East Texas ranchers deal with excessive rain; flies a big problem

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - It’s not often you hear a Texas rancher concerned about too much rain. Though, this spring it’s happening at the local cafe to the sale barn. Cattle rancher Tom Bellmeyer has a favorite phrase on his place, The Red Gate Farm.

“If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

Thanks to Bellmeyer’s hard work a few weeks ago, you won’t be seeing his 90 head of Brangus fretting over horn flies.

This spring excessive rain has made them really troublesome.

“I worked my cattle three and a half weeks ago. I put fly tags in their ears. I started ear tags about six years ago. And change different chemical analysis every other year,” said Bellmeyer.

Topical sprays work too until a gully washer rinses it all away. During periods of heavy rain, ranchers are advised to use a mineral that contains an insect growth regulator. Research and science at work.

“If you ignore your fly numbers you can definitely see a significant weight loss in calves,” said Lane Dunn, Texas A&M AgriLife agent in Shelby County. “And you can see a loss in production of milk. And actually, weight loss in cows.”

And excessive rain brings on another problem.

“Typically, this time of year this barn is probably 75% to 90% of hay,” said Bellmeyer from a large hay barn. “And as you can tell there is four bales left over from last year.”

Too wet to mow. Too wet to spray pasture insects and weeds.

“We’re ready to go. It’s just that when Mother Nature will let us into the fields and when the fields are dry,” said Bellmeyer.

As pastures dry out, and they will. A Texas July and August aren’t far away, Bellmeyer will secure hay sources and accept the challenge 2021 has brought on.

“A challenge is good. That’s the great thing about the farm and ranch world is that every year is different.”

Staying one step ahead of the problems always helps out.

The Red Gate Farm will host the annual Pineywoods Cattle Congress Friday, June 4 from 8:30 to 2. Click here for more information on the Pineywoods Cattle Congress, Friday, June 4 at Red Gate Farm. Directions: From Center take Hwy. 96 N, Turn left onto FM 2026, go approx. 5.2 miles, Turn right onto FM 4293, Farm is about 2 miles on right. Look for signs. You can also click here.

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