Wet weather keeping some ranchers from turning out their cattle

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Wet weather is usually a farmer or rancher's ideal situation. But this year, the weather pattern is hurting ranchers in the field. They need to feed their cattle, but extension agents warn about turning cows out to soon.

Moderation is the key and even though the weather's been pretty good this spring, the pasture grasses are coming in a little slow. So cattle producers are having to rely on the cool season grasses, like crested wheat grass. But they say they need the weather to change soon.

Doug Hille is still waiting to open up all his pastures to more than 300 cattle. While wet weather is more favorable than dry, this year's pattern is putting him in a bind.

"We could go to prairie right now but we would lose some long term production for the season,” said Hille.

For now, he'll feed his cows with non-native grasses and cover crops. A hefty herd is built on warm-season, North Dakota grasses, which aren't even close to where they need to be.

"We're trying to encourage ranchers to hold off on those locations until the plants reach the three to three-and-a-half leaf stage. Now, they're probably at the one leaf stage or barely coming out of the ground,” said Rick Schmidt, Oliver County extension agent.

That means Hille can't get his stock onto his best land. But all hope isn't lost.

"When we do get the heat, the plant will flourish and really do a good job this year we think,” said Hille.

"You take a look at where they're at today versus probably what they'll be in a month, six weeks from now, there's a lot of growth that can happen in those plants,” said Schmidt, showing us a comparison of this year’s growth to last year’s plant.

Hille will count on that growth before more than 100 cows hit the market.

One of the grasses to look for is blue grama. It's a warm season grass that cows love to graze on and it gets them fat, right before they go to market. If we get this in the ideal growing conditions, it can grow anywhere between three and four inches per week.