Dairy and Cattle Farmers See Benefits, Face Challenges from Unusual March Weather
The unseasonal heat in the US has resulted in cows being let out to pasture two months earlier than they usually begin to graze, and means a higher milk yield from cows across the nation. On the flip side, the cows are in danger of too much good food:
In Texas the results of the weather are more dangerous. Much-needed rain that has fallen across the northern parts of the state has increased pasture growth for grazing cattle, including an increase in clovers and weeds. Ingesting too much lush vegetation can be fatal to the livestock, causing incidences of bloat and a condition known as grass tetany. Grass tetany occurs when cattle feed on lush plants that throw off the balance of nutrients in the animal, usually in the form of a magnesium deficiency. Ranchers are already reporting cattle deaths because of this overeating, a problem that Baker knows all too well after Pennsylvania's rainy season last year.
"When the grass is too rich, it's essentially poisoning the cows," he said. "They don't know when to stop eating."