Drought management: How long can you hang on?
Posted on: Sep 26, 2012
When managing livestock during a drought, it is important to consider forage reserves. Ranchers should set aside some forage to serve as backup in case grazed pastures run short. Often, poor pasture planning leads to crisis management, where destocking must occur, resulting in lost revenue and unplanned expenses. Ensure that adequate pasture forage is set aside in reserve to provide adequate decision-making time.
How do you create a reserve?
The question is not, "How many acres do you have in reserve?" Rather, a better question is, "How long can you hang on?" When considering forage reserves, consider time versus acres. Instead of setting aside a certain number of acres, set aside grazing days as your means of survival. Do you need 14 days of pasture in reserve? 30 days? 150 days? Each ranch will be different, so no prescribed answer exists to this question. The take home message: It is important to have a certain number of grazing days in reserve in case your planned pastures run short of forage.
See here for calculating animal days of forage in pastures.
Next week, we'll discuss creating forage reserves in specific pastures versus scattering reserve forage through multiple pastures.