R E S T R I C T E D B R E E D I N G A N D R O T A T I O N A L G R A Z I N G

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1 R E S T R I C T E D B R E E D I N G A N D R O T A T I O N A L G R A Z I N G J O R G E L U I S S A N C H E Z B R I C E Ñ O H E R M O S I L L O S O N O R A M E X I C O

2 The problem that is always faced in the extensive way of producing beef in the arid or semiarid lands of Sonora, Mexico is the variability in forage available through the year due to the lack of rain and its concentration in 3 months of the year (July-August) although sometimes we recibe 1/2 to 3 inches in December - January. The livestock producer does not have a breeding season beyond that induced by Summer rains with the problems that produce to have calvings spread during the whole year ( very low calving rate,a long calving interval, cows and calves mortalities, low weaning weight, high cost of supplementation, cattle stay more time in a degraded land when you want to sustain them with the use of subsidizing supplements causing more damage to the vegetation and soil). Moreover it is very difficult to use the best management practices available in animal husbandry and range management.

3 The state of Sonora in Mexico has an average of around 380 mm of precipitation yearly. Sonora have around hectareas considered non agricultural land but used mostly for about cows with an average of 60% calving rate and an average of 160kgs at weaning weight at 8 months of age.

4 P R O D U C T I O N S Y S T E M Since 1982 we have been implementing a production system that allow to care for the areas that are under grazing and at the same time improve the livelihood of the people that depend on cattle. This system or plan for managing ranches depend on the commitment for having a restricted breeding season and to build at least 10 paddocks. There is a restriction in breeding because we have plenty of good quality forage only during the rainy season and for the rest of the year there is a strong use of supplements mainly if the rains were below average. The problem with having cows calving through the year aggravate the situation due to high requirements during lactation plus a bad corporal condition (<4).

5 With the use of a breeding season restricted to 3 months (September-November) the management is easier because all the cows have the same date to start breeding and calving. Pregnancy diagnosis is made in January and from there on we change pastures (paddocks) every month or every 15 days depending of the number of paddock, size and food available for cows that only have maintenance requirements (calving start in June, weaning is around 4-5 months of age but if rains are above normal we wean at 6-7 months).

6 Under this management it is easy to implement any of the best practices. There is a rotation of the paddocks during the rainy season (we are looking for having six months in our best paddocks and then six months that are distributed in a way that the last trimester of gestation being in the more than regular paddocks). In the ranch where we take the photos, the number of cows is 350, there are 10. bulls and 50 heifers. Cows start calving in June. The total number of hectareas is and we have now 12 paddocks but only the best ones with about has. those are 6. In this particular unit we are building more grazing units because we have around 600 has without any use at all. It is like having under grazing, with the best pastures grazed during breeding. It is easy to comprehend now that with this management we are having more cows, pastures are in better condition ( the rest period is for 10 to 11 month), we use minerals only as a supplement (but there is an indication of supplementing 1 kg of protein and energy 15 days before and 15 days after calving).

7 Labor is more efficient because calving is restricted to mostly 2 1/2 months, it is possible to synchronize the cows (all of them) one week before breeding season start and AI the cows; heifers calves and first calf heifers are separated from adults. If you want to have an early weaning there is no problem because there is no a big difference in age. The paddocks even that are under rotation, we look for differences in vegetation, soils and health in general in order to change the time that are used.

8 T H I S G R O U P O F C O W S D U E T O C A L V E I N J U N E A N D A R E T H E O N L Y O N E S L E F T F R O M T H E M A I N G R O U P T H A T A R E B E I N G M O V E D T O A N O T H E R P A D D O C K.

9 S A M E G R O U P

10 S A M E G R O U P. W E L O O K F O R T H E B E S T P O S S I B L E C O D I T I O N I N O U R C O W S A F T E R B R E E D I N G B E C A U S E I T I S T H E B E S T W A Y T O C O N S E R V E I T D U R I N G P R E G N A N C Y A N D A L R E A D Y W E A N E D.

11 C O W S ( 3 0 ) F R O M F I R S T P H O T O S S T I L L H E R E ( A R E B E I N G M O V E D ) I N T H I S P A D D O C K W E R E T H E P R E G N A N T C O W S F O R T H E L A S T 4 5 D A Y S ( A P R I L - M A Y )

12 N E W P A D D O C K ( L A S T 2 M O N T H S I N P R E G N A N C Y ) T H I S A R E A H A S N O T B E E N G R A Z E D S I N C E L A S T S E P T E M B E R ( C O W S M A I N T A I N I N G C O N D I T I O N B E F O R E C A L V I N G )

13 B R O W S I N G A N D G R A Z I N G T H I S I S F O R A G E F R O M L A S T R A I N Y S E A S O N U S E D O N L Y B E F O R E C A L V I N G

14 S A M E P A D D O C K F O R P R E G N A N T C O W S I N T H I S P A D D O C K W E C O U L D U S E S U P P L E M E N T S I F N E E D E D 1 5 D A Y S B E F O R E A N D A F T E R C A L V I N G J U S T F O R H E L P I N G O V A R I A N A C T I V I T Y F O R N E X T B R E E D I N G.

15 P R E G N A N T C O W S I N N E W P A D D O C K S I N C E M A Y 1 9 C O W S D U E T O C A L F F R O M J U N E T R O U G H A U G U S T R E C I V I N G O N L Y M I N E R A L S

16 C O W S I N B O D Y C O N D I T I O N O F 5 + C O W S F R O M T H E S A M E G R O U P I N T H E W A T E R T R O U G H

17 H E I F E R C A L V E S W E A N E D, H E I F E R T O B E B R E D I N O C T U B E R A N D F I R S T C A L F H E I F E R S T H A T G O I N G T O T H E I R S E C O N D B R E E D I N G T H I S G R O U P O F H E I F E R S I S S E P A R A T E D F R O M T H E M A I N H E R D U N T I L T H E Y A R E B R E D F O R T H E I R S E C O N D C A L F.

18 H E I F E R S

19 S U M M A R Y In the units where this kind of management is used, the first thing that you notice is efficiency in labor, any new practice that you want to apply is easily done (Heath and synchronization, AI, breeding soundness evaluation in bulls before and after breeding season, strategic supplementation, pregnancy diagnosis, early weaning, change the season of paddocks grazing for wathever the reason) Everything is possible because we only have three groups (adult cows, heifers and bulls). As somebody said, is like managing one cow. With the cows that calve in the last month, we practice a kind of controlled lactation (calves remain in corral with especial supplement and the cows early in the morning stay with them for about one hour a day); this improve the calving rate for those late calvers.

20 The nex favorable thing observed is that carrying capacity is increased (almost doubling it). Health in the paddocks or condition or wathever is called is improved because you have a large resting period por each of them. It is true that the paddocks without grazing during the rainy season have only dry grasses in store (but we have browsing) however,it is the kind of food needed for pregnant cows. The season when you have the minimum feeding requirements is when you are in winter, spring and part of summer when we don't have growth in the paddocks but we have good browsing (mesquite, iron wood etc,) and our cows also have very low requirements because they are in their 4 month of pregnancy.

21 This is the kind of management that we been doing since 1982 and we are confidants that it is a very good management when you match animal requirements and food production. In some other ranches we have paddocks with buffel grass and everything is much better because you use this grass for six months (when green, we start grazing 15 days after the first good rain) in paddocks smaller in size where cattle return to the first one in 25 to 35 days. Bulls enter in September also. The total cow herd st ay around 3-4 days in each paddock. During this time the paddocks with natural vegetation are without grazing. This management with buffel grass allow us to increase even more the carrying capacity.. The rest that recibe the paddocks with natural vegetation during the entire rainy season is beneficial in terms of cover, wildlife,self seeding of grasses and it is pretty good in terms of resilience.

22 When the producers does not have a good management all he gets is low calving rate, low weaning weight, high production costs, mortalities and when the price of the steer is good and they want to have more animals; the bad management is highlighted (higher use of supplements, more land degradation, calving rate without increasing). There is nothing worst that having thin cows calving far from the best season and with only dry forages for improvement in condition for lactation and rebreeding.

23 Thanks for the opportunity to tell you about our practice and Im going to be looking forward to answer questions that you could have about it.

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