The rain showers earlier last week were a welcome sign for farmers in Alabama. However, it did not put an end to the record breaking drought.
Barbour County is now classified as a D4 county, which means it is experiencing exceptional drought conditions and widespread crop or pasture losses, as well as, shortages of water.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service held a Drought Resources meeting at the Ariton Baptist Church Thursday, December 1 for livestock producers.
Producers are well aware of the current situation and know it has the potential to worsen in coming months. Weather forecasters are not calling for substantial rainfall until well into February.
Attendees of the meeting heard a presentation from Alabama Cooperative Extension System Animal Science and Forges Regional Agent Rickey Hudson about how to prepare for the winter months with a hay shortage.
Hudson advised producers to think wisely about supplemental feeds and pasture rotation. He also discussed nutritional needs of cattle.
He highly suggested hay tested for nutritional quality. This way producers can determine which feeds to add with hay to ensure the cattle are getting the nutrients they need to survive the dry winter months.
Producers can send forage samples to the Auburn University Soil, Forage, and Water Testing Laboratory for testing. Samples will be analyzed for moisture, protein, fiber, nitrates, and other contents. Producers can call their local Extension Office to learn more about this process.
Attendees also heard from Barbour County Farm Service Agency’s County Executive Director, Donna Senn about disaster programs for livestock. Donna said Barbour County is designated as a primary disaster area. The Barbour County FSA office is taking applications for disaster assistance.
The last speaker of the evening was ACES Farm and Agribusiness Management REA Ken Kelley. Kelley discussed recent cattle prices and what prices may do in coming months. He stressed the importance of considering the financial impact of feeding cattle during a drought.
Kelley said with prices so low right now it’s important to know your input cost to figure whether you will make any money this year. He said some producers will be OK breaking even or cutting a loss but if your operation can’t handle a loss you need know what your options are. Some producers may be better off selling, but it’s all determined by a case by case situation.
Producers can contact their location Extension Office to gain information about drought resources. Additional drought information and news.