Summer Drought Hits Cattle Farmers this Winter

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BOONE COUNTY- An MU researchers said on Wednesday, this summer's dry conditions could lead to problems for cattle farmers. The dry conditions led to a lower quality of hay feed, causing cows to be skinnier going into the breeding season. Most of the hay does not meet the nutritional standards for cows, affecting the cow's ability to breed again. 

"The quality of the forage due to the drought makes it a challenge to not only make cattle farming possible, but to keep that cow rebreeding year after year," said University of Missouri Beef Nutritionist Justin Sexten.

In normal conditions, cows would be fat by now, but University of Missouri researchers said they are afraid many cows will go into the winter without a protective layer of fat. "During July and August, when no grass grew for cows to graze off of, the cows lost the fat off their backs," said Sexten.

Farmers say hay supplies are limited and low quality this year, which hinders the cow from keeping a fat layer that will allow them to develop a calf. A cow with poor condition after giving birth will not rebreed the second year, causing huge losses for beef herd owners. MU researchers said fewer calves born could mean higher beef prices since there are fewer cows being raised for production.

Sexten encourages farmers this year to provide an additional grain supplement for calves to stay healthy going into the breeding season. "You can pay now, or pay later. The choice comes down to buying feed now or risk the cow not rebreeding," said Sexten.