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HARRISON, Ark. – 2014 has been a fantastic year for cattle farmers, according to Boone
County Extension Agent Mike McClintock, heavy rains throughout the year may augur
higher production costs through the winter.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 52 percent of Arkansas’
pastures were in good or excellent condition; 31 percent were rated fair and 17 percent
were rated poor or very poor.
Heavy rains throughout the year largely benefitted cattle farmers with plentiful hay,
although excessive rains in the north-central portion of the state diminished the
crop’s nutrient content, and will likely require some farmers to rely more heavily
on supplemental feed through the winter.
“We had a little too much rain and cool temperatures during hay season,” McClintock
said. “We made a lot of volume of hay, but due to a lot of the producers not being
able to get it out of the field in a timely fashion, the quality of that hay is much
lower, in terms of its nutritional quality.”
Fescue hay typically has a crude protein content of about 8 to 10 percent if harvested
in late May, but drops drastically as the summer progresses. McClintock said the hay’s
crude protein content can drop to 6 percent or less by July.
“Those producers that did not stockpile forage are going to start feeding hay earlier
than normal for our area,” McClintock said. “I think many of them, if they did not
test the hay for quality, are going to be surprised and have to start their supplementation
earlier as well.”
While this won’t affect cattle purchasers or retail consumers, producers’ net income
will suffer if they have to resort to feeding their cows distiller’s grain, corn,
or other sources of supplemental nutrition.
“If we have a prolonged winter, and they have to rely on this sub-quality hay for
as long of a winter as we had last year, then that could have all kinds of detrimental
effects on their cow herd for next year’s production,” McClintock said. “If mama cows
come through the winter, and they’re losing one or two body condition scores, that’s
going to affect their milking ability in the spring, and their breed-back potential
after they calf. It’s not a good scenario.”
In the southwest portion of the state, however, cattle farmers will likely avoid having
to rely on supplemental feed through the winter, said Sevier County Extension Staff
Chair Rex Herring.
“We had a phenomenal hay year,” Herring said, noting that many farmers in the area
have been able to keep their herds grazing well through mid-November, and are only
now beginning to feed hay. “Supplemental feed isn’t going to be a big factor this
Like other parts of the state, southwestern Arkansas was hard it by drought in 2012,
drought that persisted in to 2013.
“We’re going into winter in a better condition than they have probably in years,”
Herring said. “The only thing we ask for is for Mother Nature to just not be too hard
on us. Last week, a lot of people in south Arkansas experienced snow. I hope that’s
not like what the rest of winter has in store for us.”
For more information about forage or cattle production, contact your county extension
office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Ryan McGeeneyCooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org