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Ranching with Drought in Mind

"You're either ranching out of a drought or ranching getting ready to be in a drought. You can't just run cows, you have to ranch the land." - Zac’s grandfather- can we include his name?


The wise man who made the statement above is not wrong. When considering all of the ranch operations, drought is always on our mind. While 2021 is looking like it might be a drier year, we have to keep all of the possible scenarios in mind when managing the land.


As you might guess, different approaches are taken for ranching when preparing for a potential drought. Water, the most scarce resource in ranching, must be conserved wherever possible. That includes adding efficiencies where possible, like building ditches or other containers to save water. Land management tactics like using conservation practices and building natural barriers to increase moisture can also help the efforts. More drastic tactics would include reducing the number of cattle on the land to consume less water.


Ranching out of a drought brings different challenges. If ranchers were forced to cull their herd, they may have to deal with the financial impacts of that, including having processed smaller, less valuable cows, and having to restock the ranch. And, after a drought has occurred, ranchers may need to build back their financial reserves and begin revising their “drought plan” for the next time the drought returns.


Many aspects of ranching are a cycle, and drought preparations are one of them. Smart ranchers will have a strategy for both entering and exiting a dry season.



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