How to Determine Cow-Calf Pairs For Pasture Land


Choosing pasture land for sale that will be best suited for your cattle to graze and produce a healthy herd while maximizing and caring for your land may seem like a delicate dance, but with the right strategy in place, you can reap the benefits of owning pasture and cattle.

Planning Ahead for Your Cattle Operations

Whitetail Properties Land Specialist Rustin Hayes in Oklahoma suggests that prospective cattle ranchers plan out their unique goals, considering where they stand on their operations strategy before even populating their herd.

For example, knowing the limits of your grazing pasture will determine how many cattle you can support with either moderate or intense grazing practices.

Rustin suggests: “The operations and ranchers that have another source of income are able to stock accordingly or effectively rotate pastures to maintain better animal and grass conditions.”

Will you focus on what’s best for your cattle or focus more on what’s best for your land? The answer to this question will ultimately depend on your goals and how they fit with the land you own or choose to purchase.

While there is no shortage of resources that prospective ranchers can research, Rustin promotes discretion regarding how and what information you take into consideration.

Every cattleman has their own way of thinking, but nowadays, there are tons of podcasts, books, and studies that can be researched for different success stories of things like paddock rotational grazing, crossbreeding cattle, and certain genetic testing. Although these things can all be beneficial, everything needs to be taken with consideration that these practices may not fit your operation. They may be in different climates and regions or have way more time to devote to their operation.

Pasture Quality and Cow-Calf Pairs

Once you have established your goals and approach as a cattle rancher, it’s time to look for good quality pasture if you don’t already own pastureland. Quality pasture for cattle grazing has the following non-negotiable characteristics.

  1. A balance of nutrients, including grasses and legumes, with grasses at an optimal height to encourage healthy grazing.
  2. Terrain that makes the land navigable by cattle. Avoid land with too much hilly or rocky terrain, and aim for flat, open areas with access to water.
  3. Adequate tonnage to support calf-cow pairs. A good rule of thumb is that one acre of good quality pasture can support one cow-calf pair, although this can vary depending on your climate and cattle breed.

Reaching out to your local cattle rancher’s organization or a knowledgeable Land Specialist in your area will help you determine whether a tract of pasture land for sale in your area will be suitable for a successful cattle operation.


Cattle Ranching Misconceptions

Whitetail Properties Land Specialist Rustin Hayes notes that the main misconception he fields from prospective cattle ranchers is the assumption that cattle ranchers are making a significant amount of money. When ranchers inherit good quality pasture and/or a number of cattle, this may be the case. However, for most ranchers, there are a number of factors that keep cattle ranching a difficult business in which folks are consistently successful.

Here in Western Oklahoma, we fight constant drought, spring wildfires that burn thousands of acres, and sky high hay and feed prices just to afford to keep doing it. Having cattle is in no way a get-rich-quick scheme, or something you can start from scratch to make a consistent steady source of income quickly.

Another misconception lies within assumptions round cattle ranching’s relationship with hunting and wildlife management. Unless land is completely overgrazed, cattle can be used as one effective tool for habitat management. Rustin explains that cattle do eat and digest grasses, but they also tromp and help the overgrown, dead, or dormant grasses to be broken down for decomposition. This process disturbs the soil, which helps to introduce a variety browse for deer.

While controlled burning may be an effective method of habitat management and growth encouragement, cattle grazing can also have positive effects, while providing nesting cover for fauna like turkey and quail.

With the right control, wildlife management and grazing cattle can go hand in hand.

Looking for the right pastureland for sale in your area?

Choosing the right land for cattle grazing requires careful consideration of the quality of the pasture, the location and terrain of the land you intend to use for grazing, and the tonnage needed to support the cattle operations you desire. Also important will be specific research into the breed and needs of your specific herd. To maximize the use of your land, landowners and buyers should take a holistic approach to cattle ranching and consider the needs of both the cattle and the land to ensure the long-term success of your operation while preserving the health and productivity of your land.

If you are ready to take the next step in finding the perfect pasture for your cattle ranching dreams, reach out to your local Whitetail Properties Land Specialist to learn more about ranching opportunities near you.

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