Range management has become much more than just looking at which grasses exist on the rangeland you own and lease. It has become a discussion about how to protect habitats and soil health while utilizing your livestock as a tool. In this context, it’s necessary to consider the components involved in making decisions about your livestock both on and off pasture—especially when utilizing federal lands.
Keep reading for some insights …
Be aware of forage type and quality
You can better understand the health of your grazing landscape by learning more about the ecology of the area including the plants that exist on the land, the soil, and the general climate.
Understand amount of forage expected versus amount of forage that grows
Quality range management uses adaptive practices that shift with current range conditions. In this sense, knowing when you need to leave pastures early, destock, or find supplemental forage can help your operation’s viability and keep the range intact.
Know the habitats that exist on your range
Livestock placed on the range can be symbiotic with its wildlife and vegetation if they are managed in a way that helps landscapes flourish. Be able to identify what species rely on the land and how your livestock impact their resource availability.
Use forage budgeting to calculate carrying capacity
You can get rangeland averages through forage budgeting, and this helps you determine appropriate stocking rates and the longevity of the pasture area your livestock occupy. The Rangeland Analysis Platform (Rangelands app) is a really good tool for this!
Add PRF insurance to your ranch management toolkit
Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) insurance is an excellent hedge against potential losses on your pasture and rangeland due to lack of rainfall. With this coverage, you can receive indemnity payments when rainfall goes below the 70-year average for the area, and you can use it to purchase additional forage resources.
A Little More About Livestock and Range Management
As the grazing season progresses, you will find it beneficial to track forage utilization and forage growth to see if you are coming in above or below your forage “budget.” If you’re above, great! If you’re below, you will need to either adapt your stocking rate or modify grazing duration on the pasture you’re using.
Overall, by keeping up to date on range conditions, you give yourself time to make other management decisions should your livestock need to leave pastures early. The key point in range management, really, is to practice good stewardship over all things within your pastures.