide water for all of your pastures - as well as pens - and that their are underground lines and tanks in place before you sign on the dotted line. I checked into trenching a line from an existing stock tank to a pen approximately 30' south of that tank, and was told it would cost a minimum of $500.00(depending on how long it took to find the water line) including the waterer. Another thing, don't rely on creeks/streams/ponds/etc, because they can dry up during a drought and you're not only out of luck, but you are now in the position of having to haul in water. There is also the issue of the EPA having an issue with livestock doing their business in running water that feeds into rivers. You might also want to consider buying a property that has water rights for irrigation, as well as an irrigation system in place, because that increases the number of cattle you can run/acre. Make sure you do your homework on the stocking rate, as well. That's all I can think of right now.
 

Busterz

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How far are you from the Arkansas river? A 40 acre tract that is flood irrigated along the river could probably run a lot more than 80 acres of non irrigated.
 

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