Tips for feeding during drought conditions | Living the Country Life

Tips for feeding during drought conditions

For questions relating to drought and feeding programs, please send your questions to our "Ask the Expert".

During droughts when forage production stops, alternative feeds and feeding programs need to be used utilized until forages are growing again.

When deciding on an alternative feeding program there are several options to consider. The goal is to get the cows re-bred, maintain pounds produced per cow, and minimize feed cost per pound of calf sold.

Options to consider are feed availability, equipment needs and storage. The ideal alternative feeding program will meet the cows' requirements as close to normal pasture costs as possible.

When feeding cattle during a drought, here are a few items to keep in mind:


  1. Lack of adequate water. During a drought be sure to watch natural water sources such as ponds and tanks, to be sure there is adequate quality water available.
  2. Type and source of forage supplement is critical. If using low inclusion rate supplements, make sure forage supplies are adequate. Remember, these types of feeds are designed to be forage supplements. If forage supply is limited, these products cannot work as designed.
  3. Hay cut under moisture stress conditions, especially sorghum type hays, may contain high levels of nitrate and prussic acid. If in doubt, it would be good to test for nitrate before feeding such hays, especially before feeding large amounts.
  4. Cattle grazing short pasture are more likely to consume toxic plants. Talk to your local extension agent or forage specialist for toxic plant potential in your area.
  5. Low diet digestibility and reduced intake may result when cattle receive inadequate protein (less than 7% to 8% CP in total diet) from low quality forage such as drought pasture or forage substitutes such as peanut hulls, straws or gin trash*.


    Due to factors outside of Land O'Lakes Purina Feed’s control and because of market uncertainties, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to financial performance, profits, losses or otherwise, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Land O'Lakes Purina Feed.

    * 2000 NRC

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