Drought conditions - what are some feed options to plant

Producer Question from 2013

Q.  With the drought conditions what are some feed options I can plant this spring and summer for grazing or hay since it looks like we are going to be short on pasture? We have both cow-calf pairs and replacement heifers. (Feb 7, 2013)

A.  There are a lot of different annual forage options available to you. The following are things I think a producer needs to think through in determining which annual forages may work best. 

  1. How much water is available to grow forage and when will it be available? (soil moisture, irrigation water, expected precipitation)
  2. When is the forage needed? Is the shortage this spring or later on into the summer?
  3. What are the nutrient needs of the cattle that will be grazing? Cow-calf pairs at peak lactation have higher nutrient requirements than dry cows or bred heifers.
  4. What is the subsequent land use for the ground that the forage will be grown on?
  5. What forages can you readily get seed for? With the drought of 2012, seed for some annual forages is in short supply for the 2013 growing season.
  6. How much grazing management will be provided?
  7. Equipment available for planting and harvest.

Dr. Jerry Volesky, Range and Forage Specialist with UNL Extension located at the West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte recently wrote Grazing and Forage Management in 2013 which is a summary of things producers can do to manage range and pasture resources along with utilizing annual forages for 2013.

The webinar, Forage Production with Limited Precipitation or Irrigation, was also recently recorded and it highlights what forage options are available to producers and how these forages can be used in a production system.

Aaron Berger, Extension Educator
Panhandle Research & Extension Center
University of Nebraska