Cattlemen are struggling to grow grazing for their herds

By: Denise Bradberry Email
By: Denise Bradberry Email

Many area cattlemen are having trouble growing food for their livestock to graze on this winter, but some in the cotton industry got an unexpected surprise this harvest.

As many of our area farmers know, the delicate balance of when rain becomes too much rain is hard to find and can mean big hits to farmers' profits.

"Winter grazing, we really count on it to try to feed cattle both stockers and cow calves and bull and pure bread operations and really wet weather and that two weeks of arctic conditions that we had, the grazings are about as bad as I've seen. It's been really tough on people," says Coffee County Extension Coordinator Stan Windham.

Cattleman Dan Stokes is heading into the rest of the winter concerned that the highly nutritious rye, clover and oats planted for his cows to graze on isn't growing in.

“For the most part the winter grazing has been real slow to grow, due to the excess in moisture and cloudy days. We haven't had any bright sunny days which are what winter crops need to grow properly,” says Stokes.

Lack of sunny days isn't the only villain.

Wet fields are keeping farmers from getting needed fertilizer out.

To make up the difference farmers are having to spend more on hay just to keep their cattle fed through the winter.

“You know you're going to have to feed some hay. This year seems like it's a third or more hay and the real wet hided animals, more cold animals eat more. They're eating a lot of hay, the grazing's short, so it's kind of tough this year,” says Windham.

“It slows the growth of the cattle and it makes a little more difficult to maintain the weight the cattle need to maintain this time of year. They're getting real thin for the most part in general and the cows are beginning to calf and we're having a bit of difficulty with the calving crop,” says Stokes.

Although many cattlemen are having trouble getting their grazing to grow in, Windham says the quality of some cotton crops were actually better than expected.

“We thought it would be awful,” says Windham.

Excessive rain made it hard for farmers to get into fields to harvest their cotton and many worried the consecutive downpours would affect quality.

“I’m sure not everybody has had good grades. I saw some that looked like newspaper,” says Windham, “but a handful of folks I talked to, we were pleasantly surprised by the grades they were getting.”

Cattle farmers are still waiting to see what effect this difficult grazing season may have on the size of their cattle when they go to sale.

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