As we write this article, many ranchers - especially those in the western states - are facing drought conditions. Or, at least drier-than-usual conditions. What this means, unfortunately, is an increase in cost-to-feed - because of the shortage of forages. The cost of hay and straw soars due to supply and demand. As a result, immense pressure is on ranchers that don’t have enough pasture to support their cow herd.
These are all very real pressures that ranchers face during drought conditions, and we are very sympathetic to the pain that ranchers experience in times like these.
With this backdrop, we wanted to offer something that could represent a welcome glimmer of hope. Riomax® is a livestock supplement with high concentration and low consumption and a very strong focus on digestion. The key here is helping your animals to absorb more nutrients and graze less. Riomax® helps this by pulling more protein and energy out of forages, so you can stretch your resources further than ever.
4 Strategies To Mitigate Risk Caused By Drought:
Although we can’t wave a magic wand and make it rain, we do have a few tangible solutions you can implement to reduce the risk and impact drought has on ranching communities.
1. Increase digestion capacity
Increasing the digestion capacity means better-utilizing forages in your cow herd. With Nutrizorb® - Riomax’s digestion package - we feed the troops that win the war.
We feed the bugs and the fungi, hyper-activate, and multiply them so that they in turn do a better job of squeezing more nutrients, energy, protein, and goodness out of every mouthful, every acre, every bale, every day.
This is critically important because it’s helping ranchers run lean and mean, it’s increasing efficiency, and it’s decreasing your daily cost. There are many instances where the value of the hay saved from using Riomax® completely offsets the cost of the Riomax® product. In other words, Riomax® has ‘earned its keep’, and it is costing that rancher nothing.
2. Better-manage the assets you have.
Your largest asset is your land base. What we want to help you do is better-utilize every mouthful, as discussed in step 1, and better-utilize every acre, in terms of grazing management. That means we’re enabling those cows to graze parts of the pasture that they would not typically graze in and help them frequent parts of the ranch that they would not typically frequent. What this means is less dependence on hay and supplements you would have to buy.
Ultimately, you are more self-sufficient because your land base is better supporting you. A rancher from Idaho said,
“My cows are grazing grasses that they don’t typically go after at all, in fact, they’re grazing star thistle - taking great big mouthfuls of it”.
When a cow grazes star thistle, it has a two-fold effect.
- It's providing very cheap rumen/gut-fill.
- It is helping to suppress the weed population, which gives scope for the grass to proliferate.
In the bigger picture, the rancher from Idaho said, “I’m putting 5 cents per day in my pocket, and feeding Riomax® for free”. It’s results and math. Call it cowboy math, or call it business-consulting math. Whatever it is, it stacks up; especially in tougher conditions where you’ve got to make every dollar work for you.
At Riomax®, we’re not just looking to be the lowest cost-per-head-per-day, we’re looking at how can we help ranchers to break even on Riomax®, and furthermore, get the highest possible return on investment.
3. Use high-quality mineral tubs as a grazing management tool.
This will help suck cows into strategic parts of the pasture and help them utilize areas that may be under-utilized or areas of stockpiled forage. A rancher from Alberta said,
“We’ve got low-quality stock-piled forage, and the cows go after it and they hustle, they’ve got to hustle for us. And they perform really well”.
That, in essence, is the whole Riomax® story.
Riomax® is enabling and empowering cows to squeeze more out of every mouthful so that they can hustle - in other words, work for us (instead of us for them) - and also perform well on low-cost forages. It comes back to efficiency, and a healthy economic model.
4. Avoid over-consumption.
Typically, in drought conditions when people put out tubs - brand x or y - they will notice that because of the lower availability and quality of forages, cows will hit the tubs really hard. Many times, this results in over-consumption. This can be very cost-prohibitive for the rancher.
With the Riomax® tubs - high concentration and low consumption tub by design - we don’t see that gorging, or over-consumption. In cases that we do see over-consumption (more than 1/3 lb.), and the rancher has used it according to our users-guide recommendations, we will then take care of that customer with our CostGuard® guarantee. Any over-consumption we will make up to them; that is our problem, not theirs.
Next Step: Implement Drought Management Tips
So, there you have 4 key, tangible, doable, easy ways to reduce the impact of drought on your ranching operation and your ranching business.
Now, it's time to put them into action so you can be one step closer to saving your cattle, your ranch, your land-base... whatever it is that's at stake. Nobody enjoys challenging times. But if you at least do what you can to reduce drought risks now, you'll be further ahead when the rain finally comes.
Ready to see what Riomax® can do for you and your drought challenges? Check out this video on '3 Ways to Reduce The Impact of Drought'.