The weather conditions in July caused many problems for producers in the South and Central parts of the province. August has already had a few rain showers and cooler temperatures but many of the problems caused by the hot and dry weather have persisted.
Travis Peardon, Livestock Specialist based out of Outlook, talked about one of the biggest issues producers are facing, "Water quality in dugouts would be the biggest issue that we saw. With all the heat, evaporation and no runoffs water quality probably became an issue in some areas."
Just last month, over 200 cattle in a grazing pasture died due to poor water quality.
While a significant rainfall will improve the conditions, Peardon said water quality will be an issue for a while yet, "That poor water quality will affect the cow throughout the year. It's definitely something that's going to affect producers throughout the summer and fall of 2017."
"Unfortunately, there is no real solution to dugout water or ground water that is poor quality and high in minerals." Peardon said that testing and monitoring water sources is the best preventative measure ranchers can take at this time, "Monitoring the dugouts and getting the water tested is the best strategy. If there is high minerals then the producer will be aware of that and can hopefully find a different water source."
Another problem caused by the dry conditions is a hay shortage. Most Central and Southern parts of the province saw lower than average hay yields this season and were not able to get a second cut.
Peardon said he has seen producers already planning to use lower quality crops as feed, "I know around the Outlook area there were hail storms that went through. There's some crop cut and baled that will be used for livestock feed that would normally been combined and used for grain. It's definitely something we're seeing."
Peardon also talked about what other ranchers are doing to make up the difference, "The price of hay is definitely up this year. So far, feed grains haven't gone up in the same proportion. We'll probably see lots of producers trying to feed screening pellets or barley or oats with the straw to meet their cows requirements this winter."