February in the south can be hard to set your planning calendar by. We can have lots of moisture cycle extremes and the best plan is to be ready for anything. Much of the drought-stricken areas have experienced relief, while some are still waiting. This reality can make it hard to know how to plan your AU’s (Animal Units) for the habitat/ farm/ ranch. Personally, I suggest to folks that you plan for what you have, intentionally under-stock, and keep track of that balance. The equation that will serve you well is; (Land first) /( bison second)/ and the ole biz-model (or you) last = (you first) every time!
AU capacity of the land will vary according to the region, the plant community, and the moisture. The important thing to understand is that an AU = 1,000 pounds of grazer on the land. This means that the number of bison on the property does not represent the (demand) of the pounds of dry-matter produced by it. It can be more, or it can be less than your headcount depending on what they weigh. This is the best argument for a bison chute with scales so that you can more accurately ascertain the AU’s on the land.
Calving season is just around the corner and it is this time of year that I start preaching a ‘calf-kit’ in your toolbox (before) you have any unintentional orphans. They are rare, but they happen and the clock is ticking on those little guys, while you wait for the store to open, or order in what you need.
As old man winter wanes and gives way to a full green-up that can happen down here as soon as mid-March, we need to be ‘at-the-ready’ to rush to arms against our number one herd health antagonist – internal parasites. April showers bring May flowers, but guess what? – It also brings a wet/warm transmission vehicle for Trichostrongyle populations that threaten your herd. More on that next month…