The seemingly endless saga of what we will feed the critters in the U.S. and how much those feedstuffs might cost — extended to forages this year by the severe southern drought — continues. And while the situation regarding concentrate diets (i.e., those made up primarily of grains and protein meals) fed to simple-stomached animals carries a high price tag, the situation facing beef cow and stocker operations is, in many areas, critical.
USDA’s weekly Crop Progress update reported that 35% of the nation's range and pasture land was in either poor or very poor condition as of Sunday. That percentage is not all that out of the ordinary since the average for the same week over the last five years is 32.8%. But two features of the ratings are important.
- First, the percentage of failing pastures is much higher than last year, nationwide, only 14% of pastures and range.
- Second, the really serious situations are in those places that normally keep a large number of beef cows. The Southern Plains (comprised of Texas and Oklahoma) has an almost astonishing 89.5% of grazing lands rated in the two worst categories. Think about that.