Drought Relief Assistance

— Written By Keith Wood

Many area farmers are now having to deal with a severe drought. Some crops fared well in areas that received some of the pop up thunderstorms this summer, but other areas did not receive enough rain. Livestock producers have been hit the hardest lately. The drought has worsened in the past couple of months reducing the fall pasture growth. With adequate rain in the fall, the cooler temperatures increases growth in cool season grasses that most pastures around here have. Most livestock producers depend on this last flush of growth to carry their stock into the early winter. Since the drought has stopped grasses from growing, many producers have started feeding hay. Dry conditions have cut hay production for most and many do not have the hay supplies to feed from now through winter. Farmers east of here experienced the opposite with several tropical systems producing massive flooding damaging hay stored and hay production. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture has a Hay Alert web page where producers can list hay for sale and post hay wanted. If you have extra hay to sell, list it there or call our office and tell us.

Some other things livestock producers are advised to do is to check watering boxes, streams and water supplies to make sure they have adequate water. The University of Nebraska states: As a rule of thumb, cattle consumption will range from 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight during cold weather to nearly 2 gallons per 100 pounds of body during the hottest weather. Lactating cows require nearly twice as much water compared to dry cows. Clean fresh water free of manure, dirt, and other debris is important. If you are already feeding hay or still have some green in your pastures, consider supplementing with feed or corn gluten. Soybean hulls is another fairly inexpensive supplement. Two or three producers can go in together and either get a truck load hauled in or pay the expenses for one to go and pick it up. Pasture rotation is another way to help grass recover. If and when we do get some rain, giving a pasture a couple of weeks of no grazing can help pastures get reestablished. Mississippi State has a quick reference guide titled Mississippi Beef Cattle Producer Quick Reference for Dealing with Drought. The reference offers assistance on topics of feeds, nutrition, poisoning concerns and other information.