California's dry winter is leaving west side cattle hungry
The long rainless winter resulted in grass growth on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley about 80 percent less than usual, reported John Holland in the Modesto Bee. Spring rain pushed somewhat more growth on the valley's east side, which was charted at 55 to 70 percent less than normal.
Theresa Becchetti, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, a livestock expert, and Diana Waller, district conservationist for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, reported the conditions in a letter last month to county and federal agriculture officials.
Fall 2011 rain helped germinate seeds, but "unfortunately, that is where it ended," they wrote.
A cattle producer quoted in the story said the poor feed conditions are offset somewhat by beef prices that have remained strong.
The USDA reported that nonirrigated range condition was poor to fair, with some higher-elevation range in good to fair condition.