Many permittees own land and appurtenances known as a ‘base property.’ Grazing privileges on public lands are usually tied to base properties, which may include other assets such as water rights.
Where do livestock go during the off season? Where would they go if AUMs on public lands had to be curtailed because of a fire or drought? Back to the base property and/or rented pastures, where the ranchers would have to pay market rates to feed them.
The 4M Ranch, a sponsor of the Meeker Mustang Makeover and probable beneficiary of wild horses thus adopted, has almost 12,000 acres of deeded lands which, presumably, secure its grazing privileges on 125,000 acres of BLM and Forest Service lands.
Hay production on the ranch, about 1,200 tons annually, would support 240 cow/calf pairs, assuming they consume five tons per year per pair (25 to 30 pounds per day).
Forage on the deeded acres would support another 100 cow/calf pairs, assuming a stocking rate of eight pairs per thousand acres.
Additional food can be imported (at going rates) if a larger number of animals is desired. No more dependence on government, no more slurping at the public trough.
Yes, it’s a radical idea—confining them to their own property. Nobody has ever been expected to do that.