Seasonal Weather-Related Decision Making for Cattle Production in the Northern Great Plains

Reeves, Justin L.
Derner, Justin D.
Sanderson, Matt A.
Kronberg, Scott L.
Hendrickson, John R.
Vermeire, Lance T.
Petersen, Mark K.
Irisarri, J. Gonzalo
Society for Range Management
Publication Year: 
On the Ground• Ranching is a challenging and sometimes riskybusiness, with cattle production (and associatedenterprise income) largely being dependent onseasonal weather patterns and correspondingforage production. To help reduce this risk, theUSDA–Agricultural Research Service performed amultistate study of seasonal weather effects oncattle production across the Northern Great Plains(Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana).• Cool, wet springs and longer, cooler growingseasons increased cattle production across theNorthern Great Plains. Knowledge of these seasonalweather influences on cattle production isimportant for management decision making, butpractical application of this knowledge remainsproblematic.• Increased enterprise flexibility to deal with variableforage production can be achieved by usingseasonal weather forecasts, as well as reducingbase cow-calf herd numbers to less than 100% oftypical ranch carrying capacity. Yearlings or seasonalcontract grazing can then be used to increasegrazing to use additional forage in good years.• Recently launched USDA Regional Climate Hubswill deliver science-based knowledge, practicalinformation, management and conservation strategies,and decision tools to ranchers that will helpthem adapt to weather variability and changingclimatic conditions.Keywords: ranching, adaptive management, climatechange, reducing risk, Climate Hubs.
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Society for Range Management

Rangelands, a publication of the Society for Range Management, serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of facts, ideas, and philosophies pertaining to the study, management, and use of rangelands. The journal features scientific and historical articles as well as Society news. It provides readers with scientifically accurate information in a user-friendly format, placed in context of the world we live in today. Rangelands is a practical (non-technical) counterpart of Rangeland Ecology & Management (formerly the Journal of Range Management). The Global Rangelands collection includes articles from Rangelands up to 3 years from the current year. Access to more recent content is available by subscription from BioOne and the Society for Range Management and may also be available at your local university library. 
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