Wet Winter Affecting Forages, Livestock
Coming out of the wettest winter on record, Alabama farmers face a different set of obstacles this spring.
Kim Mullenix, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System animal science specialist, said cattle could need additional supplementation.
“As cattle make the transition from winter to spring, producers should body condition score their herds to determine if additional supplementation is needed,” Mullenix said. “Cattle have greater maintenance requirements when they are in muddy, wet conditions for an extended period of time because they expend extra energy walking through these conditions.”
The increased rainfall may have producers changing their feeding schedule. Beef cattle producers should prepare to feed hay longer into early spring than normal. Mullenix said feeding hay longer will allow pastures to dry out and rest.
Spring is traditionally another wet season for Alabama. If that trend holds, forages may suffer. Most forages can handle flooding for seven to 10 days. However, if subjected to continuous flooding, it will likely kill the plants.
The rain may have also delayed applications of fertilizer to forages. Once a field is dry enough to cross with equipment, Extension experts recommend farmers apply supplemental nitrogen.
Farmers should base this application on the recommendations to fulfill that crop’s needs. Contact an Alabama Extension animal sciences and forages regional agent for help determining nitrogen fertilizer recommendations.