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McMillan East Farm provides real-world examples

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The McMillan East Farm small property demonstration began in August 2012 on 150 acres in Marshall County, Oklahoma, to demonstrate wildlife and cattle management on a relatively small property. Demonstration subject matters include wildlife and fisheries, soils and crops, forage and range, livestock, and economics. The property has 63 acres of pastures, 84 acres of woods and a 3-acre pond. Pastures are a mixture of native grasses, forbs, bermudagrass and annual cool-season grasses. Very few management activities had been conducted on the property for at least five years prior to 2012, and no infrastructure (interior fences, corrals, power, water, etc.) was present. This article provides an update on the projects conducted thus far.

Wildlife and Fisheries

  • Prescribed burns were used on 94 acres of native grass and wooded areas to improve wildlife habitat, open up understory, and improve forage quality and palatability.
  • Eastern red-cedars were removed from a portion of the property using mechanical and chemical methods as well as prescribed burning to improve wildlife habitat, increase forage production and reduce competition with more desirable woody plants.
  • Timber thinning was conducted to promote grass and forb growth as well as demonstrate different thinning methods.
  • Uplands are managed for white-tailed deer and wild turkey to provide hunting opportunities.
  • Pond is managed for largemouth bass, bream and migratory ducks to provide fishing and hunting opportunities.
  • Three nest boxes with predator guards were installed to increase cavity-nesting songbird production.
  • A box-type parallel bar barrier was installed on the pond's overflow pipe intake to retain grass carp and harvestable-size sport fish and to prevent debris from plugging the pipe.
  • Grass carp were stocked into the 3-acre pond to manage aquatic vegetation, which was excessive for sport fish management.


  • A 4,212-foot 2-strand, high tensile electric fence was installed for better grazing management and forage utilization.
  • Fiberglass posts were placed every 75 feet and as needed. T-posts were placed in low areas.
  • A 5-strand barbed wire fence serves as the perimeter fence.
  • Electricity is supplied by a solar-powered fence charger with a deep cycle marine battery.
  • Corner posts were constructed out of 2 -inch pipe.
  • Holding pen has a 350-foot 5-strand barbed wire perimeter fence.
  • Bermudagrass and native grass areas were separated with a 951-foot 2-strand polywire electric fence so these different forages could be managed independently and appropriately.
  • Total cost: $4,349 (fence materials: $3,900, charger: $340, marine battery: $109)


  • Rural water was installed for livestock and other needs.
  • Two-inch waterline supplies a 44 gallon, Mirafount 3390 2-ball waterer and freeze-proof hydrant.
  • Total cost: $2,803 (water meter: $1,800, 305 feet of 2-inch PVC pipe: $210, Mirafount waterer: $709, hydrant: $55 and concrete: $29)

Livestock Working Facilities

  • Working pens were purchased and installed.
  • Working pens include 22 panels (1.9-inch tubing, 10 feet long, 16 gauge), nine gates (1.9-inch tubing, 10 feet long, 16 gauge), 20-feet crowd alley (2-inch tubing, 14 gauge), headgate stand and headgate.
  • Corner posts are made from 2 -inch pipe.
  • Total cost: $11,100

Preconditioned Stocker Enterprise

  • Twenty preconditioned 775-pound stocker cattle were used. Areas dominated by bermudagrass were fertilized in 2013 and 2015 according to soil samples.
  • 2,4-D amine was used to control forbs/weeds in the bermudagrass dominated areas.
  • Livestock have access to graze 41 of the 63 grazeable acres.
  • Grazed from June 11 to Aug. 4, 2015 (for a daily gain of 1.8 pounds per day) to reduce annual cool-season grasses and introduce animal impact.

Steven Smith serves as a wildlife and fisheries consultant at Noble Research Institute, where he has worked since 2006. He received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries ecology and a master’s degree in rangeland management and ecology from Oklahoma State University. He grew up on small family cow/calf operation in central Oklahoma. His areas of interest are prescribed fire, especially growing season fires, and managing plant communities for livestock forage and wildlife habitat.