Grazing Worries: The need for more rain to make up for a dwindling hay supplies
“As we have drought, roots die because you can’t just get enough moisture, and so in the spring of the year, we have to have some roots to bring it up, right? And so, if you graze it off real short, real fast, it has to use those roots again to put up new shoots, and so you can really weaken the grass if you’re not careful. So, you want to give it time,” says Randy Saner.
Saner recommends producers wait until June before turning out livestock in pastures, but many cannot afford to do so due to a lack of hay supplies.
“People are running out of hay and trying to find it. I mean, that’s the challenge. A lot of our hay is coming out of South Dakota, they had a lot of rain. So, there’s quite a bit of hay in South Dakota, it’s a ways to bring it in. And the other thing is people are using corn stock bales and distillers, and that works pretty good. We’re seeing quite a bit of dirt in some of the corn stock bales. When you get a lot of dirt in there, that means that dirt weighs and it doesn’t give you any benefit from a nutrition standpoint, and that can be a challenge. But there’s still some corn stocks out there, and don’t forget, as calves get bigger, they need feed, too,” says Saner.
The Extension Educator hopes the incoming El Niño weather cycle will improve pastures and take away the demand for hay.