are now grown at home.
Shanon says heifer calves typically
stay with their dams until they are
weaned in February. They are then
fed a hay ration (grass hay plus
alfalfa) targeting modest gains of a
half-pound per day. While the numbers
retained can vary with the year,
most of the heifers will go to grass in
May, at a year of age, and be exposed
to bulls for a 28-day period, starting
“We expose a lot more heifers than we
need, choose replacements from those
that breed and sell the rest as feeder
cattle,” adds Shanon. “And developing
heifers at home, on grass, is a lot
cheaper than sending them to a feedlot.
We can do it for under a buck a day.”
Management of summer grazing
resources continues to evolve. The
operation now has 142 pastures,
which are grazed for periods of three
to six days. In most years, irrigated
pastures are grazed twice, once early
and again late in the season, but
upland pastures are grazed only once.
However, it is now a regular practice to
leave one-third of the upland pastures
ungrazed during each growing season.
Shanon says the benefi ts of that
strategy fi rst became evident when
they were forced to leave some leased
pastures idle while a wind energy
project was under construction. After
that full season of rest, the following
year showed marked improvement
in range health and forage production.
And setting aside that portion of
pastures each year isn’t such a big hit
when considering improved grazing
management’s impact on the whole
An ultrasound lesson for 12 year-old Jentry Sims from her
great-uncle Dr. George Faris, DVM., is captured by Jentry’s
15 year-old brother, Kagan (EDITOR: deluxe photo, Kagan!).
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 71