Helping mitigate the effects of drought on your operation is possible with some foresight and early action. While drought impacts can suddenly hit, dryness doesn’t come overnight. Producers need to be tracking long-term precipitation, particularly around October. Tracking from October to March and comparing those levels with long-term averages from the National Weather Service can give you a gauge of where your water table might sit come summer and fall.
Additionally, producers are encouraged to follow the 80:20 stocking rule. To feed through a drought, cow-calf ranchers can figure their standard cow carrying capacity in an average rainfall year and then stock cows to about 80% of that. Then the remaining 20% of pasture can carry over some calves and offer flexibility. Producers can also plan to invest in a water system such as infrastructure for more remote and water-risk pastures.
And, like every cattle producer should be doing, rotational grazing will help make your range land go further.
While not drought insurance, producers can help protect their operation from a lack of precipitation with Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) insurance.
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