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October 27, 2021 Health & Production

When in Drought: Considerations for grazing riparian areas

I was recently asked, “What do you recommend for grazing riparian areas in a drought?

Grazing riparian areas always requires careful management, but particularly during a drought. Like a lot of agricultural management, planning ahead and having contingencies in place before, during, and after a drought is the best way to build resiliency, but that ideal is not always possible.

In the immediate needs of trying to feed your cows, how can you reduce impacts and keep your pasture as healthy as possible?

The most important thing to remember is that applying the four grazing principles still applies:

  • Balance supply with demand (leave enough behind)
  • Provide effective growing season rest for plants to regrow
  • Plan livestock distribution (don’t let the cows make all the decisions and hang out in their favourite spots)
  • Avoid vulnerable times (like the spring, when plants are just starting to grow and soils are soft and compactable, and late season, when livestock start to seek out woody plants because they keep their nutritional value)

Continue reading this article from the Cows and Fish fall newsletter:

Caring for the Green Zone

You can also listen to Norine Ambrose, Executive Director, Cows and Fish, discuss management practices when grazing riparian areas and pasture recovery after tough years, on the Coffee Cows and Crops podcast.

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About the Author

Norine Ambrose
Norine Ambrose is the Executive Director for the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish). Cows and Fish is a non-profit society striving to foster a better understanding of how improvements in grazing and other management of riparian areas can enhance landscape health and productivity, for the benefit of landowners, agricultural producers, communities and others who use and value riparian areas.

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