National Drought Mitigation Center

National Drought Mitigation Center
subscribe to rss

Lack of rainfall affecting livestock operation in Tehama County, California
4/9/2018 12:47:37 AM

Plants & Wildlife
Water Supply & Quality
Tehama County, CA
Paskenta, CA

Start Date: 11/15/2017 - End Date: 4/3/2018
Our ranch is located in northern California about 45 miles south of Redding, CA, about 16 miles west of the I-5 corridor. Our nearest post office is Paskenta, CA. Since our first rainfall on November 8, 2017 we have received 6.25" of rain. Our average for the year is around 22". We have approximately 45 days remaining in our rainy season. Our ranch consists of 6500 acres and has the carrying capacity, on a normal year, of 500 fall pairs for the grazing season, which consists of the months from November through mid May. This provides 180 day season multiplied by 500 pairs equals 90,000 animal grazing days. Our grass is O.K. at best. To clarify, the quality is good, quantity is poor. The rain has waited until the last possible day to arrive on every occasion thus far meaning we have had little rain, but it has arrived at just the right time to keep us going. The drought is affecting our operation in multiple ways. 1. The first impact is our carrying capacity. November 15 we brought in 300 fall pairs. This is a little over half of what should have been brought in. March 10 we brought in another 100 fall pairs and 60 spring calving cows. This works out to: 300 pairs multiplied by 180 days equals 54,000 animal grazing days plus 100 pairs and 60 bred cows multiplied by only 60 days equals 9,600 animal grazing days for a total of 63,600 animal grazing days. This is a 30% loss in carrying capacity. 2. Rain Runoff. We depend on rain runoff to recharge stock ponds and to provide stream flow in seasonal creeks to provide drinking water. We have been hauling water to one group of cows for 3 weeks. The others will be fine for this year. 3. Calf market weights. We are projecting our market calves to be 40-70 pounds lighter due to lack of available feed and also having to sell animals sooner. 4. The greatest impact of 2017-2018 drought, in my opinion, will be fall of 2018. We have not received any runoff to recharge our stock ponds. This will not allow us to graze cattle until we receive significant rain which will shorten our cattle grazing days for a second consecutive year. The drought is really spotty in northern California. Conditions change drastically within 30 miles of our operation; some for the better, most for the worst. To summarize, to graze one cow for one day is $1.33 We will lose 26,400 animal grazing days this season for a loss of $35,112. Add 400 fall pairs, which will yield 300 calves to sell weighing 560 pounds (last years average was 600 pounds) for a price of $1.50/lb equals $840.00 ($900.00 using last years weights) for a loss of $60.00 per calf multiplied by 300 equals $18,000 loss. 2018-2019 presents other potential losses with less animal grazing days. There is a very good possibility we will not have any cattle until January 1, 2019, due to stock pond recharge, which will be a 45-day loss of days. 45 days multiplied by 500 pairs equals 22,500 animal grazing days multiplied by $1.33 for a loss of $29,925. This puts our total financial loss to $83,037.00, not counting losses from conception issues, lack of feed for replacements, lack of yield in hay production, etc... From Tehama County, California, on April 3, 2018