Mitigating Drought Challenges: How early weaning could help

Early weaning in your herd could help you mitigate the ongoing drought.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says through early weaning, studies show a 10 percent increase in marbling development and an uptick in food efficiency by 5 percent. This could be a good alternative to culling the herd due to lack of forage supplies, because when calves are being taken off the cow, her nutritional requirements decline, meaning she eats less grass and hay.

Early weaning may be a good practice for producers in Oklahoma, as forage and water supplies are limited from the ongoing drought.

As you can see on the latest drought monitor, more than 80 percent of the state remains in some level of drought, with the majority covered in severe to extreme levels.

Due to those conditions, total hay production in Oklahoma was down 26 percent on the year, which is the lowest level recorded since 2012. The final crop production report for 2022 showed 80 percent of pasture and ranges in the state were rated poor to very poor. To top it all off, livestock water in ponds is low in the majority of the state due to lack of rainfall. In turn, this has led to a 11 percent drop in Oklahoma’s total cattle inventory.

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