Oklahoma Farm Report masthead graphic with wheat on the left and cattle on the right.
Howdy Neighbors!
Ron Hays, Director of Farm and Ranch Programming, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network  |  2401 Exchange Ave, Suite F, Oklahoma City, Ok 73108  |  (405) 601-9211


Beef Buzz News

History Can Teach Southern Plains Ranchers Valuable Lessons, Jay O'Brien Says

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:56:18 CDT

History Can Teach Southern Plains Ranchers Valuable Lessons, Jay O'Brien Says
Texas rancher Jay O’Brien says he’s not really so much a rancher as a farmer. His spread in the Texas Panhandle doesn’t so much produce beef as it produces grass. That may not seem like an important distinction, but he says it makes all the difference in how the land is cared for and how ranches can be profitable in good times and in bad.

O’Brien recently spoke at a “Surviving the Elements” symposium sponsored by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The series of symposia takes a look at land and water issues facing residents of the Western United States. Week one of the series looked at history to determine what could be learned from earlier times.

O’Brien, tells Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays history has a lot to teach us-if we will let it. (You can hear their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)

“There is so much to learn from history, but, unfortunately, humans are not good at learning from history. We all like to be optimists. We all like to think that everything is going to be OK. And, sometimes, we reach out a little far in our optimism and assume things that aren’t necessarily true.”

In his presentation, O’Brien says understanding the true importance of natural resources is key.

“As ranchers, we only have one real asset and that’s the grass. And so we have to take care of that grass so that we can produce this high quality product, this beef, from this renewable resource of grass. And, if we don’t take care of it, we won’t be able to do as good of a job of producing beef.”

O’Brien reviewed a great deal of the literature and the studies conducted over several decades to learn what they have to say about preserving that foundational renewable resource. The results he found were startling.

“What they show is there is no advantage to plant health, no advantage to stocking capacity, of rotational grazing systems as opposed to continuous grazing. The secret is to know the capacity of your land and not exceed it. So, these people that come in and promise that you increase the grazing capacity by 50 percent, they’re doing you a real disservice because there is no way, other than irrigation, there is no way to increase that grazing capacity and still take care of the land.”

O’Brien says that not only do the rotational grazing schemes cost more in terms of damage to the land, they also cost more in terms of capital and labor.

“I’m not saying don’t rotate, because there are reasons to lay out pastures, there are reasons to do things like that. I’m saying don’t think the system is going to give you something that the land cannot give.”

What the land is able to give is finite and, in times of drought, it can give even less. But, O’Brien says, ranchers across the Southern Plains should know by now to take it in stride.

“This is not unexpected. Drought is a guarantee at some point. We had droughts in the 1890s. We had droughts in the 30s. We had drought in the 50s. We’re just hopefully ending a drought here, but we don’t know that for sure. But, so, drought is a fact of life and we need to manage so that during the drought we can destock and continue to care for the land.”

O’Brien says he handles the drought by only using about half his land for his cow herd. When times are good and rains are plentiful, he adds stockers to his operation. When drought comes, he destocks and preserves his cow herd. As the drought ends, he slowly adds stockers as the land recovers.

What it amounts to, O’Brien says, is that the condition of the land dictates how much beef he can produce. In reality, he says, he is not so much a beef producer as he is a producer of forage.

“What we’re doing is taking the renewable resource, which is grass, and turning it into the highest-quality protein available-beef which has the amino acids, the iron, the zinc and the protein in its tastiest form. And, so, we’re converting this renewable resource to beef and that’s the best use for the grass.”



Ron Hays talks with rancher Jay O'Brien about surviving and thriving with drought.
right-click to download mp3


WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI


Beef News

  • South Dakota Rancher Todd Wilkinson Tells EPW, Cattlemen Part of the Solution to Climate Change  Tue, 22 Oct 2019 07:53:15 CDT
  • Rabo Analyst Don Close Predicts Grow Yard Concept Will Become Essential to the Beef Pipeline System  Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:56:03 CDT
  • OSU's Janeen Salak-Johnson Tells Cattle Producers Being Open to Doing Things Differently Can Save an Industry  Fri, 18 Oct 2019 15:02:09 CDT
  • OSU's Janeen Salak-Johnson Warns Beef Producers of the Coming Scrutiny from Animal Welfare Activists  Thu, 17 Oct 2019 05:56:09 CDT
  • Letting the Markets Do What They Do - Economist Glynn Tonsor Explains All  Wed, 16 Oct 2019 07:45:29 CDT
  • NCBA’s Season Solario Explains How the Checkoff is Working to Head Consumers Off at the Pass, Digitally Speaking  Tue, 15 Oct 2019 09:31:40 CDT
  • NCBA’s Season Solario Unveils the Magic Behind the Success of the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner Brand  Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:26:18 CDT
  • Changes in the Dynamics of Global Beef Trade Evident in Latest Export Numbers Out from USMEF  Thu, 10 Oct 2019 13:42:22 CDT
  • Markets Well Down the Road to Recovery as Heat from the Tyson Fire Cools Down  Wed, 09 Oct 2019 05:54:36 CDT
  • With a Trade Deal in the Bag, NCBA’s Kent Bacus Says Nothing Stands in the Way of US Beef’s Domination in Japan  Tue, 08 Oct 2019 20:05:48 CDT
  • The Numbers Don’t Lie - K-State Economist Glynn Tonsor Says No Beef Demand Bump from COOL  Mon, 07 Oct 2019 08:20:15 CDT
  • Better Times Ahead for Cow/Calf Producers Says LMIC Senior Economist Jim Robb  Fri, 04 Oct 2019 07:00:38 CDT
  • Market Watcher Jim Robb Suggests Aggressive Female Slaughter Activity May Set Stage for Higher Fed Prices  Thu, 03 Oct 2019 08:00:20 CDT
  • LMA’s Chelsea Good Shares Her Thoughts on Today's Hot Button Issues in the Animal Ag Industry  Wed, 02 Oct 2019 09:26:24 CDT
  • Livestock Marketing Association’s Chelsea Good Working with Industry Partners to Address Post-Fire Market Concerns  Tue, 01 Oct 2019 06:28:51 CDT
  • okPORK's Roy Lee Lindsey Exposes the Hypocrisy of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling  Mon, 30 Sep 2019 18:14:34 CDT
  • NCBA’s Colin Woodall Pushes Back on OCM’s False, Inflammatory Claims Regarding Checkoff Funding  Mon, 30 Sep 2019 11:50:44 CDT
  • King Ranch Institute's Dr. Clay Mathis Talks Technology on the Ranch, and How to Make Money Using It  Fri, 27 Sep 2019 14:29:24 CDT
  • King Ranch Institute's Dr. Clay Mathis Talks Technology on the Ranch, and How to Make Money Using It  Fri, 27 Sep 2019 10:36:39 CDT
  • Trump Strikes Deal with Japan - NCBA Lobbyist Colin Woodall Affirms It's Just What Cattlemen Wanted  Thu, 26 Sep 2019 10:25:22 CDT
  • Grow Yard Concept Finding Its Footing in Beef Industry - Analyst Don Close Says Opportunity Abounds  Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:30:21 CDT
  • K-State's Glynn Tonsor Says Struggling Cattle Markets Propped Up By Robust Domestic Beef Demand  Mon, 23 Sep 2019 11:53:00 CDT
  • Burger King Reports Increased Sales of Conventional Beef Burgers Alongside Climbing Impossible Burger Sales  Fri, 20 Sep 2019 10:34:32 CDT
  • USMEF's Dan Halstrom on What Japan's Meat Trade Really Wants from the US Beef Cattle Industry  Thu, 19 Sep 2019 10:11:34 CDT
  • Formal Agreement with Japan Announced by White House Could Help Grow Island's Taste for Tongue  Wed, 18 Sep 2019 11:05:20 CDT
  • OSU's Janeen Salak-Johnson on Killing the Sacred Cows of the Beef Business, How Being Open to Doing Things Differently Can Save an Industry  Tue, 17 Sep 2019 10:34:24 CDT
  • OSU's Janeen Salak-Johnson Warns Beef Producers of the Coming Scrutiny from Animal Welfare Activists  Mon, 16 Sep 2019 11:07:53 CDT
  • Repeal of WOTUS Strikes Emotional Chord with OCA's Michael Kelsey, Reflecting on Action's Significance  Fri, 13 Sep 2019 11:36:52 CDT
  • American Angus Assoc. CEO Mark McCully Reflects on the Angus Breed's Role the Beef Industry Today  Thu, 12 Sep 2019 11:49:28 CDT
  • Fall Looking Like a Mixed Bag for Beef - Peel Advises Producers Pay Close Attention to Market Dynamics  Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:06:31 CDT
  • Fall Looking Like a Mixed Bag for Beef - Peel Advises Producers Pay Close Attention to Market Dynamics  Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:04:16 CDT
  • Cattle Markets Not Expected to Improve as Seasonal Demand Shifts into Lower Gear Heading into Fall  Tue, 10 Sep 2019 10:22:26 CDT
  • State Officials in Colorado Help Local Farmers, Ranchers Launch New "Better With Beef" Initiative  Mon, 09 Sep 2019 11:21:19 CDT
  • Beef Industry Soon to Launch New Campaign Leveraging Consumer Interest in the BQA Program  Fri, 06 Sep 2019 10:06:04 CDT
  • NCBA's Alisa Harrison Highlights the Tremendous Value Digital Marketing Adds to the Beef Checkoff  Thu, 05 Sep 2019 10:27:08 CDT


    Beef Buzz Archives

    Old Archives  |   2010  |   2011  |   2012  |   2013  |   2014  |   2015  |   2016  |   2017  |   2018  |   Jan 19  |   Feb 19  |   Mar 19  |   Apr 19  |   May 19  |   Jun 19  |   Jul 19  |   Aug 19  |   Sep 19  |   Oct 19  |   Nov 19  |   Dec 19

    Ron salutes our daily email sponsors!

    Oklahoma Ag Credit Oklahoma Farm Bureau National Livestock Credit P&K Equipment Tulsa Farm Show AFR Insurance Stillwater Milling KIS FUTURES, INC. Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association

    Our Road to Rural Prosperity sponsors!

    Banc First OPSRC ORWA

    Search OklahomaFarmReport.com

    © 2008-2019 Oklahoma Farm Report
    Email Ron   |   Newsletter Signup   |    Current Spots   |    Program Links

    WebReady powered by WireReady® Inc.