Missouri Beef Tour surveys producers on plans to cope with drought
The 2012 Missouri Beef Tour drew a crowd of nearly 300 cattle producers from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to Lawrence county.
Tour hosts were Shiloh Land and Cattle Co., Jackie Moore Ranch, Dustin and Scynthia Schnake and Clif and Alice Harrington. In addition, attendees viewed beef and forage research projects at the University of Missouri's Southwest Research Center just south of Mt. Vernon.
"During the tour guests were asked to complete a survey regarding their plans to cope with the drought," said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with MU Extension. "We learned a lot from the 85 surveys that were filled out and returned."
The first question asked producers how far into the winter their current forage supply take them. The majority (34.1 percent) felt they could make it until March 1. April 1 received a 25.6 percent vote and 17.1 percent felt they could only make it until Jan. 1. Exactly 17 percent said they would run out of forage by Dec. 1.
The second question asked, "Will you have more, less or the same number of beef cows next April as you have now?" Forty-nine percent indicated they would have fewer cows. Their average percent reduction in cows was 17.4 percent. The range went from 5 percent to 50 percent less. Only 5 replies (6.1 percent) felt they would increase their cow numbers this winter. Thirty-eight farmers said they would remain the same in beef cow inventory in the next 8 months.
The last question asked, "What management practice will you employ to extend your forage supply?" There were a wide variety of practices suggested. The two top vote-getters were to save forage by various practices and plant emergency pasture species. Saving forage edged out the planting plans by a 25 percent to 24.4 percent vote.
The forage saving ideas included: strip grazing, rotating pastures, limit feeding of hay, buying improved hay rings and restricting time to graze pastures. Planting emergency grazing crops saw wheat, ryegrass, cereal rye and turnips as crops being planted soon.
Selling open cows and those that are less productive came in as the third most popular practice with 14 percent close behind at 11.6 percent was to wean and sell calves early. Just over 9 percent offered supplement feeding of by-products like dried distillers grains or commercial products.
Down the line, and mentioned only by one to three farmers included: feed silage, corn stalks, ammoniate low-quality hay, cut trees, fertilize fescue pastures and buy or rent more pasture.
The annual Missouri Beef Tour is coordinated by University of Missouri Extension Commercial Agriculture with the following sponsors: Missouri Beef Industry Council, Missouri Soybeans, FCS Financial, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Missouri Conservation Commission and Missouri Corn Growers.