National Drought Mitigation Center

Start Here After Drought

1. Understand how drought has affected 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

3. Identify and evaluate strategies to help you recover from drought

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.

4. Learn to monitor drought, forage resources, livestock health, and finances

Recent droughts have taught ranchers about the need for long-term monitoring of the weather, and their livestock, vegetation, and financial resources. Monitoring should begin in advance of drought, so that you have the information you need to make fast and effective decisions near the beginning of drought and before prolonged drought cripples your plan, animal, and financial resources.

5. Start planning to get forage resources, livestock, and finances ready for the next drought

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. Create a management plan for the next 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

Find resources and people who can help you.