Drought, input costs complicate decisions for cattle producers

Drought and skyrocketing input costs have caused some cattle producers in Nebraska to change their grazing strategies.  

Adam Sweitzer says he uses prescribed fires in the spring to burn off woody encroachment to help conserve the world’s largest native grassland. “We have learned over the past few years that Sandhills are a lot tougher than what we worried,” he says. “In normal situations, we can still burn and still graze late in the season and get a long just fine.”

He tells Brownfield the drought substantially increased the risk of a burn getting out of control. “Our neighbors and the people we run with, we didn’t feel safe doing it and financially we just couldn’t do it as much as we wanted.”

Don Connell says dryness has persisted for almost two years on his ranch, which has forced him to rotate herds quicker. “It’s coming back slowly, but not as fast as you’d like.”

He says he hasn’t had to purchase hay, yet. “I had some carryover.  Hopefully, that will go through.  I keep praying for a rain here soon and hopefully a big one to boot.”  

Sweitzer and Connell spoke with Brownfield at the 2022 Grazing Conference.

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