Cattle herds could be shrinking due to drought

A Texas A & M AgriLife Extension expert says southern beef producers should be planning ahead when it comes to the size of their herds, should the drought continue. Jason Banta says a shortage of forage and hay might mean producers would need to reduce their herd sizes. A plan to cull their herds could save producers money in both the short term and long term. There wasn’t a lot of hay carryover from last year. Because of the drought, this year’s first alfalfa cutting, which is typically one of the best, was below average. The second cutting was also below normal in both quantity and quality. Hay stocks are also low in several other states like Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri. Banta says producers should adjust their stocking rates to avoid overgrazing pastures. “It’s probably a good idea to have plans on how to reduce herd numbers to save some forage supplies and reduce the need for hay in the winter,” Banta says. He adds that producers should also be mindful of cow body condition, as keeping weight on easier than recovering lost pounds. Banta also says producers may want to wean calves one to two months earlier than normal to help keep cows in better shape going into winter.

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