Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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Heavy Rainfall Affecting Upper Cumberland Livestock

Heavy rainfall in the Upper Cumberland can have an impact on livestock and pastures.

UT Ag Extension Agent Wayne Key said the heavy rain can muddy the fields and paths used by livestock, potentially affecting their health.

“When it comes to the rain that we’ve had, it’s definitely causing the impact,” Key said. “Whether it be nutritionally, whether it be the effects of the rain and the excessive foot traffic and so forth on moist and very damp soils… We get a lot of erosion issues this time of year with a lot of rains because we don’t have a lot of leaf cover or canopy in the trees. The rainfall pretty much hits the ground and causes a lot of problems.”

Key said the rain could also impact ponds that may be used by livestock as a source for drinking water.

“We do see some effects on herd health through this time of year,” Key said. “We’ve got water in ponds that’s very muddy for cattle having to drink out of them. So we could have some pathogens and so forth we wouldn’t have if it were clearer weather.”

The rain affects more than cattle as any grazing animal such as horses, goats, and sheep are being impacted by heavy rains. Key said farmers using hay to feed their animals are having trouble finding decent feeding grounds.

“We’ve got a lot of pastures where they feed hay and they’re having to constantly move hay to find drier spots,” Key said. “That means we tear up more grass, more forages. They’re worried that we’re going to have a problem come spring time and not have enough available forage for cattle, and have to feed hay longer into the spring and summer, because of not having ground that has got grasses established to provide enough nutrition.”

Unfortunately for farmers, Keys said there isn’t much that can be done to combat muddy pastures without taking on additional costs.

“Really, a lot of it’s up to Mother Nature. Farmers don’t have excess funds to concrete feeding pad, which is one option,” Key said. “Gravel can be tough this time of year to get into and into places to create a gravel pad to feed on. It’s so soft, dump trucks and stuff can’t get in there getting into fields and stuff… Continue to feed in those same spots and not move those hay rings where you’re tearing up more ground and more forage.”

Several areas across the region experienced flash flooding Wednesday as nearly four inches of rain fell in some locations. The National Weather Service has already issued a Flash Flood Watch for parts of the Upper Cumberland beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday.

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