Page 9 - MWC 9-15-2022s2
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The Midwest Cattleman · September 15, 2022 · P9
        STRATEGIES FOR DROUGHT MANAGEMENT ON PASTURES                                                                          By Greg

         During a drought, little  to reduce stocking during a
      can be done to increase for- drought accelerates financial
      age pasture growth. Prop- losses of the livestock produc-
      er management, however,  tion enterprise.
      can minimize impacts when             — Grazing management:
      drought does occur, according  Lack of moisture suppress-
      to a Texas A&M AgriLife Ex- es plant growth and retards
      tension Service forage special- root development.  Allow 6-8
      ist  and  Texas A&M AgriLife  inches of new growth before
      Research agronomist.               allowing livestock to graze. A
         Vanessa      Corriher-Olson,
      Ph.D., Overton, and Jamie                       continued on page 15
      Foster, Ph.D., Beeville, said
      careful management early in
      a drought can minimize long-
      term stand damage and help
      maintain forage yields when
      rains do come.
         If pastures are managed
      properly during times of
      low moisture, the effects of
      drought will be less severe
      and pastures will rebound
      faster  when  precipitation  is
      sufficient, they said. Manage-
      ment practices that minimize
      damage to pastures during
      drought are also the same for
      maintaining healthy pastures
      in a normal year.
      Pasture management
      practices and guidelines
         Corriher-Olson and Fos-
      ter outlined some key areas
      where proper management
      can make a difference.
         — Managing livestock: Re-
      duce stocking rates if forage
      supplies are limited. First,
      cull  cows  that  are  old,  open,
      in poor condition or have poor
      disposition. A  veterinarian
      can palpate cows for pregnan-
      cy and check for health prob-
      lems that warrant elimina-
      tion from the herd. Cows that
      are not pregnant are difficult
      to justify feeding expensive
      hay or grazing. Moving cattle
      to leased grazing lands where
      forage is available is an option
      to relieve stressed pastures
      without selling off a portion of
      the herd.
         Another option is early
      weaning and sale of calves.
      This reduces the stocking
      pressure and the nutrient re-
      quirement of the cows — re-
      ducing forage intake by 20%
      — because the heavy nutri-
      ent demand of lactation is
      stopped. The longer decisions
      to decrease livestock numbers
      are delayed, the sooner the
      forage supply will be exhaust-
      ed. Delaying the decision
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