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Top Documentary Films: The Science Behind Cattle Ranches
A cattle ranch is a business and should be treated as such. Many who want to start raising cattle probably have had the romantic visions of cowboys riding the range and herding cattle all sunny day and would love to be ones to do that on their own ranch. If only they knew they could do that simply by visiting a dude ranch on their summer vacations! Sitting in the saddle watching or herding cows all day doesn't earn you much money either.
A ranch must be operated in a manner that best suits your production practices and will hopefully give you enough income to keep you going for years to come. The following should be considered essential in operating a cattle ranch:
Keep and maintain all your records. This ranges from calving to financial records. Software is available for these sort of records, though many ranchers still like to use the old pencil-and-paper method over the computer tablet.
Fix and maintain fences and buildings. Fences are more important and more often fixed than buildings. Pasture permanent perimeter fencing should be checked regularly, ideally before and after moving cattle from one pasture to another.
Fix and maintain machinery. All machinery involved in a ranching operation must be maintained and in good working order to be able to be used in the fields every year. Grease, oil, inspect, replace and repair any and all parts of machinery, from the tractor to the combine harvester.
Manage your grazing operation. A big part of a ranch is the space utilized for cattle to graze. Pastures and grass must be monitored in order for them to keep producing healthy stands season after season, year after year. Know your stocking rates, rest/recovery periods, grazing pressure and soil quality to determine how long your pastures and range can be grazed. Ideally, you should manage your grazing operation on your ranch so that you are improving and maintaining soil quality, water quality, and habitat for other wildlife that reside on your ranch.
Manage how you are feeding your cattle. There will be times when you cannot graze your cattle on pasture. This means you need to feed your cattle feedstuffs like hay and/or silage instead. Winter time or times of drought are particular times when feeding cattle is necessary, or any time when grazing cattle is no longer practical. You have a choice of feeding your cattle in a drylot, or adopting more sustainable and lower-cost practices of winter grazing them. Note though that the greatest source of financial loss is during winter and/or drought feeding, and is what makes or breaks the ranching business.
Manage your forage/grain enterprises. Not all ranches are the same. Some may just have hay and grazing enterprises, others may have hay, silage, crop, drylot and grazing enterprises. Whatever you choose to have or have already, manage them according to when to seed, fertilize, spray herbicide, cut and harvest.