Who says cows and quail don’t mix? Cole County cattleman, Jeremia Markway, reports four quail coveys on his 180-acres of fescue. What’s his secret? He uses 1- to 3-acre paddocks and frequent rotation to keep his cattle bunched up and moving across the grass. “I try to manage my cattle not only to make a profit, but to improve the habitat and ecosystem sustainability as a whole,” Jeremia says. With rapid rotation (he moves his cows to a new paddock almost every day), he produces the range of short-to-high vegetation quail chicks need. A combination of portable and semi-permanent electric fencing creates an ever-changing number of paddocks, and each paddock generally gets 60 to 90 days of rest before cows reenter it. That’s adequate time for quail and songbirds to nest successfully. For more on managing fescue for fat cows and good habitat, visit the links listed below.
Want to know if quail are responding to your habitat management? Set up listening stations, and count calling coveys the last three weeks in October. The Private Land Services Division’s new Web page explains how to conduct a successful count. Including audio files of quail calls and a handy datasheet, the page details the process of establishing permanent listening stations on your land, so you can collect and track data year after year. Find the Web site listed below.
If you have eligible cropland, State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE ) of the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can help you enhance it for quail, prairie chickens and other declining wildlife. Eligible producers may enter into new CRP-SAFE contracts with their local Farm Service Agency. For their efforts, participants will receive an annual rental payment equivalent to the county’s soil rental rates, plus an annual maintenance payment. Also, participating producers are eligible for cost-share assistance of up to 50 percent of eligible practice installation costs. Incentives of $100 per acre and additional cost-share are also offered. To find out if your land qualifies for CRP-SAFE , call your local USDA Farm Service Agency.
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