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RANGE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

The largest demand on a cow is the production of milk to nourish a calf

Range Management:

 

Southeast Colorado is a fragile semiarid desert ecosystem able to provide a bountiful harvest if maintained carefully. Because of the semiarid nature of southeast Colorado, certain aspects of range management as they apply to our ranch require very hard cognizant choices.

Twenty to sixty acres can sustain a cow depending on the amount of winter supplementation, the annual precipitation and the frequency of grazing rotation. Good husbandry must allow mineral supplementation, as the alkaline soil is inadequate in many minerals. The current 2500 acres can sustain 40-125 cows depending on the intensity of management provided. By utilizing leased ground for winter forage and intensive rotational grazing, in 2007 100 cows are currently maintained on Peak View Ranch, Inc. property. Winter forage availability, as it reflects pasture quality also, must be carefully considered for its economic and environmental impact.

Because most winters produce limited snow cover, the range grass of southeast Colorado can sustain cows with varying degrees of supplementation. The more forage is managed and enhanced year-round, the more it offers better winter forage. The main limiting nutrients in winter forage are protein and energy. Small amounts of these supplemented can balance low quality winter forage. For this approach to succeed adequate forage must be available for cattle and range preservation.

 

Large scale grazing studies have shown that short intense intervals of grazing of 7-14 days, 4 times per year most benefited range in terms of grass quality and or availability. These rotations can occur even during winter months and drought. 

Early weaning can also be part of range management. Early weaning by definition requires separating calves from cows at 3-5 months instead of a more customary 7 months. The largest demand on a cow is the production of milk to nourish a calf. By shortening the period of time that a cow must perform this task the amount of body condition she carries can be increased by 1 whole score year round. It also reduces range pressure. Early weaning has economical advantages as well due to increased calf performance and increased carcass quality which offset the added costs associated with this practice.

Other range management practices have been implemented to protect the native grasses. The practice of poisoning prairie dogs to reduce range damage and soil erosion is employed as necessary. In addition, aerial spraying for cactus and weed control has been aggressively performed following our seven-year drought and will be continued as needed.

Breeding Cattle Selection:


Peak View Ranch, Inc. selects cattle on a balanced trait approach. Actual limits are set as well as EPD limits on a variety of traits. Acceptable limits and the pressure applied to each trait are determined by weighing each traits relevance to producing advantageous genetics for commercial beef operations. Specifically, criteria must ensure a product that will provide maternal genetics desired by cattle operations within the central and western United States that utilize forage based diets.

All heifer calves produced are given a chance to add genetics to the cowherd. It has been shown that the correlation between selection at weaning and actual performance of a brood cow is extremely low. Therefore, selection is not made at weaning. The replacement females must meet certain criteria; however, those females not meeting the criteria are identified as culls throughout the next twelve months. 

​The following are the selection criteria for acceptable females:

  • Born with minimum assistance (CE score of 2 or less)

  • Actual birth weight less than 95 lbs.

  • Birth EPD less than +2.0

  • Weaning weight greater than 450 lbs.

  • Weaning weight EPD greater than +5.0

  • Solid red color

  • Acceptable GTS (see GTS system for details)

  • Yearling Wt greater than 750 lbs.

  • Yearling frame score less than 6.0

  • Yearling weight EPD greater than +10.0

  • Conceives within a 60 day breeding period each year

  • Calves unassisted or with minimal assistance (less than 2.0 calving ease score) as a two –year old

  • Maintains acceptable body condition for the remainder of her life (BCS greater than 5.0)

  • Does not require hoof trimming

  • Does not require assistance at calving due to udder quality

  • Does not have disposition issues

  • Produces calves that conform to the same criteria, thus requiring careful analysis of lifetime production records so calf performance is monitored.

 

Depending on the genetics, phenotype and performance presently in the herd it is the objective burden of the management to know when to intensify or soften culling on one or more traits. This provides management the ability to strengthen the cowherd as a whole by making careful selective judgments based on long term or short-term goals. When selection criteria are adhered to too strictly and culling is too intense, the herd is diminished. On the other hand, when selection criteria are not closely adhered to, cowherd quality is sacrificed.

Peak View Ranch, Inc. also utilizes embryo transfer and AI to propagate and introduce advantageous genetics. Those females having produced at least 3 calves and excelling in the aforementioned criteria are eligible as embryo transfer donors. AI sires are carefully selected and must meet similar selection criteria discussed concerning females but applying to bulls.

In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • The bull must be seen by management

  • The bull’s dam must be seen by management

  • The bull and the bull’s dam must show genetic merit and consistency in their performance within the standards established by Peak View Ranch, Inc.

Peak View Ranch, Inc. also utilizes home raised sires. Only cows that most excel at the selection criteria are eligible to produce herd sires. Genetics analysis of these individual sires is accomplished through the American Shorthorn Association’s Whole Herd Reporting and Progeny Test Program.

The specific standards these sires must meet are:

  • Produced from a cow meeting minimum standards to be an ET donor but is not limited to an ET calf

  • Actual birth weight less than 95 lbs.

  • Birth EPD less than +2.0

  • Weaning weight greater than 550 lbs.

  • Weaning weight EPD greater than +5.0

  • Solid red color

  • Acceptable GTS (see GTS system for details)

  • Yearling Wt greater than 1000 lbs.

  • Yearling frame score less than 6.0

  • Yearling weight EPD greater than +10.0

  • Passes a BSE with a scrotal circumference greater than 34cm at 12 months of age

  • Produces calves within the Peak View Ranch, Inc. selection criteria for bulls, heifers and steers

  • Maintains a body condition score greater than 5.0

  • Does not require hoof trimming

  • Does not have disposition issues

Bull and female selection and the chosen parameters exist to strengthen those traits that optimize female performance as it relates to steer production and performance for the sole purpose of providing the highest quality products for human consumption. The specific parameters for trait selection will change dependant on management views, breed performance, herd performance and desired selection pressure on specific traits. These parameters should be reviewed annually.

Feedlot testing steers to measure performance and carcass characteristics can be another tool to assess the genetic attributes of the herd. If maternal trait selection can be associated with negative impacts on steer performance, then the selection criteria of Peak View Ranch, Inc. must be adjusted.


Herd Health:


The herd health plan and all herd health events are recorded and preserved in the herd books.


Conclusion:


This summary isn’t recorded to be unchallenged and recognizes the inevitable need for change over time. It is a record created at a point in time reflecting the view, goals and actions of those most entrusted with the stewardship of the operation in August of 2006.

composed by Rick Leone, Trish Leone, John Leone & Virginia Leone

Registered Shorthorn Cattle

 

The Leone Family

Rick, Trish, Gabri and Val

1050 County Road JJ

Fowler, CO 

719.263.4321

peakviewranch@hotmail.com

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