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Livestock Lessons Learned From the Drought

Rotational grazing and knowing what feedstuffs are available could pay off for livestock producers.

Many livestock producers heading into breeding, calving and grazing seasons have much to learn and apply from last year's drought, two Purdue Extension specialists say. While climatologists don't expect a repeat of last summer's extreme conditions, parts of the region are known for variable weather and milder late-season drought that can affect feed supplies.

"Producers need to start out the season knowing what is in supply," says Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist. "If there is any amount of hay or silage that's laid back, know the number of days' supply available in case you get in a pinch because of dry weather."

Rotational grazing and knowing what feedstuffs are available could pay off for livestock producers. Early spring also is a good time to evaluate grazing strategies. Both Johnson and Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager agreed that rotational grazing can keep pastures in better shape longer – whether conditions are stressful or not.

By dividing pastures into paddocks and rotating animals from one section to the next, producers are giving pastures a chance to recover between grazing sessions. Producers should be scouting pastures and alfalfa stands, as well, and deciding how they will revamp those that sustained damage from drought and overgrazing. Johnson says the earlier scouting is done, the better.

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