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How Are You Managing Your Cattle In This Drought?

Cheramie Viator Drought stressed pasture

It’s hard to ignore the impacts the drought is having on farmers and ranchers across the country. Corn is being cut for silage, cows are already being fed winter forage supplies, pastures have dried up, and forest and grass fires are quickly devouring acres of land. And there’s little relief in sight. As a result, producers have to make adjustments to their usual management plans.

‘When cattle are sold out of desperation, the producer loses. If you have not begun to make contingency plans, start now,” advises Phil Osborne, animal husbandry specialist, and Wayne R. Wagner, livestock specialist, both with the West Virginia Extension Service.

“You certainly want to avoid feeding hay before the winter season begins, especially if you know your hay crop is going to be below normal. Even with early conservation, most producers will need additional feed for cattle. Is it possible to make it? The answer is yes, if you plan and make the necessary adjustments. Several small things can be done that collectively can conserve your feed resources.”

Wagner and Osborne list several ideas to consider, including:

  • Consider early-weaning calves.
  • Value the hay crop you do have and plan to get the most you can out of it.
  • Consider sending replacement heifers to a feedlot for development, so you can divert their feed/hay use to the cowherd.
  • Consider culling poor producers.
  • Consider feeding alternative feeds.
  • If the opportunity exists, move cows to feed vs. shipping feed to cows.

To read more about these suggestions, click here.

This week’s poll asks, “How are you coping with the drought?”

With 77 votes in so far, 66% of you are culling cows; 51% are weaning calves early; 36% are buying feed; and 23% are moving cows to feed.

Vote in our poll here.

What are your plans? How are you managing your cowherd during this drought?

TAGS: Disaster
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