Patience, Planning & Pasture Rehabilitation: Specialists urge caution when expanding herds post-drought

When the much-needed rain finally arrives for cattle country, cattle specialists with the Noble Research Institute are urging producers to hold back when it comes to herd expansion.

Pastures and range land have been through the wringer with this year’s drought, and specialists say the land needs a little more time and restoration before it can properly support higher herd numbers.

Avoid Overstocking

Experts with the Noble Research Institute (NRI) are urging producers to hold back when it comes to herd expansion once much-needed rain finally arrives for cattle country,

NRI specialists recommend making sure your land does not become overstocked — meaning, at the end of the growing season, the land should be able to support cattle foraging until spring. To do this, they suggest a two-fold approach before determining how much to expand your herd:

First, perform a soil test to be sure your pastures have what they need nutrient-wise. Once soil amendments are adjusted, turn your attention to re-evaluating your financial situation — mainly, considering if you have the financial flexibility to supply a larger herd with hay if a drought continues or worsens in the coming year. Taking into account that extreme heat and drought may also cause further inflation of producer input costs.

Sustainable Herd Building

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has some additional suggestions on how to care for your land and cattle after expanding the herd.

The Grazing Management Plan Development Module is an effort to protect operations, while also helping producers reach their herdbuilding goals. You can download the template and customize it to your operation’s needs. The plans have been proven to make an operation more profitable by lowering input costs, decreasing natural resource use, improving herd health, and reducing reliance on labor, all while ensuring a healthy grazing system. To learn more CLICK HERE.

Herd-Building in Action

Robert Wilson in Scotland incorporates kale as a part of his management plan! He shared this video of his Romany Hereford cattle herd enjoying the crop Tuesday morning on X (formerly known as Twitter) — and they really like it! The farmer says this is the best crop on the farm this year.


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