Three-day grazing school to address increased challenges in beef production
By Robert Burns, Texas A&M
Feb 13, 2010
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Research-based strategies for drought, flood, recession included 

OVERTON -- Too little rain, too much rain, high fertilizer prices and a volatile cattle market – both inexperienced and the veteran beef producers will learn strategies to deal with all these scenarios at the Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop set March 30 - April 1, said a Texas AgriLife Research scientist.

"We can’t change the weather; we can’t change cattle prices,” said Dr. Monte Rouquette, AgriLife Research scientist and one of the course instructors. “But we can teach management strategies to help producers deal with these issues.”

The grazing school is now accepting enrollment, (no comma)for the workshop, which will be held at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton. Center facilities include classrooms and hundreds of acres of research pastures with ongoing cow-calf and stocker studies.

The 2010 course will be the 10th year the grazing school courses have been held at Overton. In the past, attendance has not been limited to Texas, also drawning students from Alaska, California, Arizona and foreign countries.

“This year, for the first time, we’re including a wildlife segment,” Rouquette said. “Dr. Billy Higginbotham will talk about a variety of wildlife issues: pond management, white-tailed deer and feral hogs.”

The instructors are scientists and educators with AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University. Seven of the instructors are full professors and four are Texas A&M Regents Fellows. Most come from agricultural backgrounds and several have weekend cow/calf operations.

Disciplines represented by the instructors include forage management, forage fertility, animal nutrition, small-grain and ryegrass management, soil fertility and chemistry, animal breeding and genetics, fisheries and wildlife, agricultural economics and entrepreneurship, and agricultural engineering.

Enrollment for the three-day course is $350 and includes all meals, coffee breaks, refreshments, a workshop handbook and individual access to all the instructors. Students will earn three continuing education units in the general category toward their Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator’s licenses.

"Because the course includes quite a bit of one-on-one interaction with the instructors, we limit enrollment to 50 people per session," Rouquette said.

Instruction will be divided among the classroom, the field and hands-on activities, Rouquette said. In-field demonstrations will cover all aspects of running a beef operation, from establishing and maintaining high-quality forages to calibrating sprayers, taking soil samples, castrating and vaccinating cattle, and dehorning calves.

Also included will be training on writing a business plan for a ranch, keeping proper records, choosing the appropriate forage species for different soils, understanding soil fertility, establishing forage systems that minimize winter feeding costs, setting correct stocking rates, choosing the right cattle breeds, promoting good animal health, marketing cattle and the use of remote sensing cameras in wildlife management, according to Rouquette.

The course was originally intended for those just beginning a beef cattle operation, but the comprehensive nature of the course attracted those with more experience in the business, he said.

"Usually, about 25 percent of the enrollment consists of people who are absolutely new to ranching and pasture management, 50 percent who have some knowledge and 25 percent who have extensive experience," Rouquette said.

A full agenda can be found at .

To register or for more information, contact Jennifer Lloyd at 903-834-6191 or

Lloyd will have information on class openings, local accommodations and driving directions to the center, Rouquette said.