The Sonora A&M AgriLife Research Center promises a brilliant future tempered by the finest ranching traditions of an historic past.
On June 22, 1916, Substation 14, located on the Sutton and Edwards County line, was purchased with equal contributions from area ranchers and the Texas Legislature. Since then this research station has made significant returns on the initial investment to the livestock industry and to rangeland conservation.
Dr. Charles “Butch” Taylor – Professor and Research Station Superintendent
Nick Garza – Senior Research Associate
Robert Moen – Research Associate
Ismael Sanchez – Maintenance Worker I
Miguel Ibarra – Farm Worker I
NEIGHBOR MEETING NEIGHBOR FIELD DAYS:
• Devil’s River News (April 17, 2014)
• Ranch & Rural Living (June 2012)
SONORA PROJECT FOCUS:
SHEEP & GOAT BREED COMPARISON
(updated November 2009)
Pioneer Ranchers who helped establish the Sonora Station
The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, once know to ranchers as the Ranch Experiment Station and to Texas A&M University as “Substation” Number 14” got its start during the 1915 inaugural convention of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association in Del Rio. The year prior to the convention had been extremely dry in Sutton and Edwards Counties, and several ranching friends struggling through the drought found themselves mysteriously losing their livestock. These farsighted pioneers discussed the possibility of having an experiment station nearby to help them with ranch management problems. The idea quickly gained support from other ranchers and was soon adopted by the fledgling Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association.
The Association then mustered help from Texas A&M University and the Texas Legislature who quickly established the station later that same year between Sonora and Rock Springs.
- Composition and Utilization of Range Vegetation of Sutton and Edwards Counties – (Bulletin No. 586; published June 1940)
- An Economic Study of a Typical Ranching Area on the Edwards Plateau of Texas – (Bulletin No. 297; published July 1922)
- Early History of Substation No. 14 – (Vol. 7, No. 18; published June 1937)
- The Birth of Substation No. 14 – (as told by B.M. Halbert)
The station sprawls across 3,462 acres of native rangeland located atop the Edwards Plateau, in the heart of the greatest sheep range and Angora goat producing section of the country. Its charge is to study diseases, breeding and management of these animals under range conditions.
Research here has resulted in the development of a vaccine against contagious ecthyma (soremouth) of lambs and kids, discovery of swellhead in goats, identification of enterotoxaemia in lambs, and research in bluetongue, internal parasite control and many poisonous plant problems that affect both species.
Ranchers Roundup – 1924
Early animal science studies at Sonora have made a significant contribution to the ranching industry. The station was the first to pioneer Rambouillet ram and Angora buck performance testing. The ram performance test was initiated in 1949. Since then over 9,000 rams have been through the test. The ram test is the single most important element responsible for the upgrading of the Rambouillet flocks found on the Edwards Plateau. No finer Rambouillet flocks are found anywhere in the world today.
Modern Ram Test Animals
Early range research dealt with livestock foraging habits and range plant nutritive value. This research was followed by stocking rate and multi-species grazing studies, and the effects of grazing systems on livestock and vegetation production.
Typical Pre-Ram Test Animals – 1930
The Merrill four-pasture, three herd grazing system, named for its originator, Dr Leo Merrill, a longtime station superintendent, was developed here in 1949 and has since been adopted worldwide.
More recent Research has shifted to such topics as rangeland hydrology, white-tailed deer and domestic livestock interactions, ecology and biology of juniper and other woody plants, using pricklypear as forage, heritability of juniper consumption in goats and practical prescribed fire use.
White-Tailed Deer Research
Today, the station keeps an eye to the future while learning from its rich past. The facility has recently taken a bold new step that will empower Edwards Plateau landowners and managers with greater knowledge and managerial skills regarding their resources. This is being done through educational programs such as the popular “Academy for Ranch Management” and rancher organizations like the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burning Association
If you would like to learn more about the Sonora Experiment Station, Please feel free to call us or drop by any time during our regular working hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
We’re located just off State Highway 55 about 28 miles northwest of Rocksprings and 27 miles south of Sonora.
Come see us. We’d love to show you around!
P.O. Box 918
Sonora, TX 76950
(395 County Road 760)