Home Climate and Grazing Time to Talk Drought. Again. (Apologies to those in the floods in...

Time to Talk Drought. Again. (Apologies to those in the floods in the Northeast)

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Let’s start with a bit of data. About 41% of the U.S. cattle inventory, 31% of hay acreage, and 33% of alfalfa hay acreage are in an area experiencing drought. You can check out the maps here.

Drought is not an “if” thing. It’s a “when” thing. So hopefully, you have a drought plan that you can pull out and use. And to give you a hand with that, this week’s collection of articles has info on managing your forage, finding alternative sources of feed, and more.

Drought Management Planning

Let’s start with some advice from Dallas Mount of Ranching for Profit and Ranch Management Consultants. He provides the basics for a drought management plan. I added a link to a free downloadable ebook with more informaition.

This Year’s Drought – How Much Will it Cost You?

Consider Early Weaning

Note: Early weaned steers may reach slaughter weighs more quickly as well!

Early Weaning During Drought is Good For Cows, Calves, and Producers

Take Care of Your Resources

In his most recent edition of “Grazing Bites,” Victor Shelton says, “Forage growth slump periods can usually be managed around.  Maintain soil cover and good stop grazing heights to keep that solar panel working and retaining as much moisture as possible and reducing evaporation. Don’t overgraze it – grazing the snot out of it isn’t going to help anything. If you are that low in forages to graze, then you probably need to look seriously at animal numbers and/or move animals to a dry lot and feed them to let the pastures recover.”

Excellent advice! And here’s some more about how to manage forages:

Saving Money, and Protecting Soil and Forage Health During Drought and High Hay Prices

Look at Alternative Feeds/Forages

Limit Feeding Corn With Forage an Option to Get Through Drought

Feed Alternatives When Drought Puts a Halt to Forage Production

Be Flexible!

We finish off with an article from John Marble and how he managed a grazing season of drought, then too much rain and then fire. It’s a great lesson on the importance of flexibility and the importance of relationships.

Grazing Through Drought, Too Much Rain, and Fire

And the funnies!

This Chicken Plays America the Beautiful on the Keyboard!

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Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.