Heat drying out feed at foothill cattle ranch

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The high heat has many livestock ranchers concerned over their grazing pastures. The longer the grass stays green, the healthier the cattle. (KFSN)

The high heat has many livestock ranchers concerned over their grazing pastures. The longer the grass stays green, the healthier the cattle.

Billy Freeman is the pied piper of the pasture. Beef cattle follow him whenever he cruises through with a little alfalfa hay. The scenic ranch in the Fresno County foothills is lush and green so a day in the 90s - in March - was not welcome because it dries up the feed.

Freeman is the Rangeland manager for the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. He said, "Now we're seeing where most producers have to make a decision whether they're going to liquidate a lot of their cow herd or they're going to buy very expensive hay, which may be in short supply this year."

Cattle love to forage in the tall grass. A variety called filliree is their favorite. It's also the first to dry out and the process is off to an early start. Freeman explained, "It's looking like it's going to be a resally short year in terms of the quality of the forage production here in this part of California."

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy has owned and managed the nature preserve and working cattle ranch since 2011. Freeman said, "The local foods movement and the demand for grass-fed beef has really been increasing over the past few years."

But the drought has turned ponds into puddles on the 6500 acre property. "These ponds that are for livestock water that are always typically full are now going dry," said Freeman.

So now water must be trucked in for the cattle.

For more information, visit www.sierralandsbeef.com.

Related Topics:
droughtagricultureag watchheatheat waveanimalanimal newsFresno CountySierra - Foothills
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