Jump to content
BC Boards

Need help/info from cattlemen and women


Ooky
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm managing a huge survey project on about 4,500 acres. The last time I went out to the site, I noticed that the site was now HEAVILY stocked with cattle compared to other times I've been there. The rancher claims he has 800 head on the site (this will sound like nothing to you easterners and northerners, but it is a heavy seasonal rate for an area that may only get 5 inches of rain a year).

 

We will be surveying for rare plants, and my fear is that such a heavy stocking rate will really comprimise our ability to identify plants that have been grazed off, and thus, complete the surveys in such a way that regulatory agencies will accept our results. Additionally, I noticed these cattle are pretty onery and were even challenging my truck (NOT just following it hoping for feed). Even the cows have horns. Later I learned this guy likes to breed rodeo bulls and has several of those on site. So, safety for my survey crew is also an issue.

 

Normally you just work around such obstacles, but in this case, this is the last or next to last year this guy is even going to be able to have his cattle on the site, as it is either bought or optioned by the private developer who is paying almost a half million dollars for the surveys. So they have a huge interest in making sure the surveys go smoothly and the results are acceptable to the agencies.

 

My question for you all who know much more than I is: assuming the guy uses ATVs (all I have ever seen them using), how difficult will it be to round these cattle up and move them down the road? How much time might it take? They are likely spread in pastures within about 4,000 ac of the site. We are talking with him tomorrow and I'd just like a better wide-angle view of what this amount of work involves, as we expect him to basically tell us it can't be done even if it can be done. We are hoping to get them off in about 2 weeks, and he could bring them back on in about 6 weeks. Since I saw groups of these cattle being brought on and they appeared to know the route down the road, and a couple of months ago there were very few cattle out compared to now. it leads me to believe there's gotta at least be a compromise, but it would help immensely if others gave me their views on something like this so I have a better knowledge base to work from.

 

Would the job be easier if stockdogs were used? These cattle are not dog broke, and were exceedingly responsive to Odin (run away!!!!). I'm not suggesting I use him, but I know people in the area with well-trained cattle-working dogs who do work on a contract basis. But I won't even suggest this if more experienced people think it wouldn't be easier, given they are not broke.

 

Thank you in advance!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like the owner would have waited till the guys lease is up to have a survey done, seems to me he should be asked nicely to move his cattle and if he doesnt want to the survey should wait.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks JLP -

 

We cannot wait to do surveys. They must be done in a year that has average or above average rainfall, which you do not know has occurred until shortly before the season starts. If we don't do them this year, it may be years until another "good" season occurs. The rancher does not hold a lease, he is the previous landowner (or current, where the land is optioned) and is under contract to recieve significantly greater than market value for his land. The lands are being grazed still as a courtesy to this rancher and because it would not be good for certain wildlife species if grazing were removed for the entire period between when the land went into negotiations and the project will be built.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Big hint-- go in there with your head hung low, respecting his rights and beg for help. He won;'t be impressed with your problems, in fact he;d probably like to cause you more problems to delay or stop the development. We tend to get pushed around alot and when we do get the upper hand we like to have some fun with it(little bit of generalized payback).

 

Moving that type of cattle in that type of area is not an easy thing. You have the actual moving and then where do you move them to and loosing the grazing(possibly having to supplement) and having the cattle more concentrated causing more damage somewhere else. Its a pain in his neck and why should he want to do it?

 

If he has a lease on the place(and hes not breaking any of the rules) he doesn't have to cooperate.

Hes probably upped the stocking rate to get as much as he can off the lease before it runs out. If there wasn't an animal units/acre set in the lease he has that right. He figures if its going to be developed who cares about over grazing.

 

If he can't be bought out (to cooperate) you have a problem.

As far as the cattle, if he won't cooperate- could you get a knowledgeable escort.?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This seems to be more a real estate law issue than anything else. You stated he's either the former owner , which means he's got a contract that states when ownership of the land is tranferred to the new owner. The optioned land is still legally his to do with as he wishes. The option is only for the seller to be first to buy the other property, unless something else was speelled out in the contract. Until the sold land goes through closing it's still the original owners to do with as he wishes. Unless of course the sales agreement states a different date to pull the cattle off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is great advice, Howdyjabo. This is kind of what I was expecting too:

 

He won;'t be impressed with your problems, in fact he;d probably like to cause you more problems... We tend to get pushed around alot and when we do get the upper hand we like to have some fun with it(little bit of generalized payback).

 

It's too bad that he couldn't be given more notice this might happen before he got them on there, which is what I wish would have happened (and would have facilitated if I'd personally had any ability to or foreknowledge of when and how much he was going to up seasonal stocking).

 

I know he won't want to get all the cattle off (which is what the biology team really wants), but was kind of looking for some sort of estimate as to whether that was even remotely possible given the time frame/acreage/number of cattle involved. Reducing the stocking rate and getting the rodeo bulls off (or at least corralling them in an avoided area on-site) would go a long way towards helping the issue, but I personally don't know how much more difficult/time consuming it is to get 800 head moved than 400.

 

Thanks so much, and would love to hear any additional input others might have. The more I know, the better I think it'll go for all parties.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This seems to be more a real estate law issue than anything else. You stated he's either the former owner , which means he's got a contract that states when ownership of the land is tranferred to the new owner. The optioned land is still legally his to do with as he wishes. The option is only for the seller to be first to buy the other property, unless something else was speelled out in the contract. Until the sold land goes through closing it's still the original owners to do with as he wishes. Unless of course the sales agreement states a different date to pull the cattle off.

 

Thanks Toney -

 

The developer owns some parcels already but not all - I don't know all the details but some are probably being negotiated at higher prices. To help you understand a bit better, when they first started optioning land, people in the area were somewhat resistant. But then when they found out the deal this rancher was getting, people whose land wasn't optioned and wasn't suitable for the project got really bitter they could not get in on the deal - it is that good. The developer could strong-arm to some degree, but that would not be the preferred solution for anyone. They could decide to drop other parcels they were going to buy from him, or make him get off their land completely forever, but really neither party wants to see it go in that direction. He will continue to own a lot of land in the area and it is in everybody's best interest to stay on good terms if possible.

 

For me, this really isn't about who has the rights to do whatever they want. This rancher knew all along that in this interim period surveys would be taking place and certain concessions would be asked of him, and the developer knew all along that that he would be grazing and they wanted that to continue. I am just trying to make sure the surveys -- which will occur now no matter what and are extremely expensive to do-- can be successful and people stay reasonably safe. As far as I'm concerned, the better I understand the logistics, the better I can argue for some sort of compromise if removing all isn't an option, and can help the biologists/developer see why a certain limit may be all we can really ask at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing with rodeo stock and actually bulls, but I'm a chicken shit when it comes to bulls, I would not want to be out with them without the owner being out there with me. And that might just be the solution, have your superiors request that the rancher be on site when your crew is working due to some of the employees feeling uncomfortable with the livestock. If he feels that his stock is a threat I suspect that he will offer to move them out of the area you are working and into a different part of the grazing area or to a completely different location. I doubt that he would want the liability involved with having you guys out there and getting injured.

 

Deb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Debbie - that's a great idea. When I first brought up last week that the site was now too heavily stocked, you could tell the developer was like, well, how big of a deal is that really?? Then when I brought up the issue that there may be bulls on-site, and they knew I'd been out there alone recently, you could see them goggle at my baby bump and go, "oh, sh*t." Then things kicked into gear, and they found out he breeds rodeo bulls. Being from "not around them parts", they are now really feeling they are in the wild west!! :rolleyes:

 

Like I said, he knew people would be doing surveys, although he didn't know all the details (we are also currently surveying for lots of different wildlife, wetlands, archaeologists and engineers have been out there, etc.). So I am a bit confused as to why he put the bulls back on these lands anyway even without knowing about the plant surveys specifically, and wonder if he simply hasn't considered liability. The developer certainly will!

 

These plant surveys will be taking place every day for up to 6 weeks with multiple teams. So it would be a LOT of effort for him to escort us. Maybe if we insist on that, he will decide it is easier to move things around a bit.

 

I also am nervous around bulls in general, and hate doing surveys around them, although I've always been able to steer clear of any bad problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No problemo...but I have to admit, rodeo bred cows with new born calves scare me even more then bulls... :rolleyes: Seen some real innovative ways to tag and vaccinate while trying to be safe from the cow, next time you see the rancher take note as to how many dents are in his pickup....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to thank everyone for their great advice. I had the conversation and it went very well; I was humble and thankful and we came up with a compromise that will work for everyone that will involve keeping them all off for a shorter period, then bringing 150-200 (non-bull) head only back on. Which is awesome. He's even fixing fences to keep them completely out of some areas. I was thrilled with the result and really appreciated his willingness to work with us.

 

The cattle are also used for calf roping and are just generally really used to people. But he swears the steers and young cows that come back won't be people aggressive, just curious. When I described them challenging my truck, he said it was because he breeds them to "have some brains left in them". :D I definitely appreciate that, and they certainly weren't scary to me on the ground (just dismissive when I tried to move them away from a gate, which is why I used Odin). He also gave me instructions on what to do if a stray bull gets back in, but I let him know MOSTLY we will be calling him to come get it after safely leaving that area.

 

Debbie, I'm meeting him next week to go over stuff and I'll definitely be looking at his truck!! :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello all, 800 hd on 4500 acres isn't a big stocking rate, when you consider that they're only there for a short period of time. Usually December through May, June at the latest in country that only gets 5 inches of rain.

 

The rancher is 'cheapening back' his cattle by taking advantage of grass when it comes. You start putting out your cattle a few hundred at a time when the rains and grass start. Then you begin sorting and shipping the heavy end and get everything off the instant they start backing up, losing weight.

 

In some places the cattle can do between 2 and 3 pounds a day, and it takes a lot of money to put on that kind of weight with hay or grain. Grass is much cheaper and healthier for the cattle. The last thing you would want to do is move them off and back on again, because that will cost you in lost weight. Since he has a deal on the land that he doesn't want to compromise, he's willing, and it's working out for everyone. I'm glad it did.

 

This is a great example of the age old problem between ranchers and the rest of the world. You see "rodeo bulls" and obstacles to a development survey. I see breeding season, the economics of ranching, and another pasture lost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Amelia,

 

Thank you for your response - it is really helpful to learn about how these things work, and your message was very informative.

 

Actually, the way it has worked out is IS a high stocking rate for this area, I think because it is on very poor fertility alkaline soils. I'm not saying it's abusively high, and I see how that works with the cattle, but it is too high if you need to assess the vegetation. This high stocking rate has totally denuded many areas on-site (I mean, literally not a blade for 50 acres), and the canopy height is still under an inch when it is at least 3-6 inches in all the neighboring properties, most of which are also grazed! Additionally, the site is mostly non-native grasses with relatively low diversity of other plants, many of these weedy species, while off-site in similar soils there is better diversity, more natives, and more native bunchgrasses (although this is also influenced by prior discing several decades ago).

 

As someone who has been involved with grazing intended to manage natural resources, not make profit directly (but the beef is subsidized by the monies used for natural resource management and the ranchers usually do quite well), it is in my opinion grazed more heavily than is really good for the land. BUT, at the same time, like I said, it's not abusive, and actually some wildlife species present on-site prefer habitat that is like this - not necessarily the denuded areas but the really low canopy.

 

Don't think of it as a pasture lost - actually, once the development is built, the vast majority of the site will still be grazed for resource management, only now with sheep - it is not a housing complex, but an alternative energy site.

 

I was out on site today and most of the cattle have been taken off already. In fact following people's advice here I am happy to say he and I get along quite well. I was really thankful to get any advice here I could, because I don't know the logistical issues involved in moving that many head, and am always wanting to learn from people who do depend on livestock. BTW, HE calls them rodeo bulls, so if there is a better term I don't know it.

 

I do kind of get from your reply and some of the replies I received that some might think *I* am anti grazing, or I think that grazing is unimportant, or something - nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a huge advocate of open range ranching and the use of livestock to manage AND allowing multiple uses so there is even MORE incentive to preserve natural areas. I want to HELP ranchers hang onto their ability to use these lands in a changing world, while I do my job as a biologist. Indeed, I wish I had been allowed to talk with him before he ever brought them on this year to save their weight, and his trouble, effort, and expense, but that was out of my control. While I personally wouldn't choose to graze the site as heavily if it were mine (man, I wish!), I don't have any problem with his normal rotation schedule and just had to solve a few logistical problems of my own - plants not identifiable if grazed off to nubs (and plants need to be identifiable or there's no reason to sell in the first place), and people in the field having to do the surveys would simply not be safe with the bulls in.

 

You see see breeding season, the economics of ranching, and another pasture lost, but it's not that I see "rodeo bulls" and obstacles to a development survey. I see an ecosystem that has not evolved to cope with cattle grazing at these intensities. But I also see an ecosystem that, now, after all that's happened, would be worse off with no cattle grazing at all.

 

--Kelly

 

Hello all, 800 hd on 4500 acres isn't a big stocking rate, when you consider that they're only there for a short period of time. Usually December through May, June at the latest in country that only gets 5 inches of rain.

 

The rancher is 'cheapening back' his cattle by taking advantage of grass when it comes. You start putting out your cattle a few hundred at a time when the rains and grass start. Then you begin sorting and shipping the heavy end and get everything off the instant they start backing up, losing weight.

 

In some places the cattle can do between 2 and 3 pounds a day, and it takes a lot of money to put on that kind of weight with hay or grain. Grass is much cheaper and healthier for the cattle. The last thing you would want to do is move them off and back on again, because that will cost you in lost weight. Since he has a deal on the land that he doesn't want to compromise, he's willing, and it's working out for everyone. I'm glad it did.

 

This is a great example of the age old problem between ranchers and the rest of the world. You see "rodeo bulls" and obstacles to a development survey. I see breeding season, the economics of ranching, and another pasture lost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...