Range Livestock Production in Southeastern Arizona

Research Year: 
2010
Issue: 

Range livestock production is a significant part of the economic base in southeastern Arizona, which includes Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Graham and Greenlee counties. Approximately 17 percent of the range beef cattle in the state are located in the four-county area (down from 24 in 2008) with a value in 2009 of $128,061,000, which is 50 percent less than the previous year (2009 Arizona Agricultural Statistics Bulletin). The rangelands where these livestock are raised are some of the most productive in the state. They not only support livestock grazing, but a variety of multiple uses. The intermingled ownership of federal, state and private lands creates a need to balance livestock grazing with natural resources. This is especially important as livestock producers have been managing herds in drought conditions for the last 13 years. Three rangeland/livestock focus groups were held for Cochise/Santa Cruz, Graham and Greenlee Counties in 2008. The groups consisted of agency personnel, extension agents, campus specialists, and ranchers who met to prioritize local needs for a three year period. Range monitoring, improvement in agency/rancher relations, Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) and livestock production issues were top priorities in all three meetings. Feedback on needs is also gathered at the end of workshops.

Description of Action: 

The range livestock program strategy supports research, education and extension efforts to improve understanding of animal reproduction, nutrition, genetics and physiology for improved efficiency, performance, health and well-being of animals. The program seeks to optimize resource use while delivering environmental benefits. Examples of activities include livestock nutrition workshops, rangeland monitoring, alternative energy for ranchers, grazing trials, estrous synchronization trials, marketing, investigating suspicious livestock losses, talks for small acreage landowners, and others.

During 2010 four educational workshops/trainings were conducted covering rangeland and livestock management topics in southeastern Arizona. The workshop topics and presentations were developed as team efforts with various agencies, university agents and specialists. Topics included Southeast Arizona Rancher Day, 57 participants.; Trich Testing and Body Condition Scoring Workshop, 23 participants; Safford US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Permittee meeting, 21 participants; and Range Livestock Nutrition School, 37 participants. As part of the Rangeland Monitoring & Inventory Program, 50 sites on 21 BLM allotments and 52 sites on 16 USFS allotments were monitored. Monitoring reports were prepared for each allotment and given to agencies and ranchers. Other monitoring was conducted on an additional three allotments. Program updates were provided to the Greenlee and Cochise-Graham Cattlegrowers' Associations at their annual meetings. Two major Coordinated Resource Management efforts continued on two ranches, facilitating interagency meetings and field inventory and monitoring.

Impact: 

The four workshops held in 2010 (mentioned above) averaged a rating of 4.6 (80 evaluations turned in). All workshop ratings are on a scale of 1 being not valuable to 5 being very valuable. Eighty-eight percent of participants were able to list two key concepts taught at the workshop. Seventy-four percent of participants listed at least one specific new management practice that they intend to implement in the next two years. Thirty-three percent of ranchers were actively engaged in the monitoring of their allotment.

Estrous synchronization trials included 310 cows and 55 heifers in 2010. For the cooperating herd with the majority of mature cows, over 80 percent were calving in a three-week period, resulting in a more uniform, marketable calf crop for the rancher. In addition, there was an economic impact of fewer “clean-up" bulls. By having more cows become pregnant at the beginning of the breeding season to artificial insemination, fewer bulls were needed to breed the cow herd, decreasing the producer’s cost per pregnancy. Carcass data analyzed to determine genetic improvements of marketed cattle (based on harvest data of steers), showed that cattle from the past year (majority sired by artificial insemination) improved percent choice by 15 to 37 percent. The Choice-Select spread (the premium paid for Choice grade) was $10.50/cwt on December 1, 2010. Based on a 700- pound carcass, this represents an additional $73.50 per head to the producer.

Conact Name: 
Dean Fish
Contact E-mail: