My View From The Country

The Drought Dilemma

Drought is a dilemma that no cattleman can escape.

I think there’s something particularly cruel about drought, because it works its damage in such an extended time frame. I spoke this week to a young producer who had purchased cows and grass and had made his first real big leap in the business.

His timing looked good and he had written the first big checks for leasing pasture land. The problem is that if it doesn’t rain in the next two weeks, he will have to pull cattle off all that grass he leased and start liquidating. He can survive the cow liquidation portion, but will likely not be able to recover from leasing grass he will never use.

Already in that country, the marginal cows have been sorted off and are heading to town. Plans are being made for early weaning and other ways to extend the grazing season. And with hay prices at historically high levels, the decision on whether to feed or sell has already been made for most producers. As one rancher told me, every decision has already been made. There are just two questions – will it rain, and how long can I wait to find out.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 8, 2012

Drought Here in Southwestern Ill. we are headed into it on a down hill run pastures are starting to look like it is Sept. not the first of June

Larry Deen (not verified)
on Jun 8, 2012

It has been drier than normal the pass couple of years in our area in Louisiana. We did get some relief this winter and rye grass pastures done well. We had to sell down on the herd last year and did not put much hay up either. Thank God for the early spring because I was down to the last round bale. Rains have few and far between so for.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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