Normally sacaton grass is burned off and grazed early in the year as cattle “refuse” to eat it when it gets taller. Just out of curiosity, I placed roughly half of the 420 cows into a sacaton draw.
The results are pretty dramatic and show that cattle really like this grass when it is at a stage where there is green underneath the cured grass. Almost a perfect diet as they are getting roughage and protein in every bite.
As you can see in this picture, this grass appears as if it would be too dry and coarse for cattle to graze…
However as you can see by the following picture, that assumption is wrong.
Normally cattle will not graze sacaton on their own at this stage. Yet these cattle, even though they have access to several kinds of gramma and bushy muley in this pasture, had to be pushed out of this area to utilize the rest of it.
From the standpoint of a recreational ranch trying to develop habitat, this is leaving cover for quail while at the same time, creating visibility for them to see approaching predators.
In 2013, Holistic Management International of Albuquerque will be offering three Cows and Quail workshops to teach how we can use cattle and wildlife together to improve habitat for both: Go here for information.
Tom Waddell, Armendaris Ranch: “Bison use this grass in the winter long after all other grasses have cured and the sacaton appears to have cured. If you peel off the outside dry husk of the grass you will find that it is green underneath.”
Steve Nelle, NRCS, retired: “Very nice. This should help open up areas between the big clumps and allow some forbs to grow.”