Rains bring drought relief to Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Most of Missouri has transitioned out of drought conditions for now, said University of Missouri Extension state climatologist Zack Leasor. “The past two months have brought abundant rainfall to most of Missouri,” Leasor said. “After back-to-back drought years in 2022 and 2023, drought concerns were high in early 2024 following warm and dry conditions in February and March.”

Consider changing tilling, cover crop practices due to low soil moisture

TROY, Mo. – Soils are much, much drier now than they were at the start of last year’s planting season, says University of Missouri Extension climatologist Zachary Leasor. Despite gains in December and January, soil moisture sits below average for most of the state, Leasor says. Soil moisture plays an important role in the upper part of the soil but is even more important in the root zone.

MU climatologist talks about drought impact on 2024 crops

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The annual University of Missouri Crop Management Conference, Dec. 6-7, will offer insight into how the 2023 drought will affect crops in the year ahead.MU Extension state climatologist Zack Leasor will give an update on weather and climate conditions that led to the onset and persistence of the 2023 drought across Missouri.

Managing heat stress in sheep and goats

OSCEOLA, Mo. – Many animals die from extreme heat and humidity each year.“Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, including sheep and goats,” said David Brown, University of Missouri small ruminant specialist. “It is very dangerous if the onset of heat is sudden and animals do not have ample time to adapt.”

MU Extension guide covers management of small ruminants during drought

OSCEOLA, Mo. – Producers of small ruminants have had to deal with drought in nearly every part of Missouri this year trying to keep their animals healthy.“The biggest concern in drought for sheep and goats is lack of feed for the animals,” said David Brown, the University of Missouri Extension’s new livestock field specialist in small ruminants. Drought conditions affect nutrient quality of forage, leading to weight loss in sheep and…

Cornstalks can fill forage gaps during drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Grazing cornstalks or drought-stricken corn can fill feed gaps during drought, says University of Missouri Extension beef nutritionist Eric Bailey.There are some nutritional concerns, and producers must commit to moving cattle to new pastures to successfully use cornstalks as feedstuff, but there are benefits.

Can Missouri livestock producers outlast the drought?

COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s pretty simple math: Too little grass + too many cows = too little cash. Missouri livestock producers love their cows and never want to sell them, even when grass and water dry up, says University of Missouri Extension agricultural business specialist Wesley Tucker. Instead of culling cows, they will go to great lengths to find alternative feed sources, including growing and buying things they’ve never used before.

Native warm-season grasses help feed livestock through drought

The drought in Missouri has taken a toll on cool-season grasses, diminishing forage for cattle and other livestock.“Native warm-season grasses are the ideal forage for summer during the production slump of cool-season grasses due to heat, especially in a drought,” said Rusty Lee, University of Missouri Extension agronomy field specialist.

A No. 2 pencil is a beef producer's best tool

COLUMBIA, Mo. – One of the most important tools for livestock producers is a sharp No. 2 pencil.The pencil and some basic arithmetic can help take the emotion out of desperate measures to find feed. When you do the math, buying grain or other alternative feeds may be the best bang for the buck, says University of Missouri Extension agricultural business specialist Wesley Tucker.

Perilla mint poisoning of livestock worsens during drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension specialists are getting reports of illness and death in cows and small ruminants that may have ingested perilla mint.Perilla mint, a toxic summer annual, is also known as rattlesnake weed, purple mint and beefsteak plant.Most healthy animals will eat around perilla mint if other, more palatable feed is available, says University of Missouri Extension veterinary toxicologist Tim Evans.

5 reasons you need your veterinarian more than ever during drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – During drought, beef producers might find a best friend in their local veterinarian, says University of Missouri Extension veterinary toxicologist Tim Evans.“Although veterinarians always provide a valuable service to animal owners, their value to livestock producers becomes increasingly important during drought, high heat and limited forage availability,” says Evans.

Helping dairy cows through extreme heat

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Heat waves put extra stress on livestock. A University of Missouri Extension dairy specialist advises taking specific, ongoing steps for dairy cows throughout heat waves.Heat abatement“Dairy cows become heat-stressed starting at 65 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Scott Poock, state extension specialist in veterinary medicine. “Fans should start running at that temperature and by 70 degrees, soakers should be started.”

Now is time to use water resources available from agencies

HERMITAGE, Mo. – In the midst of drought, Missouri livestock producers face dwindling water supplies for their herds.Few options remain for this year, but producers can explore resources from local, state and federal agencies for the future, says University of Missouri Extension agronomist Terry Halleran.Halleran says it is important to plan now since the application process for many programs can take six months or more.

Deciding when to green chop drought-stressed corn or turn into silage

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Many Missouri corn growers are unsure about when to green chop and/or ensile their drought-stressed crops. There are key points to take into consideration on both the crop and livestock side, according to University of Missouri Extension specialists.Agronomy recommendations (MU Extension state agronomy specialist Kelly Nelson):

MU Extension offers help for crops, livestock and people during drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Drought. You're either in it, preparing for it or recovering from it.That’s how University of Missouri Extension specialists describe the sentiments of farm families facing yet another year of uncertainty.“Missouri stands at the precipice of its fourth significant drought in six years,” says Rob Kallenbach, associate dean of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

If you still have grass, grow now, graze later

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Small pockets of Missouri pastures may have gone unscathed by 2023 drought. Those lucky enough to have grass should consider stockpiling tall fescue, says University of Missouri Extension state forage specialist Craig Roberts.

Now is time for 911 emergency forages

This is part of an MU Extension series to help row crop and livestock producers manage drought. BOONVILLE, Mo. – Forage producers searching for options amid sustained drought should consider emergency forages, says Todd Lorenz, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist.The drought is not going away and producers need to find a way to fill feed gaps, he says. Three years of back-to-back drought leave producers searching for…

Drought meetings offered in SW Missouri Aug. 4

GALENA, Mo. – Poor forage stands carried over from last year’s drought, lower hay yields, less fertilizer used and a drought again for 2023 have created major uncertainty in the Missouri beef industry.These challenges will affect livestock producers preparing to feed cattle this winter with little forage and hay on hand, says Tim Schnakenberg, a University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist based in Galena.

Early weaning calves to reduce nutrient needs during drought

STOCKTON, Mo. – “Early wean calves to reduce cow herd nutrient needs to match drought-limited feed resources,” says Patrick Davis, University of Missouri Extension livestock field specialist. In addition, early weaning can improve calf performance because calves are put on a more nutritious diet following weaning.Davis discusses strategies to help cattle producers be successful in early weaning calves:

Seed for an 'annual pasture within a perennial pasture'

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Producers looking for ways to grow forages during drought might consider planting an “annual pasture within a perennial pasture,” says University of Missouri Extension state forage specialist Harley Naumann.Naumann says this is a good year to add cool-season annual grass seed to perennial pastures. Cool-season grasses can extend the growing season, provide excellent nutritive value and complement thin pastures.

Use caution when using drought-stricken corn for relief feed

This is part of an MU Extension series to help row crop and livestock producers manage drought. COLUMBIA, Mo. – Some drought-stricken corn may have more value as cattle feed than grain this year.Droughty corn offers options when feed supplies are tight, but producers should think the process through, says University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Gene Schmitz.There are three main things to do before deciding to use droughty…

Don't waste precious hay during drought

TROY, Mo. – Drought has pushed livestock producers to hunt for emergency hay.“If you are lucky enough to have hay, take special care to reduce waste this year,” says University of Missouri Extension specialist Charlie Ellis. “This is a good year to pinch pennies and plan on doing some extra labor.”Proper feeding reduces waste and lowers costs with a bonus of improving animal behavior and performance, says Ellis.

Check with your crop insurance agent before you cut

This is part of an MU Extension series to help row crop and livestock producers manage drought.COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension agricultural economists recommend that you check with your crop insurance agent before cutting or grazing drought-damaged crops as relief forages.Some producers are finding that drought-stricken corn may have more value as cattle feed than grain this year. They are using the corn to fill feed…

Things to consider as you feed your way through the drought

“Cattle producers are dealing with varying degrees of drought and forage resources,” says Patrick Davis MU Extension livestock field specialist. Some cattle producers have received adequate rain and are recovering from the 2022 drought through rebuilding forage and cattle resources. Other cattle producers have received limited rain and are continuing to deal with drought conditions from 2022 with less resources in 2023.

Top 5 livestock forage actions to take during drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Most of Missouri is experiencing drought conditions, which have extended almost a full year, putting enormous pressure on cattle producers. University of Missouri Extension specialists have five top action items for producers to do now: