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Working Ranch - March 2016

age pastures sustainably, even during drought - not only to maintain the grazing resource but improve it. “We want to use the grass efficiently but take the absolute best possible care of the land. So, if we’ve rotated through the pastures and need to get off, we can lock up the cows and run a feed truck to them until the grass has sufficient time to rest and recover,” Crocker explains. The “lock up” of CA Cattle Company cows is not confinement in the typical sense. Some dry cows spend periods of time being fed in the former growing yard, but not cows with calves. Instead, when pairs must be taken off grass, they are prices prompted the shift from stockers to a cow-calf enterprise. “We started buying cows in 2011 and more in 2012,” recalls Crocker. “Before we did it, we took a really good look at what it would take to maintain a cow on a mixed ration, during various stages of production.” To be clear, however, CA Cattle Company’s primary resource is its grazing land. The operation eventually built its numbers to some 1,600 cows which spend the majority of each year in pastures managed under intensive rotational grazing systems. However, Crocker says the ability to prepare mixed rations and limit-feed cows allows him to manremaining cow numbers together.” In a typical year, though, cows and their young calves are confined for just four to five weeks, beginning about April 20. When the option is available, Newman will pull cows from cornstalks early and take them to irrigated fields planted to winter rye. Cows deliver their calves there, while grazing the rye and receiving a half-ration until pairs are moved to confinement so the fields can be planted to sugar beets. “My deal might not work so well if not for the availability of feed resources,” says Newman, gazing through his kitchen window at the nearby sugar mill. “I have a contract to buy sugar beet pulp and up until this year I had access to wet brewers’ grains. I can take some pretty rough forage – mostly baled cornstalks – and mix it with byproduct and a little dry shelled corn, to make a cow ration.” CARING FOR THE LAND Like Newton, CA Cattle Company operates in close proximity to sources of byproduct feed ingredients. Part of the time, CA cows eat cake. Actually, it’s bakery waste and consists largely of discarded bread. Located near Mason, Texas - not too far from either San Antonio or Austin – CA Cattle Company also makes use of locally available byproducts including a syrup made from melted hard candy, as well as distillers’ grains and corn gluten feed. Cotton burrs account for a large portion of the roughage in cow rations. Formerly a stocker operation, for years the outfit purchased calves, grew them on grass and marketed the cattle as yearlings. A feed mill allowed for preparation of rations to supplement calves while they were on grass, or to feed calves in a modest growing yard. According to managing partner Ron Crocker, high calf MARCH 2016 | WORKING RANCH | 81 “My deal might not work so well if not for the availability of feed resources,” says Ross Newman, Torrington, Wyoming. His grandparents homesteaded the family’s Wyoming Centennial Ranch back in 1912. JULIA NEWMAN


Working Ranch - March 2016
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