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Lasting effects of an ongoing drought

A cow-calf producer and feedlot operator from north-central Kansas says the ongoing drought conditions have changed how his farm operates.

Philip Weltmer from Smith County says he traditionally uses wheat straw for feed rations and bedding, but a poor crop caused him to switch to corn stalks.

“A lot of people have been using corn stalks a long time. It’s better bedding for us and it stays up.”

He says the drought also affected cattle pregnancy rates, calf weights and the overall nutrition of the cattle herd.

“You can’t replace the green grass in the spring with the dry roughage and the cows just hated to eat it. They wanted what little green grass was on the other side of the fence,” he says. “We were running low on hay supplies and silage, but doing the best we could to maximize what we were feeding.”

There have been slight improvements to the extreme drought conditions this winter and Weltmer says he’s glad to have the moisture.

“It’s a lot better now than it was this time a year ago.”

He says the recent snow should help the grass green up, but the dry ponds and wells still need water from spring rains.

Brownfield interviewed Weltmer at the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention in Orlando, Florida.

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