Another hurdle stands in the way for Texoma farmers and ranchers as they get through this winter season. The extreme drought left pastures standing with little to no hay and supplementing the lost hay can put a strain on their pocket books. But Keeping their cattle fed right now is crucial.
Newschannel 6 walked 3 M Ranch with owner Herb Middleton and his wife Kathy. They tell us it is breeding season for his cattle and it is very important that his cattle get fed to make it through until spring.
Coming off a strenuous dry summer the Middleton's have sold off almost half of their herd just to make it through the winter months. Feeding cattle can be difficult with hardly any standing hay for grazing. Herb Middleton comments, "This year we don't have it because they've already eaten it off back during the drought, but normally we have that to fall back on. We could use a higher protein feed because they have more forage. This year the only forage is a bale of hay."
Hay prices are still extremely high so Middleton has been relying on last years hay crop with a combination of protein cubes to feed his cattle. The recent moisture has helped bringing in native grasses into his pastures. Middleton says, "Cattle don't particularly like it, but it is a native winter grass and fortunately we have enough moisture now so it's growing."
So any extra amount of forage is greatly appreciated, especially during a critical time like breeding season, when cattle needs to be fed a healthy amount of protein and forage. Middleton says, "Right now they're vulnerable because they need to breed back. When they do breed back we need them to keep that little one that's started, because if nutrition is not right they'll abort."
So the Middleton's have been keeping a very close eye on their herd. And if that is on track, the next step is looking forward to a early spring. "We're praying spring gets here by the middle of March, if it does we'll hit a home run."
The Middleton's tell us they have already started fertilizing their pastures for this springs hay crop. They want to make sure roots are put down now so they can get a descent amount of hay crop for next year.