The key to getting a cow/calf enterprise through dry conditions is to have a management plan. Develop strategies that deal with indirect economic and biological effects of to many animals for the available feed resources as well as direct effects of reduced water supply for plants and animals. Trying to feed the whole herd through a period of dry conditions with purchased feeds can be financial suicide, especially if the condition last for an exrtended period of time. Many strategies can be used to reduce forage demand. Management strategies can be subdivided into three categories: livestock inventory; use of existing forage resources; and alternative feeding programs.
Adjusting livestock inventory to reduce and balance total forage required with available forage supply usually is the most economical alternative. Individual production records come in handy to identify low producing females. Cull late calving cows, older cows, and less productive cows. Cull early to avoid selling when prices are low because everyone else is selling. Consider culling females that are in the bottom 15% to 20% of production for two to three years in succession. These females may be telling you that they don’t “fit” for some reason. If there is a time when individual records are valuable in management decisions, this is one.
Remove yearlings from pasture early and sell or drylot. One of the advantages of having a yearling enterprise along with a cow/calf enterprise is if pasture becomes limited, yearlings can be sold or moved to the feedlot and the calf making factory can be kept in tact.
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