The University of Arizona

Drought Consequences for Cow-Calf Production in Wyoming: 2011—2014

John D. Scasta, Jessica L. Windh, Travis Smith, Bob Baumgartner


On the Ground
• Drought reduces forage quantity and carrying
capacity, but reductions in cow-calf performance
measured by calf average daily gain (ADG) and
weaning weight (WW) are less understood.
• From 2011 to 2014, a period with very dry and very
wet years, we assessed an adjusted 210 day WW
and ADG for a total of 869 calves on two University
of Wyoming ranches.
• We foundWWwas up to 99 pounds (lb) lower, and
ADG was up to 0.47 lb lower between the driest
and wettest years.
• For each one inch reduction in precipitation, WW
are predicted to be 7 lb to 14 lb lower, ADG is
expected to be 0.03 lb to 0.07 lb lower, and dollar
per head values $12 to $27 lower, depending on
calf sex and ranch location.
• If drought occurs, or continues to escalate in
frequency and severity, WW reductions, ADG
reductions, and value per head reductions should
be expected and documented for strategic planning
and/or compensation programs.

Keywords: beef, climate, precipitation, weaning
weights, weather.

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