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.
Consider Early Weaning
Note: Early weaned steers may reach slaughter weighs more quickly as well!
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:
Look at Alternative Feeds/Forages
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.