Drought Management Planning

Drought is a common occurrence in Nebraska. This page is designed to help beef producers design a drought management plan and to provide ideas to consider before and during a drought.

Current Drought Monitor

current  Nebraska Drought Monitor


  • None
  • D0 (Abnormally Dry)
  • D1 (Moderate Drought
  • D2 (Severe Drought)
  • D3 (Extreme Drought)
  • D4 (Exceptional Drought)
  • No Data

Visit the Drought Monitor site.

Animal Management

Range/Pasture Management

  • Drought Planning Trigger Dates - The amount and timing of spring and early summer precipitation is an important factor in determining annual plant production. Using critical or trigger dates can help producers adjust stocking rates if precipitation, and the resulting forage production, is expected to be below average.
  • Pastures and Drought: Response and Impact - Understanding the short and long term impacts drought can have on pasture is important as we update drought contingency plans. Planning ahead can reduce the long-term impacts and help make difficult decisions easier in the heat of the moment.
  • Grazing Management with Variable Plant Production in the Nebraska Sandhills, EC3039 - outlines strategies to appropriately understand and match forage demand from grazing animals with annually fluctuating plant production on native rangelands in the Nebraska Sandhills. Long-term plant production research at the UNL Barta Brothers Ranch highlights relationships between plant production and growing season precipitation in a mixed grass grassland.
  • Skillful Grazing Management on Semiarid Rangelands, EC162 - describes grazing forages reproduction, the growth patterns of plant parts, and managing grazing and drought conditions.
  • Grass-Cast - uses well-known relationships between historical weather and grassland production. It combines current weather data and seasonal climate outlooks (from NOAA Climate Prediction Center) with a well-trusted grassland model (DayCent) to predict total biomass (lbs/acre) for individual counties, compared to their 38-year average. Managers can use grass cast to form a more educated guess about the upcoming growing season and inform the design of proactive drought management plans, trigger dates, stocking dates, and grazing rotations.
  • Reducing pasture forage intake by feeding while grazing - outlines options to allow cows remain in the pasture substitute another feed as a part of the cow's daily feed consumed to reduce pasture forage intake.
  • Drought Increases Toxic and Poisonous Plant Risk to Livestock - discusses some of the reasons why drought causes this issue and provides a link to common poisonous plants to look for in western Nebraska. The Extension circular Nebraska Plants Toxic to Livestock provides information to assist with identifying and managing toxic plants.

Cropland Forage Resources

Government Assistance and Tax Considerations

The Drought Monitor shows a map of current conditions as well as links to forecasts. The National Drought Mitigation Center website has information that is valuable for beef producers, including Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch which has a planning guide for great plains ranchers

Are you looking to purchase hay? The Nebraska Department of Agriculture Hay and Forage Hotline sellers list can help you find producers that have hay for sell.

Want to know if CRP in your county is eligible for emergency haying or grazing due to drought?  The USDA FSA provides updated info here.

Please see the Drought Resources website for additional information related to other topics such as Crops, Domestic Water, Home & Garden, and more.

Watch the UNL Beef Drought Management Webinar Playlist on YouTube.