Most Pastures Are In Extreme Ratings

Drought is affecting land and livestock.

Published on: Aug 12, 2011

The latest range and pasture report showed how the various weather conditions across the U.S. have affected the land. USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says that as of Aug., 7 more than a third of range and pasture in both good to excellent and very poor to poor conditions. Specifically 39% good to excellent and 38% very poor to poor.

Rippey says conditions in the North and West look good, but the South is not doing well.

"We see nine states where at least half the range and pasture land is rated very poor to poor," Rippey said. "Texas is at 94%, virtually no fair, good or excellent range or pasture in the entire state. Oklahoma is almost as bad, 92% very poor to poor; New Mexico at 87%."

Rippey says these problems are now beginning to drift into other areas, like the mid-South and other points East. He says Arkansas is at 80% very poor to poor, and South Carolina is at 50%, Maryland at 53% and Pennsylvania at 61%.

Feed and livestock supplies are dwindling and Rippey says that's a big problem.

"If you're going to try to maintain a herd in some of these severely drought affected areas like Oklahoma and Texas, that means you're going to have to bring in feed from somewhere else," Rippey said. "So we have a pretty steady flow of hay that's coming in from areas to the North of Oklahoma and Texas and that is the only way to provide feed for your herds at this point otherwise you have to liquidate your herd, selling off and reducing the number of livestock you have."

Rippey says both are happening, but that's because drought leaves few choices for producers. He says they either have to feed their crop to their herd or get rid of the herd.