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Beef Buzz News

Historically Poor Pasture Conditions to Hit Beef Supplies Ahead

Wed, 11 May 2022 11:31:19 CDT

Historically Poor Pasture Conditions to Hit Beef Supplies Ahead As we enter May, the latest national crop progress report shows over 50% of pasture and range conditions are rated poor to very poor. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays talks about how these conditions are impacting cattle producers with Oklahoma State University's Extension Specialist for Livestock Marketing, Derrell Peel.

"This is by far the worst conditions we have started on in terms of this particular day in this series," Peel said. "Only once before have we ever started the May reporting of these pasture and range conditions with more than 40% poor to very poor."

The last time was actually last year, Peel said, and only one time before that, in 2013, have we ever started with more than 30% in the poor to very poor category.

"We started the very first week with, I think, 56% of the country in poor to very poor conditions," Peel said. "So obviously, we are starting in a really big hole in terms of the drought conditions that we have and where we go from here."

When you start the spring with drought conditions, Peel said you typically do not have a lot of carryover hay supplies, particularly since we had so much drought last year in a lot of regions.

"So, you really have nothing to work with and if you don't get any forage production at all at the beginning of the year," Peel said.

Peel said in this case it could be an entire year before things improve.

"You have very little flexibility," Peel said. "You have nothing to work with, to begin with."

Peel said we face considerable prospects for a significant reduction in the herd this year in relative terms because of the widespread conditions.

"Now, obviously in parts of Oklahoma, we got some rain last week," Peel said. "That is going to help in some regions."

There will be sporadic improvements in some areas, Peel said, so it will be a continuum. The bottom line, Peel added, is that we have drought in so many regions that it is almost unavoidable that we are going to see a significant amount of herd liquidation in 2022.

"It would take significant improvement in what we see and where we are today with these pasture and range conditions to be anything less than that," Peel said. "It is way too early to tell how it all plays out."

In some cases, Peel said producers will make efforts to relocate some cows to regions that don't have a drought.

"There will be sporadic changes and marginal improvements in some of these areas that may allow some of these guys to get by, but I think it is very likely that we will see at least upwards of a 3% decrease, and it could certainly go higher than that," Peel said.

Peel said we have seen some improvements through the center part of the state with this last week of storms, but the pasture conditions get better the further east you go.

"Moving cows is not something we will do a huge amount of, but in some cases, it might be an option for some people," Peel said. "In general, those areas that we would try to move cows into probably already have a pretty full load, so there will be a certain level of pasture availability in those regions, but it wouldn't be able to absorb a huge influx of additional cows, more than likely, in those regions."

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Dr. Peel on pasture and range conditions impacting cow herd numbers going forward.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is 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.



Listen to Derrell Peel talk on pasture and range conditions impact on cow numbers
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