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Principles and Practices: Conservation at the Forefront of Stockman Workshop

story by Jaime Tankersley

Over 150 livestock producers gathered for the Ranch Management Clinic offered in Jourdanton, Texas presented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI). Flexible Solutions in Any Market was this year's theme and the message was delivered by a lineup of speakers that when combined, have over 160 years in the livestock industry.

Jason Hohlt, GLCI Rangeland Management Specialist, welcomed all attendees to the meeting and let them know right off the bat that "you're not going to learn how to be a rancher at this clinic, but there are going to be principles that can be applied and will work for you." With that being said, the event was kicked off with the first speaker.

Bill Armstrong spent 32 years managing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Kerr Wildlife Management Area (KWMA) and about thirty minutes explaining the benefits of good grazing management, prescribed burning, and brush control utilized over his three decades. Armstrong has gained extensive knowledge about what it takes to restore degraded, brush infested land for both livestock and wildlife and had the benefit of seeing his work pay off at KWMA.

"Grazing cattle will grow more deer, but you have to have a balance in place and a planned grazing system," Armstrong said. "We high fenced the ranch in 1968 and removed half the deer, and by the early 1970's, we started clearing the land and introducing fire again."

Armstrong slowly watched as the field dressed weight and Boone and Crockett antler score of harvested deer both increased during his tenure at the KWMA.

"Two major factors impacted the land-grazing and fire - and if you mimic those two systems you will obtain diversity." Armstrong explained.

Following Armstrong was West Point, Mississippi native, Mark Hazard. The Hazard family stocker operation has been described as one of the most consistently profitable agricultural ventures in the United States or abroad. Widely respected cattleman Gordon "Doc" Hazard started the operation in the 1940's and has successfully brought his son, Mark, and the rest of the family into the business.

Mark shared the principles that make the operation run smoothly and profitably, year in and year out. He also used his experiences as president of First Commerce Bank in West Point to share the banker's view on cattle loans.

"There is nothing we can do about the market, but stocker management is something we can control," Hazard opened.

"Besides buying cattle at the right time, conditioning, disease control, and forward contracts will all help in delivering a calf with minimal input," Hazard told the crowd.

Adding a twist to the list of speakers was sixth generation rancher, Vance Mitchell. Mitchell's operation is located just outside of Edna in Lolita, Texas.

He has closely studied and applied "Ranching for Profit" and "Bud Williams Marketing and Handling" principles to his livestock business for years. Mitchell explained how he stays flexible and profitable in the livestock business by operating both cow/calf and stocker operations on his ranch.

Closing out the day was CattleFax representative, Troy Applehans. For over 40 years, CattleFax's focus has been information on, by, and for the beef industry. Applehans covered the latest in global beef industry research, analysis, and information.

This event was made possible by the following sponsors: DuPont Crop Protection, Dow Agrosciences, Helena Chemical Company, Lyssy and Eckel, Capital Farm Credit, Texas Ag Finance, Stay Tuff Fence, Texas Mexico Border Coalition, McMullen, Bandera, Medina Valley Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Allways Chevrolet, Atascosa Dodge, Texas Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, San Antonio Steel Company, Coldwell Bankers, Texas Section Society for Range Management, Crossroads Cattle Co. Ltd., Burt Bull Ranches, Lukefahr Ranches, Cavendar Chevrolet, American Legion Post 0436, Duval County Ranch, Armstrong Ranch, and Linda Muguerza.

For more information about upcoming events or additional grazing land management please visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.

Vance Mitchell spoke to over 150 livestock producers. Over 150 livestock producers gathered for the Ranch Management Clinic offered in Jourdanton, Texas.

Vance Mitchell who operates both a cow/calf and stocker operation in Lolita, Texas, spoke to over 150 livestock producers during the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) Ranch Management Clinic held in Jourdanton, Texas.

Over 150 livestock producers gathered for the Ranch Management Clinic offered in Jourdanton, Texas which was presented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI).

The NRCS was one of several vendors set up on site.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service was one of several vendors set up on site and offered Farm Bill program and conservation technical assistance to those in attendance at the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) Ranch Management Clinic.