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Understanding Texas’ range laws

| Feb 1, 2020 | Uncategorized |

If you’re a rancher, you likely want to give your livestock as much space to graze as possible. In most cases, your animals will stay within their grazing area. But on occasion, one may slip loose and end up on someone else’s property – or free.

By fencing in your livestock, you may consider your problem solved. Yet your city or county’s range laws could lead to consequences if your animals stray from your property. Range laws exist as measures to allow free grazing, with restrictions. If you’re unfamiliar with them, knowing these laws can help you next time your livestock go on an adventure.

Open range grazing

By law, Texas is an open range state. Thus, livestock and other domestic animals can roam free so long as they remain on their owner’s property. Open range statutes do not hold the landowner responsible for ensuring their animals stay on their ranch. But open range operations do require fencing that will keep livestock from leaving the property. And if someone finds animals from an open range operation roaming the state’s highways, their straying can lead to misdemeanor charges for their owner.

Closed range grazing

Individual municipalities in Texas have adopted closed range grazing laws. Towns and counties have had the option to enact legislation that modifies – and often tightens – open rage statutes since 1876. Thus, closed range ordinances vary from place to place. Livestock in these zones still have grazing freedom. But their owner is responsible for preventing them from escaping onto roadways and other properties.

Texas’ grazing laws are not too restrictive. Consulting with your local sheriff’s office can help you determine if you live in an open or closed range municipality. And working with an attorney who has ranch law experience can help you if your livestock run afoul of your property, making you run afoul of the law.

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