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WILDFIRES & DISASTERS
  • FIRE DANGER: AFTER THE FIRE: AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

    These tips will help you establish a plan to help ensure effective pasture and cattle management as your land starts the recovery process.


     + Pasture Management
    Defer grazing until after the first growing season is complete (after first frost). This will: 

    • Maintain and improve plant vigor and productivity
    • Reestablish vegetation that reduce soil erosion 
    • Develop shelter and nesting habitat for birds
    • Allow for production to benefit wildlife 
    • Provide shelter for deer, reducing predation
    • Reduce the potential for toxic plant consumption by cattle

    Grazing too soon after the fire can slow these processes and delay the time needed for full recovery. Defer any grazing until after mid-July if it is necessary to graze during the first growing season. 

    Other tips:

     

    • Loss of cross-fencing alters your ability to adequately manage forage resources with selective livestock grazing of certain pasture units. This alone should reduce any temptation to restock as the pastures undergo green-up and recovery. 
    • Base the number of cattle on the amount of forage available. Do not plan to return to customary stocking rates for two growing seasons. Recovery may be more rapid than this, but plan conservatively. 
    • Use a grazing system that postpones using the burned area, if unburned pasture remains. 
    • Minimize impacts of overgrazing on unburned areas.
    • Realize that broad-leaved plants (forbs or weeds) have a place. These plants provide food and protect soil and wildlife. Avoid the temptation to spray them. 
    • Hold off on brush control. Post-fire is a good time to treat prickly pear, but defer decisions on other brush species. Be sure to observe treatment timing and recommendations for herbicide treatment within Houston toad habitat.

     

     

     + Cattle Management
    Evaluate all decisions to cull, or feed and maintain cattle, within the framework of the required rangeland recovery time. At least four months, ideally seven months, will be needed before the burned range can be partially restocked. 

     

    • Cull cattle based on age, productivity and cost of maintaining productivity. 
    • Maintain adequate nutrition to support milk production and reproduction. 
    • Spring calving cows are at the stage when nutrient requirements are greatest. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to excessive condition loss and delayed conception or failure to conceive. 
    • Poor quality roughage and hays will require supplemental protein and energy. 
    • Overstocking unburned areas can reduce cattle performance and increase supplemental feed requirements. 
    • Incorporate labor, replacement of fencing/equipment and equipment costs into all evaluations of feeding programs. 
    • Continue to evaluate cattle for latent effects of the fire—foot problems, respiratory problems. 
    • Evaluate calves for signs of inadequate milk consumption. 
    • Evaluate early weaning as an option to reduce feed requirements of cows. 
    • Cull cows with fire damage before they completely lose value.

      

     + Fencing and Facilities
    Be aware of opportunities to change fencing layouts and types with the following in mind: 

     

    • Evaluate fence line layout for improved grazing management, livestock movement and wildlife benefits. Don’t assume an old fence should go back in its original spot; this is a good opportunity to put them in optimal locations.

     

     

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