As many cattle producers are struggling with drought, its important to also use the situation to help plan for the future.  Rangeland and Ecology specialist, Dr. Laura Goodman, said there are several key things producers need to consider when it comes to developing a plan to address drought now.


“If we can come up with our plans before we're in this state, that's ideal, and figuring out who we're going to cull, who are we going to keep. Also just fluctuating in your herd, maybe not only doing cow-calf but also maybe keeping a base herd and then supplementing when you have good years with lots of forage with retaining ownership of weaned calves or purchasing stockers, some other way to use that forage without having to fluctuate our cow herd quite so much during drought.”


Another option, she noted, is multi-species grazing.


“So, mixing goats in pastures with our cattle, and that kind of provides a twofold benefit that we can use some of the woody plants that stay green during drought for much longer. And then, you know, they're just worth quite a bit right now, the five-year average for 40 to 60 pound kids is $2.80 a pound, and so all those things help when thinking about the long-term profitability.”


Goodman said for those who have already sold animals, whether that number is large or small, now is the time to start thinking about a restocking once the drought is over.


“I think we can learn a lot from the 2011 and 2012 drought because it looks like things are going to be fairly similar and prices are going to be high again after we are out of this. Also just long term- trying to think about strategies for stockpiling so that you don’t have to destock to the same degree, and also just having flexibility in the number of animals that are on your pastures as much as possible.”


Goodman also talked about a new tool called the Rangeland Analysis Platform, a free webpage producers can visit to outline their pastures and identify where they are at relative to how much forage they normally produce.  Goodman said it’s a great tool for those trying to make culling or restocking decisions.


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