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Range Livestock Production in Southeastern Arizona
By moniquegarcia on Tue, 09/03/2013 - 12:03pm
Approximately 12 percent of the range beef cattle in Arizona are located in Cochise, Graham and Greenlee counties, with a value in 2010 of $90,396,000 (2010 Arizona Agricultural Statistics Bulletin). The intermingled ownership of federal, state and private lands creates a need to balance livestock grazing with natural resources. This is especially important as livestock producers have been reducing and managing herds as a result of drought conditions for the past 14 years. The rangelands where these livestock are raised are some of the most productive in the state. They not only support livestock grazing, but a variety of multiple uses. Focus groups held in 2008 among agency personnel, extension agents, campus specialists and ranchers identified the following priorities: range monitoring, improvement in agency/rancher relations; Coordinated Resource Management and livestock production issues.
Description of Action:
The range livestock program strategy supports research, education and extension efforts to improve understanding of animal reproduction, nutrition, genetics and physiology for improved efficiency, performance, health and well-being of animals. The program seeks to optimize resource use while delivering environmental benefits. Examples of activities include livestock nutrition workshops, rangeland monitoring, alternative energy for ranchers, grazing trials, estrous synchronization trials, marketing, investigating suspicious livestock losses, talks for small acreage landowners, and others.
During 2011 three educational workshops/trainings were conducted covering rangeland and livestock management topics in southeastern Arizona. The workshop topics and presentations were developed as team efforts with various agencies, university agents and specialists. Topics included “Rangeland Monitoring with a Tablet PC,” 9 participants; “Nogales & Sierra Vista Districts Forest Service Permittee Meeting,” 39 participants; and Being a Range Cow is a Hard Way to Make a Living” Workshop, 50 participants. Estrous synchronization trials were conducted in cooperation with three producers in Santa Cruz County.
As part of the Rangeland Monitoring & Inventory Program, 59 sites on 20 BLM allotments and 51 sites on 16 USFS allotments were monitored. Ten riparian areas were monitored on US Forest Service lands. Monitoring reports were prepared for each allotment and given to agencies and ranchers. Other monitoring was conducted on an additional 4 allotments. Program updates were provided to the Greenlee and Cochise-Graham Cattlegrowers' Associations at their annual meetings. Two major Coordinated Resource Management efforts continued on two ranches, facilitating interagency meetings and field inventory and monitoring.
The three workshops held in 2011 (mentioned above) averaged a rating of 4.6 (80 evaluations turned in). All workshop ratings are on a scale of 1 being not valuable to 5 being very valuable. Eighty-eight percent of participants were able to list two key concepts taught at the workshop. Seventy-four percent of participants listed at least one specific new management practice that they intend to implement in the next two years. Thirty-three percent of ranchers were actively engaged in the monitoring of their allotment.
Comments from participants at the “Rangeland Monitoring with a Tablet PC” included “…We all learned a lot and we accomplished our goal of learning to use the tablet and putting it to work in the field” and “Andrew got us over the fear of the tablet and even got everyone having fun.”
Forty-eight percent of the ranchers were actively engaged in the monitoring of their allotment.
Estrous synchronization trials included groups of 450 cows and 121 cows in 2011. The largest producer reported pregnancy rates of 60-70 percent from a single service. There was an economic impact of fewer “clean-up" bulls. By having more cows become pregnant at the beginning of the breeding season to artificial insemination, fewer bulls were needed to breed the cow herd, decreasing the producer’s cost per pregnancy. Additionally, the cooperating herd with the majority of mature cows had over 90 percent of his cows calving in a three-week period, resulting in a more uniform, marketable calf crop for the rancher.