Drought Management and Livestock

How to manage drought for livestock operations

Posted by Brooke Loeffler on Jul 5, 2023 7:07:10 PM

Watch Your Drought Forecast

Staying informed on your local drought conditions is an important first step. The National Integrated Drought Information System can offer current and predictive data for moisture levels in your area. They also offer helpful tips specific to the agriculture and livestock industries. 

Replenish Electrolytes and Minerals

It is critical to not wait until you notice physical stress and suffering to address nutritional changes. Ensuring your animals have unrestricted access to minerals will help them maintain body condition scores, and overall health during times of drought.

Livestock minerals for all species

Expand Your Mineral Profile

Offering your animals a more expansive mineral profile helps them better utilize water, feed, and forage intake. Avoid the temptation to offer low salt/heavy mineral mixes because they can be very unpalatable to your animals. A higher salt to mineral ratio with a greater variety of trace minerals provides more balanced electrolytes and resolves deficiencies more effectively than heavy mineral mixes. Learn more about which electrolytes are needed during hot summer months.

Watch for Pica Behaviors

Pica is an eating disorder that causes animals to chew on or lick non-food substances, like: rocks, dirt, wood, plaster, etc. If you see these behaviors in your animals, they most likely are suffering from mineral deficiencies, typically salt. Consult your vet/nutritionist and try using a higher salt to mineral ratio and offer a more expansive mineral profile.

Switch from Block to Loose Minerals

Mineral blocks have plenty of benefits, and there are many circumstances where they are preferred. However, switching to loose minerals during drought conditions can help increase your animals’ intake. Moving your mineral stations closer to water sources will also make it easier for your livestock to get what they need. Here are some helpful tips about when to use blocks vs. loose minerals.

Custom Fortifications

With the support of your vet, test your animals for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Consider grouping animals by their specific nutritional needs so you can supplement their intake more accurately. 

  • Did you know Redmond Minerals offers custom mineral salt mixes? We are happy to tailor your order to match your animals’ exact needs. 

Protect Water Sources

Improving your stewardship over the water you do have can help your operation safely weather drought conditions.

Cows drinking from a water trough

Shade Water Troughs

By moving water troughs to shaded areas, you can drastically cut down water loss due to evaporation. Make sure to check in on your waterers throughout the day to see if they are shaded for as much as possible as the sun moves.

Reinforce Natural Waterholes

While shading natural ponds and waterholes may not be possible, you can protect them from ground loss. Applying Western Clay PondSeal® creates a natural water containment membrane to keep vital water where your animals need it most. 

Forage Underutilized Areas

During times of plenty, livestock may be able to get by only grazing in their favorite areas. Unfortunately that is a luxury that may not be available during a drought. Apply trace mineral salts to underutilized areas to encourage even your most stubborn animals to forage there. Make sure to watch out for toxic plants that may have crept into those areas while not being used. 

Forage and Feed Testing

Foraging Testing

Each plant in your pastures reacts differently to moisture stress. With less water mobility in the soil, some nutrients may not make it into your vegetation, while other substances (like nitrates) may reach unsafe concentrations. Make sure to test what your animals are grazing on in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Feed Testing

Feed harvested under moisture stress can be high in nitrates and other substances that can cause toxicosis. Test the feed you are offering your animals to watch for deficiencies and toxicities so you can supplement accordingly.

"Be diligent about testing forages prior to haying or grazing to prevent the negative impacts that nitrates can cause, specifically in ruminant animals." - South Dakota State University Ag Extension

Drought Proof Your Farm with Redmond Minerals

Founded by farmers, Redmond Minerals has proudly supported healthy farming operations since the 1950s. From our Jurassic era mineral and volcanic clay deposit in central Utah, we offer all natural supplements for all classes of livestock. Redmond’s mineral mixes, clay conditioners, and bentonite PondSeal® products are nature-made to help your operation weather drought conditions while preserving health and productivity.

Drought proof your farm

Our supplements contain over 60 naturally occurring trace minerals perfectly balanced by nature. Animals love our higher salt to mineral ratio and choose Redmond every time over other minerals!

Want to take your mineral program to the next level? Mix in our nourishing clay conditioner with your mineral salts to bind to toxins and help your animals recycle excess nitrates during drought. Find a Redmond products at a store near you or call us at 866-709-3192today!

© 2023 Redmond Minerals Inc.

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