Drought conditions have troubled livestock producers in many parts of the U.S. over the past few years. According to the latest report, approximately 50 percent of cattle inventory is in an area currently in some level of drought conditions. Most of the severe drought areas are in the Great Plains and Western U.S. The Western and Great Plains regions ended 2021 with about 60 percent of pasture in poor or very poor condition. Drought has contributed to beef cow herd liquidation in severe regions.
Drought areas in the Southeast are not widespread, with many areas receiving much precipitation in recent weeks. However, some drought areas have developed in the Southeast in recent months across TX, LA, AR, and MS. Cool season forages such as winter ryegrass or winter wheat are the primary forages grown during this time of the year and will need moisture through the winter. The latest drought monitor shows approximately 65 percent of U.S. winter wheat production is in an area experiencing drought. While most of this production is in the Plains region, some is in the Southeast. Cattle producers with lower winter forage production due to lack of moisture may need to increase supplementation for cattle over winter – with higher feed and hay costs.