Increasing Stocking Rates at Ucross Ranch
Posted on: Feb 16, 2014
In winning the Society for Range Management's Excellence in Rangeland Stewardship Award for 2014, Ucross Ranch was required to provide information on the numbers and classes of livestock it runs. Ucross's compelling story lies in how these numbers have changed through time.
The chart below shows this historic grazing harvest level as measured by animal days (versus animal unit months or AUMs). In 2002 when grazing management strategies were altered, the ranch harvested a total of 35,598 animal days (1187 AUMs) with cow/calf pairs, yearlings and sheep. As rangeland health improved and plant productivity increased, stocking rates could also be increased, resulting in a tripled harvest level in 2011 versus 2002 (the acreage involved stayed the same, so the overall ranch stocking rate increased). A dry year in 2012 resulted in a reduced stocking rate and harvest that year, and pastures were offered additional recovery opportunity in 2013, so harvest was reduced that year as well.
This harvest tripling was accomplished with no changes in operational cost structure. This means net operating income of the livestock operation was substantially higher, given the same operating costs. Ranch Advisory was proud to work with Ucross since 2002 in efforts to increase those stocking rates.
Additional news will follow describing the grazing management strategy.