Make longer term investments and introduce new strategies to build resilience to drought and identify what to do at your specific predefined decision points (triggers).
- Livestock systems
- Diversifying the herd
- Flexible stock strategies l diversification of type of livestock. Some producers use yearlings to be able to flex stocking in response to drought, or conversely, with regards to increased production in wet years. Studies have shown that having yearlings as a component of the herd can increase returns substantially, but it also means increased production costs and risk, as well as not being appropriate for all scenarios (see the study). With increased swings in forage availability year to year, the study also found that a 50:50 allocation of available forage to cow-calf and yearling enterprises.
- Drought resilient breeds and considerations
- Building resilience to drought – rangeland management strategies
- Grazing management, or managing the intensity, frequency, and timing of grazing on rangelands is critical for mitigating impacts of drought to Colorado rangelands. The phrase, “intensity of grazing” refers to the number of animals and duration of grazing on a particular pasture (i.e., stocking rate). Heavily grazed pastures show greater reductions in forage production during drought than lightly or moderately grazed pastures. Excessive removal of green leafy material during the growing season reduces root growth and replacement, decreasing the ability of plants to harvest solar energy and soil moisture needed for maintenance and growth. Learn more about rangeland management before, during and after drought, provided by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
- If this describes a chronic situation for you and your operation, it might be a good time to make a grazing plan. The first step in this is assessing your forage demand relative to supply.
From there, the next step is to develop a plan on how you can better manage the intensity, frequency, and timing of grazing. This can be complex, and depends on your operation, land ownership types, and beyond. To begin the process, you can contact a regional range management specialist (ADD EMAIL LINKS TO Retta – west slope or Annie Overlin – east slope). Technical assistance and cost-share is also available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Contact your local service office for more information.
- Financial options after drought – could revamp for Colorado – https://drought.unl.edu/ranchplan/AfterDrought/FinancialOptionsAfterDrought.aspx
- Diversifying the herd
Evaluation: Evaluating the plan. Did you learn anything? Did it function as expected?