Livestock producers are feeling drought effects

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Livestock producers are feeling drought effects

Date: 
Mon, 09/17/2012

Four individuals shared how the drought has impacted the areas they hail from.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

It’s not a new story that this year’s drought will have severe consequence throughout production agriculture, especially for those who feed livestock. At a Vermeer media event held at the company's headquarters in Pella, Iowa, a panel of dealers and producers shared how they anticipate the drought will affect their areas and yield.

Gary Belzer, Albia, Iowa, hails from an area of the country where corn averages 120 to 140 bushels to the acre. The corn standing in the fields throughout that area has been impacted significantly; many of his customers are hoping to average 40 bushels per acre. But the story differs depending on the direction you head. To the west, farmers are anticipating 14 bushels to the acre, while heading south, fields are hit or miss ranging from 15 to 70 bushels. Many farmers have begun to run out of forage and are beginning early and extensive culling.

From Broken Bow, Neb., the situation looks only marginally better for Butch McGinn. While there had been a generous rain the last few years, as of June 15, any excess water in the soil was gone. McGinn runs a cow-calf operation that had slightly positive outlook earlier this year with carryover hay. From both of their ranches, they typically average 7,000 bales. So far this year they have only gotten 5,000. In 2012, McGinn’s hayed 80 percent of what they normally do and only reached 80 percent of their normal volume with that land.

The areas near Oakely, Kan., were fortunate to have decent yields with their wheat crop, noted Tom Halbleib. But the Kansas borderline was dry last year and didn’t catch any rain this year. Like many areas, the dry land corn has little corn to speak of; approximately one in 10 plants contain an ear. Many of the farmers he works with are chopping or choosing to bale if the nitrate levels aren’t coming back too high. While the irrigated land looks good, some producers are making the choice to only irrigate half their fields. As herd sizes are being cut, corn stalks are being used as filler and distillers are being purchased as a protein source.

In Emmetsburg, Iowa the producers have gone into salvage mode. The rain shut off last August and hasn’t really turned back on, noted Eric Woodford. Farmers in that area went into dry soils but had great germination with a timely rain early on. The corn looked good until it reached rapid growth. Since then, there hasn’t been enough rain to produce. Cobs aren’t filled if they’re even there and there are not beans in the pods.

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