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Using Mobile Apps to Assist in Grazing Management

By Andy James

Texas has over 142M acres of open lands (i.e., working lands) with the majority designated as grazing lands for various livestock (105M acres; 2012). Texas leads the nation in sheep, goat and cattle production with over 94M head of cattle alone. Even with this strong representation, landowners often mix livestock production and wildlife management on the same property. Other landowners now primarily manage for wildlife on an additional 3.3M acres which helps maintain ecological functions of the state’s grasslands and forests. Given the preponderance of livestock and growing interest in wildlife management, it’s easy to understand why grazing management is essential for sustaining and improving open lands in Texas.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (Agrilife) is working to reach landowners and managers in innovative ways, and we created a number of free mobile apps to assist in land, wildlife and livestock management decisions. While there are a number of apps available, AgriLife’s Cow Poop Analyzer and the Stocking Rate Calculator for Grazing Livestock apps are two valuable tools when it comes to how cattle are responding to food sources and how many head to stock.



The Cow Poop Analyzer app can be used to monitor crude protein and digestibility of forage that cattle are grazing. This app allows the user to take pictures of a manure pile and then cross reference the photo to other photos of manure with known forage quality descriptions. Each new record is then tied back to a particular pasture and time of year so that forage quality can be monitored over time.

Matching forage quality with the nutritional requirements of cattle at different times of the year will allow livestock managers to know when forage quality is adequate, how to utilize available forage more efficiently, and when supplemental feed may be needed.

 

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