Sell cows or buy feed? That’s the question most ranchers face when drought hits. The best time to plan for drought is in a wet year, and one of the best ways to plan for drought is to build flexibility into a cattle operation.
Adding a stocker or yearling element to a cow-calf operation is one way to provide short-term flexibility without sacrificing capital or genetics. When the operation includes either a retained or purchased stocker or yearling herd, it can be adjusted when feed supplies run short, allowing the core cowherd to be maintained. It is also an option for reducing labor requirements.
This year’s stocker/yearling tour, organized by Nebraska Extension, will be near Harrison, Nebraska and focus on the Skavdahl ranch, which is run by brothers, Josh and Jud, their dad, Bill and uncles Jim and Charlie. Their family has ranched in Sioux County for generations, and they run cattle from start to finish. Each part of the family has their own operation, but they share labor, equipment and resources. A stocker/yearling operation allows them to adjust stocking rates to maintain range quality and their cowherd in dry years.
This year’s tour is Thursday, June 29 in Harrison. Participants will meet at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, then tour the Skavdahls’ cow-calf operation. That tour will be followed by lunch at the Harrison Fire Hall, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, and presentations about what new implant rules mean for use in stockers, and a producer panel about retaining calves as a stocker operation. The day will finish with a second tour, of Skavdahls’ stocker/yearling enterprise near Harrison.
Several educators and specialists with Nebraska Extension, as well as cattle producers, will be available for questions and discussion about stocker/yearling programs, implants and other topics.
The day’s program is free, but pre-registration is required, for a meal count. Pre-register by Monday, June 19 by calling the Sheridan County Extension Office at 308-327-2312.