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      Ranchers Worry About Feeding Options for Their Cattle During Drought

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      The dry, harsh conditions of the drought in Nebraska has put stress on ranchers figuring out how to make a profit this year.

      Just a year ago many ranchers had no idea 2012 would be one of the hardest hit years of their operations. Now the very food to feed their cattle is sparse leaving ranchers with limited options on how to combat this devastating drought.

      Even with snow-capped corn stalks blanketing Central Nebraska the historic drought of 2012 is spilling over to 2013.

      "The challenge now becomes especially when corn stalks are no longer available then you start to get to harvest forages and those get expensive," said University of Nebraska-Lincoln beef specialist Rick Rasby.

      It's a simple case of economics -- supply and demand -- right now producers are needing more feed for their cattle and calves and the supply just isn't there.

      "In most situations even hay production was probably 50 percent -- maybe 66 percent of normal so that really makes for some challenges for our cow-calf producers," said Rasby.

      "We're going to have to try to import some feed stuffs from the Dakotas," said Jennifer Saueressig from Overton.

      The severe drought is forcing ranchers to make tough choices on their operations, like rationing the amount of food going to their cattle.

      Some options are to dry-lotting their cows which gives the cows the absolute requirements to stay healthy. Unfortunately, even with some moisture it will take a while for the cows to get to eat the grass. We'll see if Mother Nature will bless Nebraska with some moisture or if another harsh, long summer awaits us.

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