For cattle producers, drought always presents a major challenge, but there are ways to get through it and survive another year.
Last summer, Texas and Oklahoma producers struggled with drought and can offer some advice on lessons learned. One ranch is Taylor Made Ranch near Wolfe City, Texas, who offered some advice on lessons learned last year. "Watch the grass and wean the calves early if possible to aid both calf and cow condition, buy hay early when it's still semi-available and reduce stocking numbers early. Damage from the drought is not only the current year, but damage to pastures complicates things in subsequent years as well."
Cattle-Exchange's Frank Loschke, who raises cattle in Kansas, agrees and says that they should have let some pastures sit idle instead of grazing early on so that there would be grass available once the drought started. Now, those drought stressed pastures will require more time to bounce back once rains return.
Loschke also adds that now's the time for cattlemen and cattlewomen to use their "network" to seek out help during drought. "Make that tough call to fellow cattle producers you know and ask for help. Seek out alternative locations to preserve the cowherd."
Culling is always a wise strategy during drought. As economical feed resources dwindle, remove the older cows and poor producers and wean calves early to sell. While you may take a hit on price, since many areas are starting to see drought forced liquidation, in the long run it's better to remove the animals now than spend too much money on feed in hopes of higher cattle prices later.
Here are some online resources to help deal with drought: