Drought continues to plague growers and livestock producers in parts of Missouri, especially in the southwest corner of the state, raising concerns about feed availability.
“It’s a perfect storm of high fertilizer prices, reduced fertilization of pastures lending to lower hay yields and drought in the southern half of Missouri,” said Eric Bailey, University of Missouri Extension state beef specialist. “Folks are eating into their winter hay supplies.”
MU Extension has posted recent videos featuring livestock specialists who address how producers can manage their herds in drought conditions this fall and into the winter:
Cattle Culling Strategies. Bailey notes that drought-induced culls can be beneficial because culling forces decisions and management. “Producers who last longest in cow-calf businesses are not those who make the most money in good years. They are those who lose the least in bad years,” he said.
Weaning Cattle in Times of Drought. In this video, Bailey discusses early weaning strategies. Cow nutrient requirements drop by 40% when calves are weaned. That means every 2.5 days a calf is weaned saves the producer a day of feed for a cow, said Bailey. “Body condition score management is important, especially when feed is limited or poor quality.”
Do I Feed Through Drought or Sell Cows Now? MU Extension field specialist in agricultural business Wesley Tucker says any market comes down to supply and demand. He urges producers to calculate their costs of production and their breakeven beyond 2022. “We have seen some costs come down a little, such as fertilizer and fuel, but the reality is I don’t believe any of these are going back to pre-pandemic levels, especially on items like equipment,” he said.
MU Extension regional agronomy and livestock specialists are available to help cattle producers plan for the winter months as they navigate drought conditions.
The videos are part of MU Extension’s “Forage & Livestock Hour,” which is live-streamed twice a month via Zoom, with recordings of past sessions available on YouTube.
See all videos at this link.