Experts with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are advising beef cattle producers to use caution and strategic planning when thinking about restocking herds after drought. David Anderson, PhD, Texas AgriLife Extension livestock economist, says ranchers affected by drought need to ask themselves how long it will take for pastures to recover and what might happen later this summer.
Although moisture conditions have improved in some areas affected by last year’s drought, AgriLife Extension state forage specialist Larry Redmon, PhD, says producers should always consider the threat of drought. “My take is people should be stocked for drought at all times,” he says. “People can reduce the risk of potential drought and not have to worry about doing any buying and selling. If you have a good year, there are lots of ways to use that extra grass. You can’t feed your way out of a drought. You can easily spend more money trying than the operation can generate over several years.” Redmon says in a good year ranchers who have extra grass can either bale it, graze it or lease it out for grazing. “If you are completely destocked, stay out a year and let that pasture recover for a year before coming back in,” he says. “Overall, I just think it’s a little too soon to start restocking. I think producers need to be very cautious; remember, more is not always better.”
Anderson says from an economic standpoint, ranchers who decide to rebuild need a plan. “They need to think seriously about stocking rates and have some sort of plan,” he says. “Another thing they need to be looking at carefully is how much you fed last year and what feedstuffs you already have.”
For related information on restocking and herd rebuilding, visit MoreCowsNow.com.