Are some cows more drought tolerant than others?

Written by Kit Pharo, Pharo Cattle Company, USA. 

Are some cows more drought tolerant than others? Absolutely! If you have been paying attention, it should be obvious that not all cows are created equal. Some cows are able to do much more with much less. The primary difference between those cows and their herd mates is their ability to maintain good body condition.

In good and bad times alike… nothing is as important as a cow’s ability to maintain a good body condition score. Thin cows are incapable of getting bred. If a cow cannot get bred, she becomes an expense – instead of an income-producing asset. Thin cows also struggle to produce enough milk to raise healthy calves.

The difference between a low body condition score and a high body condition score is the amount of body fat a cow has amassed. Fat deposition, however, cannot take place until all other needs have been met – including the requirements for maintenance (survival), growth and lactation. The sooner a cow can meet those basic requirements, the sooner she can start laying down fat.

Do drought-tolerant cows come in all shapes and sizes?   Absolutely NOT! The most drought-tolerant cows are thick, easy-fleshing, low-maintenance, 3 to 4-frame cows that weigh 475 to 525kgs.

No matter how drought-tolerant your cows are… you still need to manage your grass and your stocking rates. If you are no longer growing grass, you will need to do some destocking. The sooner you sell or relocate the bottom end of your cowherd, the more grass you will have for the top end of your cowherd.   


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