Pasture conditions in many areas of Michigan are deteriorating fast. The calendar is near July 1 and many beef operations are seeing significant pasture stress. The dry spring resulted in below normal subsoil moisture and the subsequent rains in June have been 25-75 percent less than normal in the Lower Peninsula. Above normal temperatures are adding to the evaporation loss resulting in pasture growth reductions. In some areas, pests such as armyworm and grasshoppers are further reducing pasture production setting the stage for significant loss of grazing days in July-Aug.
Leaving cattle on pastures during drought will significantly reduce re-growth. Keep a close eye on the pasture conditions and prepare to pull livestock from the pasture rotation and begin drylot feeding when necessary. The key will be acquiring surplus stored feeds to provide adequate nutrition to the cow herd based on each cow’s nutritional requirements. Consider all feedstuffs and run some beef cow rations to make certain lactation and fertility are not compromised. If drought conditions persist, creed feeding the calves should be considered.
Planning now will allow for pasture management decision that will benefit your operation when the rains return and meet nutritional requirements of both cows and calves during drought conditions. For more information on drylot management for beef cows, visit the North Dakota State University website.