Many areas continue to face hardships due to the lack of precipitation. This fall brings hope for the end of drought conditions, but the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook suggests the drought will persist or intensify in many areas of the Southern Great Plains.
During periods of limited forage supplies, managing these resources to best meet animal requirements is one of the most important things a cow-calf producer can do. It is critical that producers evaluate the best way to supplement and stretch their forage resources to remain viable in this industry.
Unless we have an atypically wet summer, many producers will be forced to implement some drought management strategies, if they have not already. Here are a couple of topics to keep in mind looking forward to the remaining summer.
The National Drought Monitor Web site indicates the area is in either extreme or exceptional drought. As if not having adequate good-quality water for cow herds isn't bad enough, there is little to no available standing forage going into winter at a time of record-high hay prices.
Exceptional drought robbed pasture and range managers of the 2011 forage production they were counting on to get to the traditional winter feeding period. Thus, many are left trying to feed their way through this drought or destock to better match forage demand to forage availability.
Most producers are trying to survive the winter by stretching forage and feed resources. This can be accomplished with careful thought and consultation with a nutritionist to ensure that each cow's nutrient requirements are still being met for the stage of production it is in. If corners are cut to save money now, it can have long lasting repercussions.
This article provides management guidelines to benefit from ryegrass while encouraging bermudagrass recovery. While the focus is on ryegrass in bermudagrass, the same principles apply to other cool-season annuals in other warm-season perennial grasses.