Summer-annual grasses provide excellent forage during the summer. Small grains can be mechanically harvested as silage or hay and can ease fall or spring. pastures during drought can further weaken plants. Grazing during times of low moisture, the effects of drought will Lack of adequate forage during drought. Semi-dormant alfalfa varieties have been heavily promoted and widely adopted, as part of an effort to maximize forage production during the upper Midwest’s.

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A severe and sustained drought is stressful to the grazing herd, forage crops, and herd manager. A manager can use certain tactics within his management strategy, however, to minimize the short-term effects of mild drought.

All too often, however, decisions made to limit short-term effects do not take into consideration the long-term consequences of those decisions when the drought lasts for several weeks or months. Make proactive management ofrage in order to minimize damage from sustained drought stress. This brief management guideline provides producers with specific management tactics that may minimize the potential for short- and long-term problems.

These tactics, categorized in order of early, advanced, and severe drought stages, are based on specific characteristics including water loss, forage growth, and rainfall. If rainfall has not replenished what has evaporated after several days of such a high demand, the soil may not contain enough water to keep up with the demand.

As a result, plant growth slows. If forage growth slows, reduce the stocking rate and begin to look at the price of alternative feedstuffs that could supplement existing forage reserves.

Examine your herd records to determine which animals would be most likely to yield a long-term return on the money invested in hay and supplement.

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Review or develop a prioritized list of animals to retain in the herd and of animals to cull ex: As the drought becomes more advanced, forage species begin to go dormant. Eirig alone rarely kills forage species, but overgrazing forages during this stressful stage can cause persistence problems. Poor persistence leads to weed encroachment and soil erosion, which can be costly to the producer in the future.

Therefore, it is important to restrict access to the entire pasture. This will limit damage from overgrazing to specific areas instead of your entire pasture.

Using Sweet Bran instead of forage during grain adaptation in finishing feedlot cattle.

Allow only limited access to the rest of your pasture for brief periods. Carefully examine the costs associated with feeding hay and supplements.

Develop a ration based on available feeds and forage supplies, and provide just enough to maintain moderate body conditions ex: Dry females have their lowest nutritional needs in early to mid pregnancy. Early weaning is a strategy used to maintain brood animals on poor quality forage with little or no supplemental feed, allowing the producer to stretch available feed.

Using Sweet Bran instead of forage during grain adaptation in finishing feedlot cattle.

Early weaning and pasture supplementation strategies for beef cattle are presented in Drought Management Strategies for Beef CattleUniversity of Georgia Extension Bulletin You should view forage and supplements djrig investments, especially during a drought.

Producers should invest only in animals that are likely to generate a return and should focus on those animals that will provide the highest returns. Carrying open, old, or unproductive animals through a drought is unlikely to be feasible.

As the drought worsens, prices for culled animals will drop quickly. Pay close attention to the long-range weather forecasts and the current market.

Forage Use and Grazing Herd Management during a Drought

foragge Do not hesitate to lower the population early rather than too late. If no drought relief is in sight, sell low priority animals before the market price declines sharply. Using an up-to-date forage and feedstock inventory, calculate exactly how many animals if any that the operation can feasibly carry through the drought.


Even if a drought-ending rain is in the forecast, make sure that plans account for pasture recovery time. If grazing begins before a sufficient re-growth has occurred, this additional stress will prevent the plant from accumulating reserves for future regrowth and will cause further thinning of stands.

Furthermore, toxic compounds like nitrates or prussic acid may be present in high concentrations following a drought. Herd management during a drought may not prevent short-term losses, but can prevent long-term losses to the forage-based livestock operation. As drought sets in, the herdsman can temporarily lower stocking densities fewer grazing animals per acrestretch available forage with hay or supplemental feedstuffs, or even lower the nutritional needs of animals.

Forage Species|UT Beef and Forage Center

Yet, such tactics may only be cost-effective for a short time. Keep in mind that culling of animals may be necessary as the drought worsens. Classes, Workshops, and Club Meetings UGA Extension offers a wealth of personalized services like workshops, classes, consultation, certifications, camps, and educator resources. Find out what Extension has for you! Extension Changes Georgia University of Georgia Cooperative Extension programming improves people’s lives and gets results. Contact your local UGA Extension office to find out how our team of county agents can assist you.