The idea of a confinement or semi-confinement cow-calf operation is growing in acceptance. That’s because, from several perspectives, it offers advantages to both the cattle and the cattle producer.
One of those advantages, according to Ryan Reuter, associate professor of range cattle nutrition at Oklahoma State University, is that ranchers can improve the health of their native range.
Speaking at the Kenneth and Caroline Eng McDonald Foundation Beef Symposium recently in Oklahoma City, Reuter prioritized three main management strategies: "We need to be prepared to protect our native range from overgrazing; we need to be planning to give late season rest to those native pastures; and we need be trying to incorporate prescribed fire and I think those are three key things we need to plan to do," Reuter told the Oklahoma Farm Report.
As livestock producers have dealt with five consecutive years of drought, it has been hard to rest rangeland when grass resources were limited. Also, with higher land values, Reuter said it's harder for producers to have another pasture to rotate cattle to. In order to rest pasture, cattlemen may be forced to lease additional land, sell cattle or put cattle in a confinement system. Reuter said this allows producers to move cattle off the pasture, while still having them remain productive.
Click here to read and listen to Reuter’s thoughts on semi-confinement systems.