For five generations the Treadwell Cattle Company has managed rangelands within the Edwards Plateau region of Texas supporting the five principles of habitat management first defined by Aldo Leopold as the “ax, cow, plow, fire and gun.” John and Brian Treadwell, the 4th and 5th generation managers from this Hill Country family utilize today’s versions of the ax for the effective management and removal of invasive brush species. They apply the second tool, the plow, as a means for improving the forage base for their operation and in the distribution of firebreaks across the landscape as a tool vital to successful management. The grazer, the third tool, has been managed and adapted for the region providing an efficient tool for utilizing the resources being produced in the region. Cattle and sheep are managed together in a rotational system that draws success from the naturally occurring dynamics of forage production in the region. John and Brian call upon the fourth tool, fire, as a critical component of their land management strategy and apply a rotational prescribed burning program that is in sync with the landscapes they manage to capture the benefits that the tool provides in managing their forage resource while strengthening the brush management activities. Last, the “gun” or often bow, is employed as a tool for managing a successful “low fence” hunting program. Together, these management principles are a successful example of how rangeland management provides for the holistic management of a ranching operation.
Through the efforts of John and Brian, the Treadwell Cattle Company has positively impacted aspects of habitat management, erosion control, supplemental food resources, water/shelter for wildlife, predator control and the employment of wildlife population surveys…all strengthening the results of their proactive management actions. What has led to success for the family over the past 132 years has not been held close as a family secret. The ranch and its managers readily welcome, and are willing to help, neighbors for things like prescribed burns; thus, providing that peer to peer learning that is so valuable for resilient management of rangeland ecosystems. Beyond the neighbors, the ranch continues to coordinate field trips and other outreach efforts in association with local 4H Clubs for range and wildlife management seminars and serve as guest speakers at many field-days and workshops in the region.
For this and many more reasons, the Society for Range Management recognizes the Treadwell Cattle Company, John & Brian Treadwell and family, with the 2020 Excellence in Range Management Award presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.
William Fox, TX Section