Managing Cattle In A Drought - From the Ground Up

Making a living in production agriculture can be tough, even when you get cooperation from Mother Nature, and trying to do it during a drought presents its own set of management challenges. Ashley Batey has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

“We’ve been in a drought for really three years. We had a pretty good summer, early summer last year, and we healed up some, but the two previous years were so bad that my management changed so much in those previous years that it’s almost like normal to me. I mean, that’s bad to say.”

Jerry Armstrong ranches in Lee County .

“We’ve had to drill two water wells and run over a mile of water line just to water cows that we’ve never had to worry about water before.”

And when there’s no grass in the pasture for grazing, cattle have to be fed.

“A lot of people are saying, well they need to get out and find their hay now, and I think that’s right but, the other thing though is can we afford to pay what hay’s gonna cost with diesel fuel and freight costing what it is, because the hay’s not going to be close.”

Armstrong says he’ll have to have some hay, and with feed ingredients as high as they are, he’s looking for feeding alternatives.

“We just have to look at everything that might be available and think outside the box a little bit and try to come up with a way to make it through this.”

With historically high input prices, managing a ranch can be difficult under normal weather conditions.

“Our margins are low to begin with and so you have to watch everything that you do anytime. The drought has just magnified that tremendously, but you know, we’re survivors. You know we might not be able to have a new truck or something for a few years, so whatever it takes, I’m probably going to do it, and I think I’m not alone in that regard. We just don’t know for sure what it is we’re going to have to do yet.”

I’m Ashley Batey, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our tables, From The Ground Up.

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