I know it's rainy this week in much of Missouri but up until the last few weeks we weren't doing well on water. The forecast for the spring and summer is dry and hot -- yes, just a forecast but it doesn't hurt to prepare. Debi Kelly was at the North Central SARE Coordiantors Meeting listening to reports from the SARE train the trainer grant recipients when one mentioned drought. Then she read the following from an MU extension newsletter and felt it was worth sharing with you. (Blog posted by Mary Hendrickson.)
Last August I toured a portion of south central Kansas on one of the hottest weeks of the summer. At one ranch on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, our ranch host spoke about his operation’s “drought plan.” He didn’t go into great details, but it did make me think about whether any southwest Missouri cattlemen had a well-thought out plan in case of a drought.
I’m not a weather forecaster, but the way our weather has gone since last June maybe we all need a drought plan for 2012. Here are a few basic suggestions for your plan:
Lease pasture or hay land if it’s convenient and available.
Consider selling older, less productive cows. Look at your records. Cull cow prices are attractive.
Management intensive grazing systems improve forage utilization. They need to be started early in the grazing season.
Wean early and sell calves after they reach an acceptable weight. Yes, selling a light weight (under 500 lbs.) for $2 per pound sounds good but try to add more pounds economically. Heavier cattle are the ones making the most total dollars.
Store as much hay under cover as possible. If you store outside, review my tips from last month’s letter.
Buy hay early if necessary.
Buy by-products in large quantities (DDGS, CGF and soy hulls) and store if the price is right. Consider
partnering with neighbors if you can’t use a whole trailer load.
We all hope for a “normal” summer and there is some promise, but the way the spring is taking off it is a cause for concern to most farmers I visit with.
(by Eldon Cole, Livestock Specialist, Beef Newsletter, March 2012)