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Proactive drought plans

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Big Swede

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I was just wondering what you in the drought areas are planning going forward. I hope to wean earlier than normal and probably sell feeders earlier too. I think my pastures will last if the cows are dry by early to mid September. I have never used creep feeders but I plan to this year and then wean with them using Purina Accuration.

Any ideas anyone wants to share? I'm always looking to learn from my rancher friends.
 

Jake

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We are planning on creep feeding to try to leave the calves with the cows as long as possible.

Contemplating ultrasounding this year so that we know a couple months sooner what needs wheels under it.
 

Denny

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Sorry about your drought's we had 2 1/2 inches about 1 am only lasted a 1/2 hour but it came down hard.I had a couple hundred bales on the ground most likely bale it on the 4th now.
 

per

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Various forms of destocking are my first strategy.

-early weening
-preg checking early and selling empties
-culling for all those traits I don't like... feet, bags, disposition etc.

Then move on to testing feed resources and make sure the protein and mineral content is up to par.

Move cows to a different area. (trucking could kill the economics and the cows would likely never come home as it would likely be more economical to sell them and replace them at home with local cattle when things return to normal)

I have never made it to creep feeding but that certainly is a strategy.

I am a firm believer that you can't afford to feed your way out of a drought.
 

Triangle Bar

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I'm planning on grazing my alfalfa fields. Some didn't get any water and others managed a first cut, so there will be some limited re-growth there. I figure that'll last to about the 10th of August, at which time I'lll have to wean the calves and start feeding the cows. Probably feed 'em for about 5 or 6 weeks and then I'll have some fall grazing on crop aftermath for hopefully 2 months. Then it will be back on the feed wagon, so I'm afraid that'll mean 1/2 or more will have to go to town.

I was thinking of using that blood test, Biopryn ?, for preg testing at a earlier stage.

If I could turn back the clock, I would have sold 1/2 of the herd back in February before they calved. March and April are usually our wettest months, so there was still hope but it turned out this was the driest spring in recorded history.
 

Jake

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Triangle Bar said:
I'm planning on grazing my alfalfa fields. Some didn't get any water and others managed a first cut, so there will be some limited re-growth there. I figure that'll last to about the 10th of August, at which time I'lll have to wean the calves and start feeding the cows. Probably feed 'em for about 5 or 6 weeks and then I'll have some fall grazing on crop aftermath for hopefully 2 months. Then it will be back on the feed wagon, so I'm afraid that'll mean 1/2 or more will have to go to town.

I was thinking of using that blood test, Biopryn ?, for preg testing at a earlier stage.

If I could turn back the clock, I would have sold 1/2 of the herd back in February before they calved. March and April are usually our wettest months, so there was still hope but it turned out this was the driest spring in recorded history.

We are fortunate to have plenty of feed to get through the winter and could actually probably handle another 50-75 cows through the winter. But I don't know that I could buy any and make any money on them with there being nowhere in the nation with surplus demand for the cows to send them after any value was added.
 

RSL

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I certainly feel for those going through drought this year. We have been through a few with '02 being near the worst (3/8" of rain from May 1 to Sept 30) and use some of the following strategies...

We always plan to keep some grassers (we calve later). If there is drought looming we get rid of these right away.

We graze very slowly in a drought. The dryer it is the slower we rotate pastures. We also purposely hammer our tame pastures to save our native pastures for later in the year. This has saved our bacon multiple times over.

We will feed longer in the spring during a drought and less in the winter. It lets the growing plants pull any moisture that is there into their growth.

We pump water - if it is dry enough to empty ponds and dugouts, pumping water basically increases the water supply by at least 1/3. Without fencing cows will take preference to drinking from a trough.

Pull the trigger quickly. If drought is looming, don't wait too long to reduce animal units.

It is cheaper to ship cows than feed. We have shipped cows out for winter care, and I agree with Per on trucking costs, however sometimes if your genetics are good and you average it over the whole herd it can be cheaper. Get references for where they are headed.

We have never creep fed. If you boost protein, then intake may also be raised and we are usually trying to stretch our grass out to a point where less intake is probably better.

Portable electric fence is fantastic. It makes oil leases, ditches and your yard grazeable ground.

Wean early - a cow feeding a calf takes more feed per pound of calf growth than a dry, second trimester cow and feeding the calf separately. We have had good luck with 150 day average weaning age.

Pray lots!

FWIW.
 

Shortgrass

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In 02, one neighbor sold all his cows, bought back better cows than he sold two years later, giving his grass a chance to heal also. That worked for him. I have seen the early weaning done a lot. In '02, I culled hard, then harder. Wound up with about 60% of what I had in '01. Borrowed, bought feed then next spring bought heifers to speculate with. Next spring no one was restocking yet, so rented more ground, kept the heifers. Sold them with their second calf at side, and got well with that. Kept the extra grass. Since I have kept lower numbers and more ground. I now hope and pray for a good year next year, but prepare for a drought. Some years, I have had lots of grass, and it just blew away, and was a loss. This year, I have needed every blade of it, and then some. My loss in grass is minor compared to what I would have lost in destocking this year. I did get a nice rain last night here at home. Praise the Lord! Need some on summer pastures, but maybe this week?? The monsoon is supposed to be active this week. Per's statement about not trying to feed your way out of a drought sounds like sound advice also. That "pray lots" RSL mentioned is critical!!
 

tenbach79

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We ran our cows on irragated tricale up until June 16 then turned everything out on grass. Grass is dry like everyone else but we went in about 30 days later than everyone around here. We could stay on longer when we take the calves off. Put creep feeders out and plan on weaning around the 1st of August. Its really looking like we might end up chopping all of our irragated corn so we might have some extra feed that way. Some is burining up and just not growing. There is even some corn that is trying to tassel around here which is about 4 weeks ahead. With that we might go and plant wheat on the corn ground and have some early pasture there.

But all those plans could change if we get some rain in the next few days or weeks. Next Monday they are calling for temps in the 80's which will be great we have had 100 deg temps for the last 12 days.

It's dry like 02' around here but its been the high temps thats hurting. We have gotten some rain but it doesn't last long with 100deg temps and 20mph winds. But every night we have had some clouds come along with a shot at some kind of rain. In 02' it never clouded up and even gave a hint of rain. Humidity is going up also which will help get that rain out of the clouds.
 

Big Swede

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I am about to start my second pass through my pasture rotation. Normally the regrowth is lush and tall this year not so much. However it is much better than continuous grazing would be. The take half leave half rule means there will be quite a bit of grass but it for sure won't last like normal.

The average age of my calves at weaning this year will be about 120 days. Calves are very efficient at that age and gain very well on not much feed. Cheaper than trying to supplement cows to milk enough for calves to continue to gain well.

I'm thinking corn harvest will be early this year so stalks will be available earlier too. That will help.

My oldest group of cows is 13 now so there will be plenty of culling opportunities. All in all we are doing much better than some.
 

leanin' H

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Like a lot of you all, i live in an area that always gets limited amounts of moisture. Drought is always on the horizon and usually in the rear view mirror as well, it's just how it goes. So we try to always carry over hay in the stackyard. We always keep an eye open for folks cleaning out last years hay crop to make room for this years. (Those people would be folks who live over near the big city east of here a ways that farm and don't run cows on the desert) :wink: Last years hay will fill up a cow even if the protein and other feed value isn't very good. Supplements then help fill the gap. We try to run smaller bunches of cows during a drought in each canyon and let them stay longer to go chase the feed up on the ridges and in the ledges. That also eliviates the water troubles when 100+ cows hit the trough at once. We ride often and watch the range closely, which we do anyway, because while we need to use it, we can't afford to damage it. Stewardship of the land is an almost sacred responsibility, because without it, we arent! Everything else is a lot like what others have mentioned, culling harder, early weaning, ect. I think what gets overlooked maybe is how important it is to have cattle that fit your program. A cow that will range out a ways chasing feed and trail to water and seem to keep her condition year after year is a KEEPER! She stays even if her calves weigh a little less or she's a tad high headed. She fits her enviroment and thats priceless. And one last thought........We even pray for rain in the winter! :D
 

Soapweed

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Take heart, Big Swede. Here is the weather forecast for Thursday night on www.wunderground.com.

Thursday Night

"Overcast with thunderstorms. Low of 64F. Winds from the East at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NNE after midnight. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 4.1 in. possible."

Don't the weather forecasters realize it is the Fourth of July coming up, and not April Fool's Day? :roll: :wink:
 

High Plains

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Big Swede said:
I was just wondering what you in the drought areas are planning going forward. I hope to wean earlier than normal and probably sell feeders earlier too. I think my pastures will last if the cows are dry by early to mid September. I have never used creep feeders but I plan to this year and then wean with them using Purina Accuration.

Any ideas anyone wants to share? I'm always looking to learn from my rancher friends.

Doing pretty much everything you mentioned, Big Swede.
 

loomixguy

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Supplement, wean early, and look for something besides Accuration. The price of corn makes it mighty spendy, when there are other options out there. Plus, that fish meal STANKS!!!




Oh, and bale anything that's not moving and dry enough to bale!
 

Hay Feeder

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Big Swede said:
I was just wondering what you in the drought areas are planning going forward. I hope to wean earlier than normal and probably sell feeders earlier too. I think my pastures will last if the cows are dry by early to mid September. I have never used creep feeders but I plan to this year and then wean with them using Purina Accuration.

Any ideas anyone wants to share? I'm always looking to learn from my rancher friends.

Do not use accuration. Purnias trick the more fish meal you use to limit intake the more expensive it costs, less feed intake but cattle go backwards. My experience using the 45 and 50 percent accuration costing 21.50 hwt.
Our season is just two months earlier. Rains will come this fall lol
Beware of cow buyers right now. We have a major regional auction here in south missouri that is capitalizing on their weekly cow sale as a TWO day sale this week. We need to remember that the buyers or salebarn owners have their own pastures in areas of the country where the rains have been comming and also feedlots.
One of the more traditional cattle buyers that run 4000 cows here are buying 4 weight heifers calves right now.
The spread of calves has to do with the heat age and bad eyes as well as poor genetics. Atleast that is what I see hear. Not listening to anyone is the best advice for us.
 

Faster horses

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What we have found when testing carry-over hay, is that it doesn't lose
much in the way of protein. The biggest loss is the quality (waste)
of the outside of the hay
(talking round bales) and if the hay is yellow, that means the
vitamins and minerals have leached out. They tested some hay
that was found in a barn in Billings~it was baled in 1947 as I recall
and it still tested close to 10% protein!!!

And remember, the cheapest protein supplement isn't always the most
cost-effective.

The BEST thing you can do is run a forage test on your hay to see if
it is necessary to supplement it. That $10-$25 test could save you
thousands of dollars!
 

katrina

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We have two weeks of pasture as of right now.. Left over silage that we can feed till we cut more.. And hay if we have too.. Corn is holding good in the fields as of now we have spring wheat yet to harvest. Winter wheat was around 35-40 bushel.... Sunflowers....... well they are a weed, so that says it all there...
 

3 M L & C

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Our pastures have been completely brown for a while now. I just run replacement heifers, so they don't have the stress of the calf. There isn't much for feed going to be around here. Most people have been waiting for a rain to plant the cane. Dryland is barely hanging on if you took care of your ground. We had quite a bit of rain last fall and our soil holds it pretty well. Most fields look decent from about 5 to 8 in the morning then they curl bad. We farm a lot of irrigated corn thats still doing well so the cattle will probably be eating corn bales this winter. We also screen some of the corn going into a couple of big bins if we plan to keep the corn for a long time so they will probably get some of that for part of the protein. We have a nice size field of milo right next to the wintering grounds to graze. Its dryland but milo can go a while and still make a crop I guess. We just started planting it again since they are starting to pay something for it. If it stays dry like this I don't know if they milo stalks will be safe to graze, if it burns up I mean.
 

loomixguy

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Faster horses said:
What we have found when testing carry-over hay, is that it doesn't lose
much in the way of protein. The biggest loss is the quality (waste)
of the outside of the hay
(talking round bales) and if the hay is yellow, that means the
vitamins and minerals have leached out. They tested some hay
that was found in a barn in Billings~it was baled in 1947 as I recall
and it still tested close to 10% protein!!!

And remember, the cheapest protein supplement isn't always the most
cost-effective.

The BEST thing you can do is run a forage test on your hay to see if
it is necessary to supplement it. That $10-$25 test could save you
thousands of dollars!

Everything you said is true, IF you have any carryover hay. Most everybody cashed in last year and took the big money for their hay. Big rounds of straw around here are now bringing $100/ton. Grass hay will be practically non-existant, and the only alfalfa worth a hoot will have been irrigated. Most folks around here who haven't began to supplement in the pastures will be in for a rude awakening PDQ.
 

gcreekrch

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In a dry year the cows and the discbine just get further into the swamps.

Calves will weigh heavier due to the grass hardening some.
 

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