Even when ranchers have enough water for their cattle, their grass forage conditions are often so depleted in protein, minerals and vitamins that the herds are barely surviving. This has led many ranchers to sell off young cattle early, wean calves early, lose breeding stock, or choose expensive feed and freight measures that will hurt them in the short and long term’
But in east Texas, cattle ranchers have been able to keep their herds in better shape than others, while needing less hay than neighboring ranches. Rick Reeves, a Hallsville, Texas distributor of cattle and horse lick blocks by SweetPro, has seen his clients’ cattle come through the drought needing less forage, maintaining good body condition and getting some healthy weight gains.
A recent North Dakota State University report titled “Drought Management Strategies for Beef Cattle” pointed out “Pastures and native range that are dormant due to drought conditions may be low in vitamin A, phosphorus, and protein”. One key option the study recommends is to “Supplement low-quality feeds correctly” with choices including “commercial protein blocks, . . . and tubs.