Summer drought affecting livestock producers in the Big Country

By: Kaitlyn Arnold, Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University

ABILENE, Texas — The State of Texas is the largest producer of livestock in the United States.

Much of the State of Texas is dealing with drought conditions right now, but how is this affecting livestock in the Big Country?

Dr. Jason Sawyer is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences and Beef Management at Texas A&M University, and he believes that this summer’s drought could have an impact on cattle prices.livestock sale

“We typically see cattle prices decline a modest amount as people take older stuff to market and start to try and lighten the load off their ranch,” said Sawyer. “And of course, the aftermath of that supply has been reduced, so we typically see a rebound effect in cattle prices, sometimes the following year or two years later.”Sawyer also explained the long-term effects that droughts can have on livestock going into the fall and how producers can handle it.

“So, one of the things we want to think about is resilience in the cow herd, how do we help management make decisions that allow them to cope with drought, because we know we can’t prevent it,” Sawyer said.

Much of the Big Country is experiencing moderate or severe drought conditions, which could potentially linger on into the fall months, and the rancher community will have to make changes in order to keep good livestock numbers.

“Our first effort to address that is to try and remove no productive cattle from our cow herd as relatively quick as possible,” said Sawyer. “So, we might advance our weening calendar about three or four weeks this year and start looking for some relief.”

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