Beef producers considering restocking their herds should do slow slowly, allowing time for pastures to recover from the drought and effectively choose cattle that are a right fit for their operation, says at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
At the Brazos Valley Beef and Forage Expo and E.D. "Doug" Davidson Hay Testing program held recently at the Brazos County Expo Center in Bryan, a number of authorities discussed topics to interest to area ranchers.
Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in College Station, said producers need to choose replacement heifers and cattle that are best adapted to their environment.
"You also need to find cattle that you can breed to the right bull, producing the calf quality and traits that you need," he said. "Appropriate frame size is another thing to consider. We tend to get cattle that are big. When we go back in and restock, get some cattle that are more moderately framed perhaps so (ranchers) can run more of them on a given piece of land and produce more calves. Your total pounds produced per acre, normally goes up when you have smaller cows on an operation. If you look at total pounds produced, that's the business were are in; selling pounds and getting more pounds per acre."
Gill said some cattle shipped out of state last year during the Texas drought may need to come back to the Lone Star State as drought has ravaged the Midwest and parts of the southeastern U.S. He said there may be potential to pick up some cattle at bargain prices for these types of cattle, but overall he urged producers to ease back into restocking and also be mindful of good biosecurity practices."
"Biosecurity is a huge component of this restocking deal," he said. "It's also another reason to ease back into it."
Gill especially advised producers to be aware of trichomoniasis or "trich," a sexually transmitted disease that can cause female cattle to abort.
"If you are buying bred females in the last two-thirds of gestation, trich is normally not an issue," he says. "If you are buying open cows or short-bred cows, trich is something you should be concerned about because they can abort."