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Water

Dryness continues: Producers begin to make management decisions

Written by Allie Leitza
Wheatland – Spring came early across the state of Wyoming, and while this was positive for those with cabin fever, it was not a benefit for Wyoming producers. Drought has struck the area once again, and management options are starting to be discussed.
    On June 7, UW Extension provided the producers of the Platte Valley area an opportunity to hear about and discuss the way they could manage their operations in a Drought Management Workshop in Wheatland. The audience heard from Steve Paisley, UW Extension Beef Specialist; Tim Weaver, CPA; Roger Schroeder, Platte County area rancher; and Dallas Mount, UW Extension Educator.
    “There is not an easy solution to managing and operation during times of drought. Everyone’s solution to the current drought will be different,” said Mount.
Weighing the options
    “You just get to a point when you have to make a decision. I didn’t write things down. We just sat down and discussed the options amongst each other,” said Schroeder of his ranch’s operation.
    From a fellow rancher’s prospective, Schroeder was able to give the attendees advice based on the way he has managed his operation during times of drought. In the past, additional feed was bought, calves were weaned early, new wells had to be drilled and reservoirs were dredged.
    “I don’t have any specific answers, these are just things that we have done,” said Schroeder.
    When discussing the opportunities producers have concerning their herds, Paisley offered the audience results of research. Rather than weaning calves in October, a study was done on three different herds that weaned calves in August. Paisley presented the benefits and the ramifications of the option.
    “You may see a lot of opportunity here,” said Paisley.
    The 150-day-old calves reduced the use of forage by 27 percent. Although there was a 150-pound difference in the weaning weight, one full body condition score was salvaged when weaned at an earlier date. Nearly 115 pounds was kept on the calves that were early weaned.
    “The more flesh you have on a calf, the less feed you will need,” said Paisley, adding, “The problem would be finding a buyer for a 450-pound calf in August.”
    Finance and tax management follows on-the-ground drought management. Weaver gave his insight on the options that producers have when they are considering taxes.
    Weaver stated that the last three years have been good production years. Therefore, the past income of the operation will not be beneficial – unless there were losses. Options such as disaster programs will carry your loss back five years. Weaver also suggested buying tangible property that will benefit the operation.
    “If you buy something you are able to depreciate, considering you are fairly profitable, a 15 percent tax is fairly cheap,” said Weaver. “I tell my clients that they are better off paying the taxes and moving forward.”
    “You don’t need to make a tax decision today to run your company. Run your business like you should, and forget about the taxes. Taxes usually find a way of working themselves out,” said Weaver.
    One final option that was presented to the audience was the choice they have to feed distiller’s grain. At the current state, the small amount of range forage that producers have will not be high quality. Hay has 55 percent total digestive nutrients (TDN), whereas distiller’s grain is much higher.
    “Feeding corn to your cattle will also increase the energy going to your herd,” said Mount.  
Final product
    To assist those in attendance in beginning their decision-making processes scenarios were given, and the positive and negative outcomes were discussed. Audience members were able to take a look at what might work best for their operation, and at the same time get advice from the panel, their neighbors and fellow ranchers affected by the drought.  
    “I hope I have inspired you to go home and figure what each of your enterprises has been bringing you,” said Mount.  
    Allie Leitza is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..