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Just thought someone might find this interesting

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Jogeephus

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Lately I've been working some land that once was a fairly large cattle operation that operated differently than most cattle operations today. During the day this property which encompasses somewhere around 6000 acres was a fairly large cattle operation which primarily raised Herefords. This was rather unique because most operations managed this way run longhorn, coriente, pineywoods or cracker cattle and more recently brangus and braford. The land is dotted with small fields which are fenced to keep the cattle out during the growing season but when the crops were harvested the cattle would be turned loose in these fields to scrap up the any crop residue.

By today's standards these cattle would be viewed as poor performers but the focus wasn't on ADG but on minimal input. Very little thought or effort was put into improved pastures or overseeding with annuals and most everything the cattle ate was native forages. The judicious use of controlled burns was used to promote the growth of native grasses and legumes and impede the growth of woody brush.

Areas were cross fenced but these paddocks might be as large as 1000 acres. The stocking rate was kept to around 1 pair per 21 acres and people grew timber, worked turpentine and cattle simultaneously.

Here is a picture of one of the cross fences. As you can see it is only three strand. Typically perimeter fences got the five strand treatment. I don't know when this fence was put up but I know for a fact it was standing in 1965 and it looks to be in pretty good shape which I think is a testament for creosote posts.



Here is a picture of what the understory looks like after being cowless for 30 years now. This is lower land with good soil moisture. On the hills these forages fade out and you have more bluestem and wiregrass. Wiregrass is high in fat and will lush up in the spring after burning and the cattle will really slick up after eating it. This was the best time to sell the calves but calves were usually sold just whenever people had time to mess with them or when they needed some money.



There was an old saying that "the woods aren't good for cattle but the cattle are good for the woods". There is a lot of truth in this and this might come to a shock to the environmentalists who say cattle are bad for the environment. This is total BS because where this practice is used quail populations were bumping 4-5 birds and acre and flocks of turkey were plentiful. Basically for the quail hunters out there, five birds per acre equates to your seeing over 10 coveys per hour while hunting on horseback. Pretty exciting stuff and definitely shows that cattle can be a benefit to an ecosystem. Oh, and one other thing I can attest to, these quail are near about as crazy as the cattle when you go to try and work them. When the covey rises you know darn well they aren't pen raised.

Just thought I'd share a different method of raising cattle.
 

SmokinM

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Good stuff Jo. You get into the coolest s--t!

Those pine trees look like they are doing ok in that management style also. They putting cattle back on it or just managing for wildlife now?
 

Bright Raven

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It was a pleasure to read that. Thanks for the effort to post that. The insight you provided on a time gone with the wind was value added!!!
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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SmokinM":1fzmwbsp said:
Good stuff Jo. You get into the coolest s--t!

Those pine trees look like they are doing ok in that management style also. They putting cattle back on it or just managing for wildlife now?

They are just smoking it over but there are three people involved so they will have to put it to a vote so who knows. I know one of them would love to get back into cattle but the other two I'm not sure.

I'm involved with two operations doing it this way and we are looking at doing it on a third property. Here we are doing a few experiments first but the experiments are turning out good so I think we'll probably be putting up some fence before long.

More people are leaning this way. One family south of me have gotten into it on a large scale and I think they have a few thousand acres under fence now and looking at adding more. I'm told they are using longhorns.
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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SmokinM":2ci9idzb said:
Good stuff Jo. You get into the coolest s--t!

Those pine trees look like they are doing ok in that management style also. They putting cattle back on it or just managing for wildlife now?

They are just smoking it over but there are three people involved so they will have to put it to a vote so who knows. I know one of them would love to get back into cattle but the other two I'm not sure.

I'm involved with two operations doing it this way and we are looking at doing it on a third property. Here we are doing a few experiments first but the experiments are turning out good so I think we'll probably be putting up some fence before long.

More people are leaning this way. One family south of me have gotten into it on a large scale and I think they have a few thousand acres under fence now and looking at adding more. I'm told they are using longhorns.
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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HDRider":loczqtrl said:
Very interesting. I would have liked to see it while it had cows.

I'll try and remember post some pictures of some I running in the woods. I do a mixed pasture woods grazing thing and winter and spring are when they seem to like the woods over pasture but the woods are getting better each year it seems. My land was neglected when I got it and was covered in brush and trash species. What an environmentalist might call diversity. :roll: The more I push the cattle in the woods the more the understory is transforming back to the prairie nature intended it to be.
 

coachg

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This is how my grandfather raised cattle in Southwest Al. near Atmore. He didn't own the land , a large paper company did ,but he ran his cattle in pine woods for years.Most of his cows probably didn't weigh 750-850 at their best, but all raised a calf.
 

ohiosteve

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Great post. I've always believed cattle in the woods can be a win/win situation. Just a wild guess but I'm guessing not a lick of minerals was fed to those cows but they did just fine. I do this on a much much smaller scale with close to zero inputs and have been selling steers that were bred and born on my place that I only touched one time and that was to pull their testicles out. People actually pay a premium for those steers nowadays.
 

dieselbeef

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old timers down here still do it like that...cpl of my neighbors only see their cows a cpl times a yr
 

True Grit Farms

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RanchMan90":1aoypwds said:
Makes you wonder if we have actually progressed since then as far as profitability and labor efficiency?

Land is to expensive to only run a pair to 20+ acres. Managed long leaf pine trees should generate $100 per year, per acre over a 25 year period. Cows need to do better.
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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True Grit Farms":1pko16vr said:
RanchMan90":1pko16vr said:
Makes you wonder if we have actually progressed since then as far as profitability and labor efficiency?

Land is to expensive to only run a pair to 20+ acres. Managed long leaf pine trees should generate $100 per year, per acre over a 25 year period. Cows need to do better.

Why wouldn't you want $130/acre then?
 

chevytaHOE5674

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Jogeephus":bqelilfl said:
"the woods aren't good for cattle but the cattle are good for the woods". There is a lot of truth in this

As a schooled forester I will say that all depends on the soil type and tree species growing. Well drained ground with appropriate species (IE sandy soils with generally pine) that is true, lesser drained soils typically with more hardwood species it is the opposite of the truth.

I have a lot of woods fenced for pasture and all of it is our typical clay to clay/loam soil with hardwood species growing (maple, birch, ash, oak, aspen, etc). Within 3 years of fencing in the woods and turning cattle loose I have crown die back in 60% of the trees and mortality in 10%, this can be attributed to the compaction and root disturbance. Go 15 feet onto the neighbors land which sits untouched and there is no meaningful crown die back.
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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chevytaHOE5674":1p4qzdqj said:
Jogeephus":1p4qzdqj said:
"the woods aren't good for cattle but the cattle are good for the woods". There is a lot of truth in this

As a schooled forester I will say that all depends on the soil type and tree species growing. Well drained ground with appropriate species (IE sandy soils with generally pine) that is true, lesser drained soils typically with more hardwood species it is the opposite of the truth.

I have a lot of woods fenced for pasture and all of it is our typical clay to clay/loam soil with hardwood species growing (maple, birch, ash, oak, aspen, etc). Within 3 years of fencing in the woods and turning cattle loose I have crown die back in 60% of the trees and mortality in 10%, this can be attributed to the compaction and root disturbance. Go 15 feet onto the neighbors land which sits untouched and there is no meaningful crown die back.

True. As with anything else there is no one size fits all management prescription. I live in the coastal plain which is supposed to be pine with a grass understory. When Bartram traveled through this area he noted that one could ride seven horses abreast through the forests and he noted it had a grass understory. Here is a picture of some land that has been managed using a multiple use approach and it is in a similar state to which Bartram described. Plenty of timber production, plenty of wildlife and ample food for cattle.

 

chevytaHOE5674

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There is some sand soil and pine around here but it is generally so well drained that the only thing that grows in the understory is bracken fern and maybe a few grasses but it is generally considered a "wasteland" as far as diversity goes. Much of the forested land in the north is deciduous hardwoods which thrive in the wetter clay and loam soils which suffer from major compaction issues.

If I was managing my land for timber quality and quantity UP here there is no way I would graze cattle in it. Since I live 1/4 of a mile from lake superior and our climate is very harsh, and soils extra wet most of the valuable hardwoods (maple, oak, birch) only grow in poor form it doesn't bother me to let the cattle clear out the trees for me.
 
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Jogeephus

Jogeephus

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Yeah, you are in a totally different forest than I am. I surely wouldn't want cattle stomping the shallow roots of white ash and infecting them with heart rot.

The USDA is spending millions of dollars in their attempts to promote wiregrass longleaf forests. Millions have been spent on CRP in planting longleaf on cropland and once planted participants are told to plant wiregrass and other native grasses but most of these grass plantings fail and have to be redone over and over at a huge cost to the taxpayer. One of the most recent debacles was when they brought in a bunch of partridge pea from Texas which was infected by some sort of pathogen that killed thousands of acres of newly planted longleaf. Also this introduction grew nearly six foot tall and shaded out the longleaf seedlings causing them to die from brown spot needle blight. If this wasn't enough the trees then were burnt to a crisp when the mandatory burn was used because this introduction had an oily substance and would burn so fast gasoline wouldn't have made it burn hotter.

This is a good example of how a one size fits all prescription by people sitting behind desks is ludicrous.

A lot of this is an art coupled with common sense and its the little things that make a huge difference. Little things like pH. Anyone who has spent time in the flatwoods knows wiregrass, big bluestem and to some extent switchgrass usually has companion bushes like blueberry and huckleberry both of which require acidic soils so you would think it would be easy enough to connect the dots and realize you will not be successful planting wiregrass right behind peanuts and cotton just as you are not going to be successful planting blueberries in a field behind cotton.

In spite of the USDA's desire to throw tax dollars at it some people are learning there is merit to the old ways and one can use cattle to reclaim this ecosystem while even making a few dollars in the process. Not to mention the benefits to hunting - especially quail. In that respect, I believe cattle are good for the environment. In most of the flatwoods the desirable grasses are already there and need only a chance to grow free from the competition of the galberry and fetterbush. A couple good fires followed by the introduction of cattle to keeps things beat down and some patience and you have just restored an ecosystem and made a few dollars doing it.

Surely its not some get rich quick scheme and will require some patience and forethought but at the end of the day the benefits sure seem to outweigh the costs in my view.
 

Turkeybird

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chevytaHOE5674":3la0fiff said:
Jogeephus":3la0fiff said:
"the woods aren't good for cattle but the cattle are good for the woods". There is a lot of truth in this

As a schooled forester I will say that all depends on the soil type and tree species growing. Well drained ground with appropriate species (IE sandy soils with generally pine) that is true, lesser drained soils typically with more hardwood species it is the opposite of the truth.

I have a lot of woods fenced for pasture and all of it is our typical clay to clay/loam soil with hardwood species growing (maple, birch, ash, oak, aspen, etc). Within 3 years of fencing in the woods and turning cattle loose I have crown die back in 60% of the trees and mortality in 10%, this can be attributed to the compaction and root disturbance. Go 15 feet onto the neighbors land which sits untouched and there is no meaningful crown die back.
That's why you run a low stocking rate
 

callmefence

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So just fence in some country. Turn out some cattle and let em eat what grows there. Don't put to many or they'll run outta stuff to eat... revolutionary..who would of ever thunk it
 

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