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Beef Buzz News

Rains Offer Game Changing Conditions for Cattle Producers

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 05:48:44 CDT

Rains Offer Game Changing Conditions for Cattle Producers Above-normal temperatures and recent rains are proving a game changer for cattle producers all across the state. Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, says that these quickly-changing weather conditions will impact producers- we feature comments from Dr. Peel in our midweek Beef Buzz. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of the story to hear his comments on how producers may be able to respond to drought ending in central and eastern Oklahoma.

Recent weather and the calendar ensure that spring will happen in a significant part of the drought region in the Southern Plains. Unusually warm temperatures, additional rain, and the approach of April have changed the prospects for much of eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas. Soils are saturated in much of the region and green up is occurring rapidly. Cool season forages are virtually assured early forage and hay production. Warm season forages need a little more time but the prospects look favorable at this time.

These changes are reflected in the latest Drought Monitor map, which shows continued improvement in the region. Even more dramatic are the changes in the latest Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. The Drought Outlook for the next three months shows significant drought easing in much of central and eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas with some improvement in a band just west of this area. However, my recent travels across the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico confirm that drought conditions remain very severe in these regions farther west.

Producers in the improved area can begin planning for recovery. The first consideration should be to understand the condition of pastures and develop a management plan for forage recovery. Introduced forages likely have the ability to recover faster with moisture and adequate fertilization. Native range pastures, which may have been more heavily damaged by the drought will, in any event, require longer grazing deferment and careful management to recover.   

Additionally, producers who partially or totally destocked during the drought can begin thinking about the timing and the type of animals for rebuilding.   Producers, for whom stockers is an alternative, should evaluate using stockers initially even if cow-calf production is the ultimate goal. Stockers may provide more flexibility to adjust stocking rate and grazing duration to fit limited forage situations. Stocker heifers provide flexibility to retain for breeding or sell if grazing and hay resources are insufficient to retain all of the heifers. There are many possibilities for drought recovery and producers should consider the condition of forage resources, financial implications of restocking, market conditions, and tax implications among other factors. Most importantly, producers should recognize that, in many cases, the forage, financial and market conditions all suggest that recovery from the 2011 will be a multi-year process that requires a carefully considered plan.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the listen bar below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with OSU Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel
right-click to download mp3


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