Cattle Ranges of the Southwest Page: 19 of 32
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BENEFIT TO BE EXPECTED FROM RENEWAL OF RANGES.
It is estimated by those who have carefully examined the matter
that about one-half of the acreage of central Texas is available for
agricultural purposes, the other one-half being grazing lands. The
territory recognized by that name is 100 by 200 miles in extent. This
means 20,000 sections. The 10,000 sections considered as range lands
contain 6,400,000 acres. If the statement previously noted is true,
namely, that this section when first occupied might have supported 400
cattle on every section, the 10,000 sections would feed 4,000,000 cattle.
To be conservative, suppose that in its early abundance the grass on
every two acres would have kept one head of cattle, this would give
3,200,000 as the capacity of the region exclusive of agricultural lands.
But it is estimated that, since the overstocking, 10 acres, on an average,
are now necessary to the annual support of every head of cattle. This
means that the 10,000 sections of grass land can now maintain, year in
and year out, only about 640,000 cattle. Taking the fair average
market value of the stock cattle of central Texas now at about $20
per head, the 3,200,000 which it has been estimated could have been
sustained on these ranges in 1880 would be worth $51,200,000, while the
640,000 cattle-the present capacity of the range-are worth only
$12,800,000, a decrease of $39,200,000 in the last twenty years. If the
supposition is correct that it is yet practicable for the range throughout
central Texas to be renewed to the extent of restoring it to its
former capacity for maintaining stock, the above figures show the possible
advantage that such a consummation would secure.
This condition of the range in central Texas represents very fairly
the state of affairs in all the grazing regions of this country, excepting
only those where the ranchman owns all the land or controls it
under lease for a term of years. It is only when the stockman knows
that it will be to his own financial interest to make improvements
that efforts for the betterment of the range will be made.
There must first be stability in the control of the ranges before the
necessary improvements that will bring back the old days of prosperity
can be made. After this will follow better water facilities, winter
shelter, hay, blooded stock, destruction of weeds and animal pests, the
cultivation of the best of the native grasses and forage plants, and the
introduction of new and improved sorts. There are many hundred
thousand acres of land in the Southwest that will always be better
adapted to stock raising than to anything else. With the use of the
proper measures these ranges may continue for many years to be the
finest grazing and breeding land on the American continent.
NATIVE GRASSES BEST FOR HOME USE.
From the list of well-known grasses and forage plants given further
on, with details as to their respective merits or demerits, it ought not to
be difficult for those interested in the renewal of the ranges through.
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Bentley, Henry Lewis. Cattle Ranges of the Southwest, book, 1898; Washington. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2412/m1/19/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .