Weather & the Herd: Keeping up body condition and the potential for expansion

As Spring nears, herd expansion could be in the near future for South Dakota producers.

The latest drought monitor shows more than 280,000 people are covered in some level of drought in the state, but conditions have improved drastically in the last few weeks, removing all levels of exceptional and extreme drought.

A producer in the western portion of the state says if dry conditions improve, ranchers will keep more heifers. In the short term, that means the fat cattle market will improve as those heifers are put back into production. However, the expansion will not happen overnight, especially since a large portion of the state’s herd has already been moved due to the prolonged drought.

For those ranchers, it is important to keep your herd in good body condition.

Cows are an investment for operations, meaning they are a large cost each year. A veterinarian with Iowa State University says getting the herd in the right body conditions before calving begins can help improve your success rate, help raise the new calf and prepare the herd for the next calf crop.

The vet suggests reaching out to your local vet or extension livestock specialists to develop a nutrition and vaccination plan to get your cows where they need to be.

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