Texas hay supplies have been rebuilt; many pastures and rangeland have improved considerably, says Jason Cleere, Texas AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, College Station.

Increased forage reserves and high market prices from decreased herd sizes are tempting some livestock producers to consider restocking their herds. But replacement prices are high, and those same ranchers are on guard, he says.

“There is more optimism, but at the same time they’re very cautious right now because they’re still trying to allow pastures to recover and make sure they have some forage reserves for the next drought. They can’t afford to go through what they went through last year.”

Nation-wide, beef cattle inventories dropped 3% last year. For those not familiar with the beef cattle business, that may not seem like much, he says.

“But we already had a shrunken cowherd because of a number of years of drought and dispersals. As a result, we now have the smallest cowherd that the U.S. has had in the past 60 years. In some of the counties, it was pretty devastating.”

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force Web site.