Aug. 13 Workshop to Focus on Drought-Related Financial, Management Options for Livestock

August 2, 2012

CANFIELD, Ohio – The drought of 2012 has been one of the worst on record in Ohio, and many livestock producers are now or soon could be at the point where they’ll have to adjust plans and reshuffle resources to try to minimize the negative economic impact from the continued extreme weather, a pair of Ohio State University Extension educators said.

To help, OSU Extension is sponsoring a free workshop, “Livestock Management – After the Drought,” Aug. 13 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm on State Route 46, across from the Canfield Fairgrounds in Canfield. 

The lack of substantial rainfall, extreme heat and dryness have left many producers short on hay and silage supplies and looking for any alternative forages they can plant to make up for the shortages, said Rory Lewandowski, an agriculture and natural resources educator for OSU Extension.

“I’ve gotten calls from producers wondering what kind of tradeoffs they should be looking for in forages and the impact on pricing and economics they could be facing,” he said. “Growers want to know what they can do to set themselves up in a better place next year for forages.” 

The program will help farmers identify options for keeping livestock healthy and growing this winter, Lewandowski said.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it -- the economic impact that this drought can have on growers and producers is going to be tough, but the question is how, do we manage it the best that we can?” he said. “Our goal is to provide information to help people in agriculture know what kind of resources are out there to minimize the economic impact.” 

That impact has the potential to be huge, considering that the majority of Ohio except for small portions of some counties near the Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders is experiencing moderate drought, with areas near the Indiana and Michigan borders experiencing severe drought as of July 31, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor.

The drought has had a significant impact on livestock farmers due to losing pasture and hay crops, said Eric Barrett, an Extension educator in Mahoning County. While the recent rains have helped reduce the stress caused by the drought, there are still significant effects on crops and feed supplies for area livestock, he said. 

“The extreme drought situation has increased the demand for area hay and forages,” Barrett said. “This has added to an already high demand for low supply and has created hay prices well above what farmers can afford to pay in order to feed their livestock. 

“Thus, feeding cattle and other livestock this fall and winter is going to be a daunting task for area farmers.” 

The program will include presentations by: 

  •  Bill Weiss, an OSU Extension livestock nutritionist, who will discuss using drought-stressed corn for silage and other options for alternative feeds.
  •  Dianne Shoemaker, an OSU Extension specialist in dairy economics who will discuss pricing drought-stressed corn for silage and tax issues relating to selling livestock due the drought, among other issues.
  •  Lewandowski, who will discuss post-drought management including buying corn versus forages, as well as reseeding and restoring drought-damaged pastures come late winter and spring. 
  •  Local representatives from the agriculture sector who will discuss assistance programs available to growers and producers and answer questions from participants. 

“From the forage crop growers to the agronomic field crop growers, everyone is feeling the stress from this lack of moisture and extreme heat,” Lewandowski said. “Livestock producers are beginning to make plans, including anticipating where they can find some other hay sources and thinking about what this will mean for fall and winter feeding.”

More information on the event can be found at http://extension.osu.edu/counties/mahoning/news/livestock-management-after-the-drought.

Author(s): 
Tracy Turner, Eric Barrett
Source(s): 
Rory Lewandowski, Eric Barrett