Experts with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are advising beef cattle producers to use caution and strategic planning when thinking about restocking herds after a drought. Though rainfall has been received throughout the eastern portion of the state and promoted growth of forages on pastures, cattle producers need to be careful when evaluating their operations.
"I think so far people are being really cautious," says Dr. David Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist, College Station. "I think producers are waiting to see if this rain is going to last. They should be asking themselves questions like: 'How long is it going to take for your pasture to recover?' and 'What is going to happen once we get into the summer?'"
Anderson says there also are financial constraints to consider, such as how much was spent feeding hay and other feedstuffs through the 2011 drought--"There's also the sticker shock on how much it is going to cost to replace cattle," he points out.
Dr. Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, College Station, says producers always should consider the threat of drought.
"My take is people should be stocked for drought at all times," Redmon says. "People can reduce the risk of potential drought and not have to worry about doing any buying and selling. If you have a good year, there are lots of ways to use that extra grass. You can't feed your way out of a drought. You can easily spend more money (trying) than the operation can generate over several years."
Redmon says in a good year, ranchers who have extra grass can either bale it, graze it, or lease it out for grazing—"If you are completely destocked, stay out a year, and let that pasture recover for a year before coming back in. Overall, I just think it's a little too soon to start restocking. I think producers need to be very cautious remember, more is not always better."