Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch

Where to Start if you are in a Drought

1. Understand how drought is affecting your forages, livestock, and finances

Range condition influences the rate of recovery in forage production after drought. Even with sound management, plant vigor may not fully recover for 5 or more years if heavy grazing occurred prior to and during drought. Animal performance may be diminished, and herd size may be reduced. The financial balance sheet as well as cash flow may be impacted for five years or more. This understanding will form your strategies for recovery from drought.

2. Take Inventory and Monitor

You need to know where you stand in order to know where to start.  Monitoring will help you measure the impacts of the drought and your management response to the drought, over the long term.

3. Develop and implement strategies to manage through current drought

There are things you can do now to limit drought related losses to your herd, pastures, finances, and family life.

4. Start planning for drought recovery

You may want to have a five to ten year plan for recovering from a prolonged drought. At this stage it is critical to sit down with someone to do a good analysis of your business, identify strategies for recovery, and evaluate the impact that those strategies will have on your balance sheet, cash flow, pasture health, livestock herd, and family.

5. Start planning to improve the health of forage resources, livestock, and finances

The next step is to develop and implement a plan that maximizes the overall health, resilience, and productivity of your ranch operation. Healthy systems are better able to tolerate drought. Incorporating the likelihood of periodic drought into your overall ranch plan and grazing strategy will increase the likelihood that your pastures, livestock, finances, and family will successfully make it through the next one.

6. Use what you've learned to plan for drought

Now's the time to create a plan that will help you maintain the health of your pastures, livestock, finances, and family during the next drought. Other producers have found that thinking through their options ahead of time, and making timely decisions, have helped them reduce drought-related losses and personal stress.

7. Find the help you need now

Don't think that you need to get through a drought by yourself. Find resources and people who can help you here.


Help Us Develop and Improve "Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch"

Send your comments, suggestions, corrections, ideas, and stories to the National Drought Mitigation Center.  Your feedback is actively sought and will be used to modify these resources.  Thank you.

The National Drought Mitigation Center | 3310 Holdrege Street | P.O. Box 830988 | Lincoln, NE 68583–0988
phone: (402) 472–6707 | fax: (402) 472–2946 | Email Us

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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