Cattle Ranges of the Southwest Page: 17 of 32
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SUPPLY OF HAY AND FORAGE.
A herd of good cattle on a good range may and will, in all probability,
thrive under favorable weather conditions. But there are
seasons every few years in the southwestern range country when the
range will not furnish sufficient nutritious food for stock. Many stockmen
deride the view that cattle may not be able to do well all the year
round on the range without other shelter than the scattering, stunted
mesquite trees growing thereon, and without other food than that
which they can pick up themselves. But they do not comprehend the
situation. An early frost may any year seriously injure the quality of
the range grasses. Winter rains may cause the mature grasses to rot,
and so render theii worthless as food for stock. A cow may manage
to pull through the winter even on a range thus injured. And it is
just possible that a longhorn may stand such treatment better even
than a shorthorn. But to say nothing of the lieartlessness of treatment
that necessarily involves so much suffering on the part of stock,
it pays to take the best possible care of the cattle at all times. During
severe winters thousands of cattle and sheep die practically from
starvation when 5 per cent of their value invested in hay or other
proper food and fed to them through the winter would not only have
saved their lives, but have brouglht them into the spring in healthy,
growing condition. In the early history of central Texas there was
no difficulty in securing first-class hay anywhere and everywhere.
With the range renewed, this condition may be again attained. A
careful study of the range grasses of the section and their systematic
propagation will accomplish this purpose of slipplyiilg hay for winter
use and forage for summer. It seems plain that this is the solution of
the difficulty. Hence the suggestion is made that stockmen should
without delay take the matter in hand. Further on in this report there
will be described several of the grasses still to be found in this section
that in past years were utilized for hay purposes. What has been done
may be done again, and it is quite practicable for such grasses to be
again used for hay to the great saving of cattle and other stock.
NATIVE GRASSES FOR HAY AND PASTURAGE.
Proper care must be exercised in the selection of the native grasses
to be used for hay. Every year enormous quantities of baled hay are
shipped into central Texas from other sections of Texas, and even
from points outside of the State. This is all wrong, and should be,
and may be remedied by the establishment and careful cultivation
of hay meadows. Efforts have been made by some stockmen to grow
alfalfa and other forage plants not native to the country. With irrigation
alfalfa has done well, but it has been found impracticable to grow
it successfully and profitably under other conditions in this section.
Johnson grass is a great hay grass, and will thrive well without irrigation,
but there are many objections to its extensive propagation, which
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Bentley, Henry Lewis. Cattle Ranges of the Southwest, book, 1898; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2412/m1/17/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .