Southern Plains Pointers
What The Heck – Is – Going On Out There? (!)
This is the time of year that we need to know stuff, as opposed to assuming stuff, about how our herd is weathering the dog days of summer in the southern plains. The dynamics include ambient temperature, nutritional profile of the plant community and, of course, parasites. Late summer worming can help with a few things that are interconnected and directly affect the herds’ ability to remain sustainable.
Always question what you see this time of year. The examples of what you should be [willing] to question might include; grass/ fecal analyses / and body scores.
· You see grass – what type is it? What stage is it in? Are they eating it, or are they selecting other grass types that are more palatable and over grazing certain areas? What is the grass testing?
o You may, or may not, have grass…
· You wormed the herd/ the herd [is] wormed. – When? How do you know? What wormer was used? Do you rotate pastures according to parasite life cycles?
o Your herd may, or may not, be de-wormed… sorry.
· You had the vet do a fecal analysis and it showed [no / zero egg count] so you see a clean fecal report. – How did you prepare the samples? What kind of samples did you focus on? And in the case of clean or zero – it’s possible, but not likely.
o You may not have a good fecal analysis. Vets and labs are people too…
· The herd looks good/ fat. – Where [on their body] are they fat? Are the bull’s fat or the cows? Are they building condition, or is their condition [body score] waning?
o The herd may, or may not, actually look good within the context of the breeding season.
So – while it is true that summer is not the time to gather and work the herd, it is also true that there is a lot of mental work required of the human element – now elemental to health and productivity of the herd. Keep in mind that the herd being productive is bison conservations safest place. Personally, even though it’s more mental stress, I take time to look around and consider the [many factors] I might be missing to get them through in good shape, and bred. Nature is chaotic and for eons the bison evolved to be productive in times of plenty, and less productive in times or cycles of ecosystem hardship. These days the sedentary, by pre-Columbian comparison, habitats for bison, abound with factors that are invasive, non-native and in some cases toxic. Thankfully, the bison have a beneficial organism working on their behalf to smooth out the natural cycles of plenty vs. hardship called – The Bison Rancher…