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Overview

New Mexico State University's Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, operated by the Animal and Range Sciences Department, is located approximately 190 miles northeast of Las Cruces and 8 miles east of the village of Corona. In 1988 the Fort Stanton Research Ranch was dissolved and NMSU purchased 21,470 acres in southeastern Torrance and Northcentral Lincoln counties. In 1990, an additional, adjoining 6,416 acres was purchased in Northcentral Lincoln county. The current research center encompasses 27,886 acres (or approximately 43 sections). The elevation at the center ranges from approximately 5,701 to 6,720 feet.

Improvements have been designed and implemented to facilitate research interests and include new water developments, new fencing schemes, and additional livestock handling facilities for both the cattle and sheep operations. Today, there are approximately 20 miles of pipeline and over 50 livestock drinking tubs. Originally fenced into large multiple section pastures, the research center today includes 53 pastures and traps in a variety of sizes to accommodate better controlled grazing practices as well as easier handling for various research projects. Pasture sizes now include a small 39-acre trap, several 320-acre unitized blocks and several pastures that include 1,800 or more acres. There are seven cattle handling facilities and one sheep handling facility located strategically to complement a variety of research projects. These facilities all include individual animal scales, squeeze chutes, palpation cages, and multiple sorting pens. The Headquarters is located eight miles east of the village of Corona and includes a residence, shop, office/apartment, bulk and bag feed storage areas, livestock barn and corrals. North Camp is located approximately 14 miles northeast of Corona and includes a residence, laboratory, multiple bunkhouses, part time residence, shop/barn, and cattle and sheep handling facilities.

Currently, the center employs two full-time onsite personnel, a manager and a technician, who manage the center in accordance to the desires of the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center's steering committee.

Since 1988, research on the ranch has included brush control, grazing management, mule deer and pronghorn populations, fee hunting, cattle and sheep nutrition and reproduction, and broom snakeweed and locoweed control.

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Adams Road

Natural Resource Management

Successful ranching on pinon-juniper rangelands in the western United States is frequently associated with a manager's ability to manipulate woodland structure to obtain multiple rangeland uses. The Corona Range and Livestock Research Center lies on an ecotone between pinon-juniper and shortgrass steppe rangeland ecosystems. Much of our work in natural resource management is focused on developing integrated vegetation manipulation strategies designed to enhance habitat quality for both livestock and wildlife. Our research therefore focuses on the combined use of herbicides, fire, mechanical techniques, and targeted browsing by goats and sheep. Our objective is to develop tools to obtain desired plant communities that provide for the needs of cattle, sheep, mule deer, and antelope while maintaining healthy hydro-ecological functions.

Most Recent Publications

  • Grazing patterns of yearling heifers in juniper woodlands when supplemented away from water. 2008. Derek Bailey, Barbara Witmore and Andres Cibils. Abstract.
  • Influence of infrequent heavy defoliation on herbaceous biomass and basal cover of pinyon juniper understory. 2008. Hector Ramirez, Sam Fernald, Andres Cibils and Dawn VanLeeuwen. Abstract.
  • Measures of daily distribution patterns of cow calf pairs using global positioning systems on both cows and calves. 2008. Bob Wesley, Andres Cibils, Emily Pollack, Shad Cox, Travis Mulliniks, Mark Petersen and Ed Fredrickson. Abstract.
  • One-seed juniper use by goats: Influence of stocking density and mixed grazing in summer and spring. 2008. Santiago Utsumi, Andres Cibils, Rick Estell and John Walker. Abstract.
  • Using soil moisture to estimate the economic value of rainfall events for range forage production. 2008. Allen Torell, Kirk McDaniel and Brian Hurd. Abstract.
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Beef Cattle

Range beef cattle production depends on the nutritional quality and quantity of available forage species. Winter and early spring months typically provide the least availability of high quality or nutritionally dense forage. During this time period on most operations, cows are expected to provide nutrients to the developing fetus during pregnancy, produce milk for a new calf after calving, and maintain or increase her physiological status during the postpartum period in order to conceive for the next production cycle.

Ongoing research projects are designed to profile the nutritional physiology involved in range beef cattle production, as well as developing new feeds and feeding strategies to supplement cattle during times of nutritional stress at an economical advantage. Currently there are four areas of special interest: Replacement heifer development, young cow post-partum supplementation, mature cow supplementation alternatives, and weaned calf management strategies.

Most Recent Publications

  • Use of methylglyoxal as a tool in predicting ruminal nitrogen status. 2007. Mike Horvath, Shad Cox, Mark Petersen and Shanna Lodge-Ivey. Vol. 58:
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Sheep and Wool

The general objective of the sheep and wool research conducted at the Corona ranch is to investigate methods to increase ewe productive efficiency. We have conducted a variety of studies investigating the effectiveness of supplementation. Research conducted during the first 6 years on the ranch indicated that supplemental feeding did not improve ewe production as measured by weaning weight of lambs and wool production. Recently, a three year trial was completed that investigated lamb mortality from ewe ovulation to weaning while concurrently measuring the effectiveness of crossbreeding on lamb weaning weights using mutton rams. Over the three years of this study, mutton crossed lambs carried an 8.5% advantage over the straight whiteface lambs at weaning. Current research is a direct result of encouragement from NM rancher and is directed towards the use of South African Meat Merino (SAMM) rams in an AI program. We are currently trying to determine if the South African Meat Merino (SAMM) will be a viable option for increased profitability on New Mexico sheep ranches. We have bred the first ewes (AI) to a SAMM ram. The lambs should be on the ground in May 2007.

The Corona Range and Livestock Research Center was the home for the New Mexico Range Ram Performance Test throughout the 1990's. However, due to drought and decreasing interest, the test program was discontinued to help facilitate de-stocking efforts.

The Corona Range and Livestock Research Center is currently grazing 220 mature grade Rambouillet ewes. Over the years, the flock size has ranged as high as 250 mature ewes to a low of about 150 head. The ewe flock is not supplemental fed, except for mineral, and continues to be productive. In 2003, the flock weaned a 116% lamb crop and in 2004, 104%. The 3 year average lamb crop at marking for 2003 - 2005 was 114%. The weaning weight of lambs was 92 and 82 lbs in 2003 and 2004, respectively for whiteface lambs. This year (2007), the average wool weight was 10.2 lbs of grease wool per ewe. The fiber diameter averaged 23.3μm and 3.6 inches in length (Note: 100 of the 230 ewes shorn were yearlings).

Most Recent Publications

  • One seed juniper intake by sheep and goats supplemented with degradable or by-pass protein. S. Utsumi, A. Cibils, R. Estell, S. Soto Navarro, T. Ross, S. Ivey, M. Giacomini, S. Cox and M. Rubio. 2006. Wildland Shrub Symposium. Abstract.
  • Uso del pastero de ovejas y cabras como herramienta para manejar la invasion de tascate. S. Utsumi, A. Cibils, R. Estell, S. Soto Navarro. 2006. Simposium Internacional de Pastizales. Abstract.
  • Influence of protein supplements on juniper intake by goats and sheep. S. Utsumi, A. Cibils, R. Estell, Y. F. Wang and S. A. Soto Navarro. 2006. NM Sect. Soc. Range Mgt. Poster.

Registered Angus Herd

The Department of Animal and Range Sciences maintains three purebred cattle herds for the purpose of teaching, research and demonstration. The Angus herd was initiated in 1979. The majority of this herd is maintained at the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center (CRLRC) with the remainder of the herd being maintained at the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center (CDRRC) near Las Cruces. At the CRLRC, the Angus herd is comingled and managed with the commercial crossbred herd. This means that they are given no special treatment and are expected to perform while being subjected to our current research investigating lower-cost, strategic supplementation programs. All Angus cows are estrus synchronize and artificially inseminated on the 15th of May each year and allowed a maximum of 60 days with Angus herd bulls. Sires are determined with DNA analysis. All calves are weaned and sold to the Department of Animal and Range Sciences Campus Farm where the bulls are performance tested and sold in the spring. Heifers are developed, estrus synchronize and artificially inseminated on campus then purchased back from the campus farm and shipped back to the CRLRC where they are comingled with the commercial crossbred heifers and allowed 45 days with herd bulls. Sires are also determined by DNA analysis.

Selection within the NMSU Angus herd is based upon maximizing reproductive efficiency while simultaneously increasing growth performance for providing their own female replacements. Reproductively this herd has responded very well. The average age at first calving is 23 months plus 25 days. The calving interval is 370 day. The dystocia rate for the past 5 years is 9 per cent. This selection has made EPD"s of: Calving Ease direct: Top 10% of the entire Angus breed in the U.S. and Birth Weight: Top 3% of the entire Angus breed in the U.S. As an added advantage of this selection the dollars of energy is in the top 10% of the U.S. The data from range to rail shows the calves from Corona Ranch is the most efficient in feed conversion of all calves on test and are the most profitable of the calf feds. Natural service sires are typically selected from within the herd after performance testing and purchased back from the campus farm. These sires are also selected based upon calving ease and reproductive performance of their dam and daughters for their sire. Selection procedure also includes balancing EPD potential for growth and carcass traits and scrotal circumference in coordination with growth performance in the NMSU performance bull test. Artificial insemination sires are selected to bring genetic improvement to the herds and are based upon high accuracy EPD's.

Female superiority is documented in the American Angus Association with the Pathfinder Award. Requirements for this award include delivered her 1st calf before 25 months of age, maintained a calving interval of one year +30 days and provided a within herd weaning weight ratio of 105 or greater for her first three calves. These NMSU cows have earned this award: Miss NMSU 706, 901, 135, 247, 239, 261, 361, 415, 445, 545, 743, 853, 883, 889, 938, 0070 and 0122(=active in the herd).

Popular Press Articles

Corona Mule Deer

Wildlife

The mission of the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center (CRLRC) Wildlife Program is to produce and maintain viable mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) populations that economically contribute toward the support of the CRLRC. The mule deer and pronghorn resources are managed in a manner consistent with providing quality research, teaching and demonstration opportunities for the faculty, staff and students of New Mexico State University. The results of these efforts are used in extension programs designed to aid New Mexico citizens in their ability to manage natural resources while improving their quality of life.

Mule deer and pronghorn on the CRLRC were subjected to a fee-hunting operation prior to New Mexico State University's acquisition of the area. The fee-hunting program continues to be operated with approximately 33 mule deer and 6 pronghorn harvested annually. Data have been collected from hunter-harvested males to assess trophy quality and body condition. Data also has been collected to estimate mule deer numbers, sex, and age ratios, home range size, and changes of vegetation on CRLRC. These data have been used to make management decisions regarding the fee-hunting program and the overall health of the mule deer herd.

In effect, the CRLRC acts as a demonstration area for economically profitable and ecologically sound holistic management of rangeland resources in New Mexico. Because data on big game management on CRLRC are used to provide recommendations on co-managing mule deer, pronghorn, and livestock on ranches in New Mexico, CRLRC has enhanced the rigor of data collection and interpretation regarding wildlife resources.

Current wildlife research programs include measures to increase the quality of population size and demographic data collected; increased emphasis on assessing population condition and health, as an index of overall range quality on CRLRC; and increased emphasis on identifying habitats, forages, and areas critical to the production of mule deer and pronghorn using telemetry on ranges jointly managed for livestock and wildlife.

Current Research

Most Recent Publications