Livestock

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Ranchers have long complained about the amount of red tape required to get grazing permits, and about not being included on land management decisions.

The Bureau of Land Management hopes to resolve some of that tension with a new pilot program that will speed up the permitting process and allow ranchers to determine the best way to make rangelands healthier.

Wyoming BLM spokesperson Kristen Lenhardt said it’s in the best interest of ranchers to improve rangeland quality and their voice needs to be heard.

Theo Stein / USFWS

Many ranchers around the West are searching for a way to control a recent increase in livestock killed on the range. At the annual Wyoming Farm Bureau meeting this month, members supported a new policy they hope will address the problem. Farm Bureau spokesman Brett Moline said it’s not clear why people are shooting more livestock.

Mike Cline, Public Domain

In the last couple years, wolves have killed record numbers of livestock in northwestern Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now stepping in to protect calves with special fencing on a ranch near Jackson.

Wyoming Director of Wildlife Services Mike Foster said in a press video that the agency has installed over two miles of an electrified wire known as turbo fladry on the Walton Ranch where large packs of wolves have moved in.

“It’s an electrified polywire and it has plastic flags that hang off the wire."

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Two of the four wolves suspected of preying on cattle in northwest Wyoming have been killed. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that has successfully stopped the livestock depredations in the area, making it unnecessary to kill the other two wolves for now.

The Service’s Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott says if it seems like there’s been more lethal control of wolves recently, that’s because there has been.

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office criticizes public lands agencies for poor management of grazing permits. The watchdog says conflicts and armed standoffs over grazing rights, like the one in 2014 in Nevada, would be less likely if public land agencies improved their permit tracking methods.

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University of Wyoming researchers found 70 acres of land near Sheridan infested with Ventenata, an invasive grass species that’s been hurting hay production in nearby states.

A single plant of Ventenata was first found near the Sheridan area in 1997. Since then, the grass has spread unchecked. Ventenata is known to be a low-quality biomass grass–it doesn’t add a lot of nutritional content for hay production or livestock foraging. Ventenata can reduce hay production yields by up to 50 percent according to the United States Forest Service.

Gary Kramer - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

UPDATE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed 9 of the 16 wolves in the Dell Creek wolf pack and ceased their extermination once the pack stopped killing cattle in the area. To learn more about the pack and wolf management in Wyoming, click here.

A wolf pack in Western Wyoming has been evading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after killing as many as ten cattle this winter.

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The Laramie County Public Library hosted a talk last week with animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin. She discussed how her own autism helped her understand the way animals think in pictures. Grandin has used this knowledge to develop methods and equipment—now commonly used in the industry—to make livestock less stressed and more manageable in feedlots and slaughter units.

She also offered advice to Wyoming’s many small livestock producers. She says, some of the old-fashioned ranching methods may need to go, like yelling at cattle and using horses to move them.

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It’s been a wet summer with lots of bugs. And all those flies and insects have led to the worst outbreak in years of a livestock virus known as vesicular stomatitis. The virus is identical to foot and mouth disease, except it can affect not only cattle but horses and other livestock. It causes sores on the animal’s mouth, ears and feet. State Veterinarian Jim Logan advises stopping the spread of the disease by limiting contact with other’s people’s livestock and with insects.

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Harvest data is rolling in from around the state, and so far, it appears to have been a bountiful year. A wet summer and dry September were especially helpful for beans, corn and livestock pastures in Wyoming, according to Rhonda Brandt with the National Agriculture Statistics Service.

A local organization is calling for an overhaul of Wyoming’s trapping regulations, saying they haven't been updated since before the de-listing of wolves.

The group—called Wyoming Untrapped--says more people are setting traps since the de-listing of wolves, which are considered livestock predators. The increase has led to more pets caught in snares and leg holds. 

The Wyoming Beef Council is launching an online campaign in an effort to improve beef’s image with the millennial generation.  That’s anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000’s.  The campaign will feature recipes on social media sites popular with millennials. 

Irina Zhorov

The U.S. cow herd is small right now because of the extended drought that’s plagued large swathes of the country. But though dry conditions have driven ranchers to sell off animals they would have otherwise kept, the decreasing size of the national herd is a trend decades in the making. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports on how livestock producers in Wyoming are turning out more meat with fewer animals.

Walt Hubis / Flickr - Creative Commons

The floods in Colorado could cause a spike in hay prices, which could be good and bad news for Wyoming ranchers.

Many Colorado ranchers lost their season’s hay supply in the deluges that swept across the eastern plains.  And that means many Colorado ranchers will likely turn to Wyoming hay producers to feed their livestock through the winter, if they have livestock left to feed.

Brett Moline with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says this might cause the price of hay to rise on the market.

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After last year’s crushing drought, wetter weather is helping crops recover, and prices are dropping.
 

US corn yields are up, according to IHS, Inc., a company that publishes stock market industry data. The company expects corn and soybean prices to drop by 10 percent in the third-quarter of this year.


Brett Moline of the Wyoming Farm Bureau says that means it’s cheaper for feed lots to finish more cattle, which is good news for cattle ranchers. 

The number of cattle nationwide is at its lowest since the 1950s. Wyoming’s population is just under 1.3 million, down 5% from last year and the lowest since the early 1990s. Drought has caused many ranchers in the state to sell off cattle.

Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna, says some older ranchers with smaller operations liquidated their herds altogether and he predicts those cattle will not be replaced for close to a decade.  

New research shows that wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem tend to shadow herds of elk.

Matt Kauffman with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is one of the report’s authors. He says their findings could help ranchers protect their livestock, because elk often graze among cattle.

“When ranchers move their cattle into grazing allotments that overlap with those resident elk areas, that might be a time to increase the amount of attention they pay to those cattle, with range riders and that type of thing,” Kauffman said.

Fires burning around Wyoming are impacting livestock, in addition to people. The Wyoming Livestock Board estimates that between 8,000 and almost 13,000 head have been displaced as a result of the fires.

Board Director Leanne Stevenson, says the board issued an emergency order allowing for the movement of livestock between county lines without the brand inspection that is normally required.   

 

Authorities are investigating a factory pork farm in Wheatland after the Humane Society filed a complaint about harsh treatment of pigs there.

The Humane Society sent an undercover investigator to work at Wyoming Premium Farmsfor an unknown period of time, where she filmed workers kicking piglets and punching sows. The group sent complaints and videos to the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Livestock Board.
The sheriff was unavailable for comment, but Jim Siler of the Livestock Board says they’ve begun investigating conditions at the farm.