Even with the rains during the fall of 2011, much of Oklahoma and Texas is still under drought advisories. Long-term forecasts are not promising for abundant rainfall during the spring or summer of 2012.
With the challenges of the drought, the beef cow inventory declined 3.1 percent for an annual inventory of 2011 and prospects for further decline are evident unless changes occur in cow slaughter and heifer retention. With this decline, the 2012 U.S. calf crop stands at 35 million head, the lowest in 60 years.
Cattle producers should be on watch for two types of poisoning during drought. The potential for nitrate and prussic acid poisoning of cattle is most often associated with dry periods; therefore, livestock owners should take precautions, including forage testing. Often the first indication of a problem is one or more dead animals.
In most years, winter pasture would be planted by Sept. 1 and some fields would be turning green at the start of October. However, throughout southern Oklahoma and northern Texas in 2011, this may not be the case because of the drought.
To maintain profitable operations in today's volatile times all agricultural producers must remain flexible. They must delay final production decisions as they gather and assess information from throughout the world that affects the profitability of their enterprises.