Texoma livestock could suffer if dry conditions persist - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Texoma livestock could suffer if dry conditions persist

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A lack of rain threatens the food supply for Texoma cattle. (KTEN) A lack of rain threatens the food supply for Texoma cattle. (KTEN)

FANNIN COUNTY, Texas -- The Texas Water Development Board said Thursday that Grayson County and much of northeast Texas is experiencing "abnormally dry" conditions.

Droughts affect a lot of things in agriculture, and livestock are particularly at risk.

Following the wettest August on record, parts of Texoma are now experiencing drought-like conditions following a very dry September extending into the first days of October.

Drought is measured in levels, and this graphic from the United States Drought Monitor shows "abnormally dry" conditions across much of Texoma and "moderate drought" levels along parts of the Red River and in Bryan, Choctaw and McCurtain counties.

Map shows drought conditions across Texoma

This might not seem that bad, but for cattle, it could be a hazard to the hay that is a staple of their diet.

"You gotta have the grass before you have the cattle, and we tell people that all the time: If you don't have standing forage out there and -- even in the winter months -- if you don't have supplemental forage for them, which would be our hay, then we aren't meeting the nutritional requirements of the cattle," said  Fannin County Extension Agent Cody Maxwell.

Less food means smaller cattle, which means less money in ranchers' wallets.

"If you plan on selling a 5-weight calf off the cow and you have to wean it at a 4-weight, then you might get a little more price, but you're selling a lighter weight animal," Maxwell said.

That means farmers and ranchers like Billy Bob Aycock may soon have to make some tough decisions between having to sell smaller cattle or risk planting more hay.

"You don't know what decision to do... whether to buy cattle or plant it dry without any moisture," he said. "Banking on the good Lord to give us some rain and just put your faith there and go with it."

And farmers will continue to keep an eye on the forecast to see when to plant their winter pastures.

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