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Will today's rains be enough to help local ranchers?

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Posted at 7:36 AM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 08:41:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Many South Texas counties are experiencing a severe drought and with the triple digit heat, local ranchers are worried about their cattle.

Although we have had a few rain showers in the past few days, some cattle ranchers are not feeling optimistic.

The Jim Wells County Extension Beef Committee will host its annual Ranch Field Day to help ranchers come up with a drought plan, hosting its annual Ranch Field Day on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Shimer Ranch, located north of Alice.

“Our ranch field day next Saturday is going to create a great opportunity for producers to start building a plan of what they need to do, get a plan of action in place for their own operation, start thinking about culling if necessary, or start stocking up or finding alternative feed sources for their cattle,” said Jim Well County Agriculture Extension Agent Rogelio Mercado.

The lack of rain can be devastating for ranchers who need it to keep their cattle fed and producing.

“The overall story of this 2019 is that January, February, and March were extremely dry," Mercado said. "We did get some relief in April, but then in May, June, July, and August were also extremely dry and really has set South Texas into a drought pattern for the most part."

The persistence of the drought has forced ranchers to use all the creative techniques they can muster to survive.

“Here in Jim Wells County, we are really experiencing a lot of problems with forage availability and forage quality for our cattle," Mercado said. "So our producers are definitely having to find ways to maintain body condition scores on their cows, and that obviously includes supplementation of both forages and protein supplements or protein sources."

If the hay is too costly for ranchers, they'll have to sell their livestock, losing thousands of dollars.

“Right now, we are hoping we get some follow up rains to what we received last week in order to produce more grass, and to allow our hay producers to cut more hay we will need for the winter time,” he said.

If the drought continues, thousands of ranchers across the state of Texas, will have to make a choice: sell most of their herds -- if not all -- or go broke trying to feed them.

Even with the recent rains the area has received, drought conditions have affected beef cattle producers, which is the program's focus. Dr. Joe Paschal, Extension Livestock Specialist will be discussing best management practices and considerations for beef cattle producers.

This will include culling strategies, and health and nutritional requirements, along with other tips for producers to consider during a dry spell.

Dr. Randy Stanko, Professor of Animal Science will focus on reproduction of the beef cow. Cows are a rancher’s tool, and they need to be bred and/or raising a calf 12 months out of the year. Stanko will help producers understand the requirements of a cow in order to breed her and keep her bred.

Two other topics which will also be addressed will be the Cattle Fever Tick and Market Conditions. With the recent Cattle Fever Tick outbreak in northern Jim Wells County, Dr. Brodie Miller with the Texas Animal Health Commission has agreed to provide an update on the quarantine area and their findings.

This is an important topic to area beef cattle producers in Jim Wells County and surrounding areas. And to wrap up the program, Mac Young with the Farm Assist Program will provide a market update, and discuss the factors that are driving the beef cattle market at this time.

Shimer Ranch is located approximately one mile north of the FM 2044 intersection and Hwy 281 on the west side of the highway.

Registration will start at 8:30 am with the program kicking off at 9:00 am. Registration fee is $10 per person. Lunch will be served and everyone is encouraged to RSVP to 361-668-5705 ext. 7 to ensure adequate meal arrangements can be made.