A pair of factors created by drought through much of the Midwest is weighing on western Kansas cattle producers’ decisions on when to turn their herds out on grass this spring and summer.
“When and how grass turnout occurs is a big decision this year as we are attempting to mitigate high prices for hay and other feeds while avoiding further damage to already stressed pastures,” said Jason Warner, a beef cow-calf specialist with K-State Research and Extension.
Grass growth was very limited in many areas of Kansas last year, and continuing dry conditions in recent months raise questions about how livestock producers should plan for the coming growing season.
“Throughout much of 2022 and early 2023, producers have downsized herds but also shopped for forage resources from broader areas to retain as much of their herds as possible,” said Sandy Johnson, a K-State Research and Extension beef specialist. “As normal grass turnout time arrives, producers are evaluating the supply of harvested forages in relationship to forage demand and when grazing will become an option again.”
Johnson said K-State’s Western Kansas Research and Extension Centers will host a webinar on April 4 from noon to 1 p.m. (Central) to help western Kansas cattle producers make their decision on when to turn out cattle.
Keith Harmoney, a range scientist at K-State’s research center in Hays, has studied historical data from range research at the experiment station, including droughts in the 1930s and 1950s and more recently. He will be sharing his thoughts on planning and decision making for this spring, based on the date he has collected.
The webinar is free, but registration is required. The session also will be recorded and stored on the K-State Department of Animal Sciences beef website, KSUBeef.org.
More information also is available by contacting Johnson at 785-462-6281, or [email protected].