According to Land Association, stocking rates in Texas vary from 1 cow per acre on heavily managed pasture in the Eastern portion of the state to 1 cow per 150 acres (4 cows per section) in the Trans Pecos Region of the state). However, if you have livestock, or plan on running livestock on your property, it is imperative that you understand how many heads your property can support, known as your property’s Carrying Capacity.

Carrying capacity is more or less defined as the number of animals your property can support year after year without exhibiting damage to the vegetation or related resources. Note that understanding this number is crucial because if you under stock you will not maximize livestock production.

However, if you overstock, your property will lose vegetation productivity, exhibit soil compaction, soil loss, a loss of wildlife diversity, and a host of other consequences that can take years to recover from. Generally, Livestock comes in many shapes and sizes and includes cattle, sheep, and goats.

There is large variability in the size of cattle also. Some cattle breeds are larger than others and require more forage. Since there is such variability in size for livestock, range managers and cattlemen use a standardized term called an Animal Unit.

Note that an ANIMAL UNIT represents a 1,000lb cow (with or without a calf under 6 months old). A cow of this size consumes 26lbs of dry matter forage per day or 9,490 lbs/year. Dry weight is calculated by drying grass clippings in an oven until there is no moisture remaining –more like 26lbs of dry hay vs. 26lbs of fresh grass clippings.

To give you a range of stocking rates for several Texas regions and tell you how to determine how many cattle your land can support, here are the number of Cows per acre in Texas according to www.landAssociation.org!

Number Of Cows Per Acre In Texas

East Texas      

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: 1 AU / 1-3 Acres
  • Native Pasture: 1 AU / 3-6 Acres
  • Woodland: 1 AU / 50-75 Acres

Edwards Plateau       

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: 1 AU / 2-6 Acres
  • Native Pasture : 1 AU / 10-60 Acres
  • Woodland: 1 AU / 50-75 Acres

Pan Handle    

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: 1 AU / 2-6 Acres
  • Native Pasture : 1 AU / 20-50 Acres
  • Woodland: N/A

Post Oak Savannah

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: 1 AU / 3-6 Acres
  • Native Pasture : 1 AU / 8-15 Acres
  • Woodland: 1 AU / 50-75 Acres

South Texas Plains

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: 1 AU / 2.5 – 8 Acres
  • Native Pasture : 1 AU / 15-30 Acres
  • Woodland: 1 AU / 35-60 Acres

West Texas

  • Improved/Managed Pasture: N/A
  • Native Pasture : 1 AU / 35-150 Acres
  • Woodland: N/A

Tips and Factors to Consider When Buying a Land to Raise Cow(s) in Texas

Most people in Texas grew up in rural communities or had family members that did. People dream of getting back to a simpler way of life, out of the rat race of the city and away from the noise. However, if you are considering buying rural land in Texas, here are a few things to consider

  1. Property Exemptions

Note that a minimum of 10 acres is recommended to maintain an Ag exemption. Each county has its own requirements but most require at least a minimum of 10 acres.  Immediately you’ve identified the county you want to buy in, it is advisable to make a phone call to the county appraisers’ office to find out what you need to do regarding your Ag or wildlife exemption.

Be sure to ask the county appraisal office about property size requirements and how your exemptions are to be maintained. If you plan to maintain your exemption by letting someone else run cattle on your property, it would be best to get your grass lease in writing.

  1. Property Use

Is your property going to be a future home site? Is it a place to hunt, fish, or a place to get away from the city? If you intend to raise a cow on the property, pay close attention to what was stated above regarding exemptions. If it is a future home site, you may have to consider schools and how close you are to groceries, hardware, or feed stores.

One crucial thing to consider when buying rural land is first to ensure you can use the property the way you want. You will have to find out if the property is deed restricted. If it is restricted, you will need to understand the restrictions and see if it keeps you from using the property the way you want. Don’t forget to find out what utilities are available and what the cost would be to add them to the property.

  1. Utilities

You should also know where your power is coming from and who the provider is. If you need an easement from a neighbor to run power to a property that you are buying, make sure you can get that easement before signing on the dotted line to purchase the property. Have it in mind that some rural properties are lucky enough to have public water but if not, get an idea of how deep the wells are in the area and the GPM that is to be expected.

Also, note that you can count on using satellite for your TV and internet. Sometimes local rural providers such as Western Broadband offer other internet options. In this age, most folks don’t require a land line for their phone but if you need one keep that in mind as well. And always check on your septic costs for your particular county

  1. Restricted or Unrestricted

Indeed a good number of people want unrestricted land because “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do on my land!!” However, most restrictions in rural areas are more or less pretty light and are designed to keep the area looking nice, and nice looking areas are great for resale and maintaining property values. Note that it is never a good idea to buy a deed restricted property and then think you can do whatever you want to on the property.

It might end up with the structure being torn down or even end up in court! The most common restrictions in Texas are no mobile homes, no junk yards, no pig farms, no shooting ranges, no commercial businesses, etc. Think about how miserable it would be if a shooting range opened up next door to you?

In that scenario, you’d be very grateful to have deed restrictions that prevented that from happening. Howbeit, not all deed restrictions are bad and most help keep the peace, the community looking nice, and property values at or above market.

  1. Leases

It is indeed very common for rural properties to have grass, farm, or hunting leases. In most cases, experts won’t recommend assuming someone else’s lease. When buying a property it is ideal to have all leases terminate prior to closing. You can always continue a lease with the same person after closing, but you can sign that up to clean and on your own terms.

  1. Floodplain

Almost all properties with a creek, river, or lake are likely to have a floodplain. If you prefer a waterfront or live water, having some floodplain on the property is just part of the deal. Note that some properties you wouldn’t expect to have floodplain can be completely covered with the floodplain. Viewing FEMA maps and/or mapping programs can help identify floodplain areas.

Sometimes your survey will show the floodplain, but not always. If you are acquiring a new survey always request the floodplain be shown. Just be aware of the floodplain areas and make sure they don’t impact your build sites or interfere with your intended use of the property. With proper planning, having a floodplain on a property does not have to be a bad thing.

  1. Survey

It is always preferable that you take the survey and inspect your boundaries, find your pins, and be aware of possible encroachments and fencing that is not on the boundary lines. Notably, fencing is never perfectly on anyone’s boundary but if it is way off you may want it fixed. A survey will also verify the exact amount of acres you are buying. If you are borrowing, your lender will require a survey.

  1. What Is Included

It is necessary that your contract clearly states what is excluded and what is included in the purchase price. If your purchase includes the portable panels, hunting blinds, feeders, troughs, etc, make sure your contract extensively states what these items convey to you. The same works for a seller on items that are excluded. Always be crystal clear on what conveys and what is excluded in a transaction.

Conclusion

As a general rule, moderate to light stocking rates for well-managed pastures in this area are one animal unit (cow with calf) per 8 – 15 acres on native grass; 3 – 6 acres on tame pastures (bermudagrass/Bahia grass); 50 – 75 acres on wooded areas.

These recommended stocking rates are general in nature and can vary depending on the current range and soil conditions. Therefore, developing a grazing plan specific to the local range and soil conditions will greatly enhance livestock production and improve or maintain suitable wildlife habitats.

Solomon. O'Chucks
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