Managing Pastures During Dry Times

It may seem ironic to be talking about drought when we have such a wet winter and spring, but parts of KY were dry in late May, early June and they may be dry again after this bout of wet weather. It’s important to remember that drought is a part of Kentucky’s agricultural landscape.  Long-term weather records indicate that we can expect a moderate drought once every five years and a real doozy once every decade or so. 

Developing and implementing a drought management plan can significantly reduce the economic and emotional impact of drought on your operation.  The time to develop this plan is before it gets dry.  The strategies that are used will depend on the resources you have on your farm and your long-term goals. Drought management strategies include:

· Implement rotational grazing.

· Incorporate deep-rooted legumes into pastures.

· Incorporate warm-season perennial grasses into grazing system.

· Incorporate warm-season annual grasses into grazing system.

· Feed hay.

· Utilize commodities to extend pastures.

· Stock for five-year drought.

· Wean or sell calves early.

· Sell cows.

~ Chris Teutsch, excerpt from June Cow Country News.