Things to keep in mind before starting a breeding business

Rural Texas is developing and urbanizing rapidly. Many city dwellers want to escape to the countryside to live a calm and peaceful life or to take advantage of the leisure possibilities on their own land. As a result, large tracts in rural areas are divided into properties of 5 to 100 acres; many have less than 20 acres. New rural owners almost always wish to retain or obtain an ad valorem tax exemption, which is most often granted for agricultural use of the land.

They often decide to set up breeding businesses to meet tax exemption requirements. However, most tax authorities require that it be demonstrated that such a business is economically viable. In other words, owning an animal as a pet will not qualify for the tax exemption.

An ideal business for small areas requires:

  • minimum facilities (both in construction, expenditure and space required);
  • minimal work (time and physical effort); and
  • minimal expertise in breeding.

They also have easily accessible markets for excess production or unwanted animals.

The most important concern of any landowner, large or small, is good management of the land. The three breeding companies in question here are the most ecologically compatible with small areas.

Sheep (photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service)

Livestock businesses almost always depend, at least to some extent, on the forage animals can eat. As a breeder, forage is your main product. No livestock enterprise can be economically viable for long if grazing destroys the fodder growing on the land.

Since livestock businesses depend on forage, the most critical decision you can make is the correct stocking rate for your land. The stocking rate is the number of animals per unit area of ​​land. It is generally expressed in acres per animal unit. An animal unit consumes 26 pounds of forage per day.

For example, an 80 pound ewe of a breed of hairy sheep is equivalent to 0.12 animal equivalent. Thus, eight ewes form an animal unit (which means that eight ewes consume approximately 26 pounds of forage per day). If you have 20 acres, but only 10 acres are producing forage for pasture, you will need to determine how many pounds of forage those 10 acres were producing to find out how many ewes you could graze on the land.

Small landowners generally overestimate the carrying capacity (sustainable loading rate) of their property. Landowners who graze too many animals for a long time will destroy the productivity of their land.

Overgrazing has these consequences:

  • Desirable and nutritious plants disappear and unwanted plants multiply, so animals do not function well without an expensive dietary supplement.
  • With the loss of native rangeland plants, precipitation cannot easily seep into the soil and tends to run off. Runoff causes soil erosion and pollutes surface water. Regenerating just 1 inch of topsoil will take several lifetimes.

Each property is unique, with different soil types, topography and plants. Therefore, general recommendations for proper loading rates or load capacities are not included here.

You will need help determining your load rate accurately. Contact your county extension agent or a representative of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. These professionals have forage production capacity guides for each county in Texas and can help you determine how much forage your land is likely to produce. They will advise you on the number of acres of your land that will be needed to support an animal unit with a minimum of additional feed.

– Submitted by Mario Villarino, Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Officer, Ag./Natural Resources. Dr Villarino can be contacted at [email protected]; at the Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Office, 1200-B West Houston St .; 903-885-3443; or PO Box 518, Sulfur Springs, TX 75483.

Additional information on this topic, including livestock rates for goats and cattle, can also be found in ‘Livestock for Small Acreage Landowners’, by Richard V. Machen and Robert K. Lyons’

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