considerations for grazing drought pastures

Recent Moisture Helps…If It Continues

Though recent moisture makes it tempting, producers need to be careful about grazing pastures too hard. Any lost forage production during the critical growing season over the next three months will jeopardize prospects for the remainder of the year.

Though welcome, recent moisture [4] in drought-stricken areas could turn into fool’s gold if producers get over-eager and Mom Nature stoppers the rain.

“Many producers have squeaked through the winter with minimal hay supplies and have no forage reserves at this time. However, the minimal moisture available [5] at this time is almost worse than nothing,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, in his weekly market comments. “Producers who graze early pasture growth run the risk of further damaging already-stressed pastures [6]. Pastures must have some time to grow and recuperate before more grazing pressure is applied.”

In Peel’s neck of the woods, drought conditions improved significantly over the past few months. But, he points out any lost forage production [7] during the critical growing season over the next three months will jeopardize prospects for the remainder of the year.

“Producers need to think beyond the next 30 days and develop a plan [8] for the rest of the year,” Peel says. “Additional herd culling is a painful prospect to contemplate but it is important to realistically assess the situation and make needed decisions early rather than drag on and risk more long-term damage to the forage resources. Early-weaning [9]calves is a viable strategy for many producers who can reduce the pressure on feed needs by selling additional cows soon and developing a grazing or dry-lot program to hold calves for additional weight gain.”

 

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