Clear Goals Make This Rancher’s Grazing Management Work

After spending 30 years in the car business, Brent Durham knew what he wanted to do when he retired: hunt. So, in 2012, he came back to his family’s roots in Clay County, Texas, to purchase a 5,000-acre ranch, a portion of which his family homesteaded in the 1880s. “I was a quail hunter before I was a rancher,” he says. “I bought this place because I wanted wildlife habitat.” But he also knew the important role that grazing plays in creating wildlife habitat. "One of the worst things I have seen happen to good quail country is to take livestock off it," Durham says. "Quail and turkey can’t get through waist-high grass. Cattle can be an excellent tool for managing quail habitat, and really almost all wildlife habitat for that matter." Today Durham says, “I’m managing the ranch not just for my five-foot-tall cows, but also for quail that are only four inches tall. With the high-intensity grazing, the cattle come into a pasture and eat what they can – or tromp what they don’t eat into the ground. This adds organic matter that improves soil quality, promotes plant diversity and keeps the plants in a vegetative state, which wildlife like. Cattle grazing then leaves a visible path for dove, turkey, and quail to come in and forage behind them.” “This area has s

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