If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

That was the underlying theme at the 2016 Spring Ranch Management University (RMU) which took place April 4-8 at the G. Rollie White Visitor’s Center on Texas A&M University’s O.D. Butler Animal Science Complex in College Station.

Forty-six people attended the five-day program coordinated by Dr. Larry Redmon, Texas A&M University Soil and Crop Sciences associate department head and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program leader. Redmon and his team of experts presented management options in subject areas ranging from forages to feral hogs. In each area, participants learned that assessments are paramount to management.


“If you are going to manage for deer, you must know how many deer are on your property,” stated Redmon. “It is the same as managing cattle or forages. You cannot make good decisions if you don’t know what is there. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

“It is a good idea to have a business plan,” said Dr. David Anderson, Professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Economist. “If you hear something that hits home for you this week write it down. Even if it is only for you, and no one else ever sees it, write it down. It’s good to get those ideas on paper. That will help you decide ‘what is it I want and how am I going to get there’.”


During the week, specialists covered topics included marketing livestock, forages, soil, brush, beef cattle, horses, and a variety of species of wildlife. Each presenter stressed that knowing which species are present, and what the goal is for the property are the keys to finding the best management and the best balance.

“Which species of plants will grow on a piece of property is determined by the soil and the weather,” said Dr. Jake Mowrer of Texas A&M University’s Soil and Crop Science Department. “Soil testing is necessary to determine the current soil nutrient status and what management is needed.”

According to Mowrer, there are plants that will grow well in each of the varied climates in the state of Texas, but landowners need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their regions. Chemical soil tests will help landowners make the most of the soil in their area.


“The county agents have a good handle on what will grow in their region and are a great resource for landowners,” Mowrer stated. “It’s also good to talk to forage specialists like Redmon or Dr. Vanessa A. Corriher-Olson, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Overton.”
Understanding which species of plants are present is important to manage for wildlife, according to Dr. James Cathey, Professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Specialist in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. He made several presentations covering the habitat and management necessary for white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey, doves and bobwhite quail.

RMU is designed for new landowners and potential new landowners, providing information to those with limited experience to help them make the best choices for their property. Classroom presentations are supplemented with several “hands-on” demonstrations during the week. These opportunities included a soil pit; an animal handling demonstration; hay sampling; sprayer calibration; a feral hog trapping demonstration and a visit to the TAMU Aquaculture lab and pond.

At the soil pit, Mowrer demonstrated the different soil horizons and gave the participants had an opportunity to get their hands dirty hand-typing different soils. The participants also had an opportunity to handle a variety of soil sampling tools.

At the Texas A&M Beef Center, Cleere demonstrated livestock handling, medical care and castration methods.

Peter Woods, Texas AgriLife Extension Program Specialist II in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, led the aquaculture tour which included viewing the research and breeding facilities and the large farm pond where research is conducted in a more natural setting.
Mark Tyson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Associate in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, led the discussion on feral hogs and demonstrated several methods of control including snares and traps. He reminded the participants that feral hogs continue to be a growing concern that landowners must address.

Over the course of the program there is a wealth of information is presented. To help landowners make the most of what they hear, each goes home with a notebook full of the information and a flash drive containing over 100 articles. They also have the names and phone numbers of specialists in each area for additional contact.

“There is so much to learn, I am really glad I attended,” stated one participant, “When I get home, one of the first things I am going to do is get my soil tested.”

Ranch Management University is held twice each year, in the fall and in the spring. In the first four years of the program, the impact can be measured in the millions of dollars, according to the landowners own valuations.

“We survey the participants after the event, and again a year later,” explained Redmon. “According to their own numbers, there have been 188 thousand acres involved prior to 2016. The impact the landowners attribute to RMU is $28 million.”

Because they measure the impact and the outcomes, Redmon and his crew can manage the RMU experience for landowners, and like any well implemented program, it continues to get better.

The next RMU will be held October 24-28 in College Station.

For more information contact: Dr. Larry Redmon – (979) 845-4008 [email protected] or Linda Francis – (979) 845-2425 [email protected]