Phillips-Rooks Extension District #5
Governor signs order allowing larger loads for wildfire relief
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order yesterday (3/9) to facilitate the immediate delivery of large quantities of hay, feed, fencing materials and other relief supplies to areas affected by wildfire. The executive order waives certain motor carrier regulations on trucks hauling livestock feed and fencing.
The declaration applies to motor carriers directly participating in relief efforts. It eliminates some weight restrictions on trucks and allows loads of hay up to 12’ wide and 14’ 6” tall.
“Even as we continue the fight to contain and defeat these fires, this executive order assists and expedites the arrival of recovery supplies as our communities begin to rebuild in the wake of these wildfires,” said Brownback.
Wildfires Tear through Area Counties
Phillips-Rooks District Extension Agent
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Howling winds coupled with warm, dry weather created ideal fire conditions across the region. From the Panhandle of Texas to Southwest Kansas to our own counties, wildfires continue to take their toll on land, livestock, buildings, fence and even human lives. Miles of charred ground leave one feeling anything but hopeful. All may appear lost, but with time and rain, pastures burned by recent fires will come back stronger just like the agricultural community always does after disasters such as this.
Following the fire, think about rangeland management and how you can turn this natural disaster into something beneficial for your operation. Don’t be anxious to begin grazing burned areas too soon.
I know spring turnout is right around the corner, but try to establish a management plan that will defer grazing of these areas until at least mid-July. This will help to improve plant vigor and productivity. Limited acres to graze this season will put extra stress on the pastures that were spared from the flames. Attempt to minimize impact of over-grazing on the unburned areas, but realize your grazing strategy will have to be altered this year.
When you turn cattle out on burned pastures, base the number of cattle on the amount of forage available; don’t just fall back on normal stocking rates. It may take up to two growing seasons before it can be stocked as heavily as it once was.
Broad-leaf plants have the potential to come in strong with spring rains. They provide much-needed ground cover. Avoid the temptation to spray them until the grass has a chance to be re-established.
Disasters occur at the most inconvenient times. Many producers across the area are heavy into calving season. Cows that have been affected by the flames may have incurred burned eyes, feet, udders, sheaths and testicles as well as lung inflammation. Monitor calves to make sure they are still suckling. If a cow has a burned udder, she is likely to keep the calf from nursing.
Effects such as damage to the cattle’s feet may take 10 days to two weeks to be realized. Cattle will start sloughing the hoof wall and become lame after that time frame.
Evaluate all management decisions within the framework of the required rangeland recovery time. Consider weaning early as an option to reduce feed requirements of cows. If you are having to feed low quality forage to get by, be sure to supplement with protein and energy to meet the cows’ nutrient requirements.
Aside from additional feed resources, one large cost of wildfire is the damage to fences. While we dread the task of rebuilding, be aware of opportunities to change fencing layouts or types of fence. Now is the time to structure pastures in a manner that is the most productive for your operation.
For those that lost livestock please contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. They can assist you with the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Visit the following website for more information: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/2016/lip_fact_sheet_2016.pdf
To help with expenses, such as fencing supplies and feed, the Kansas Livestock Association is taking donations. The donated supplies will be distributed across the state to the counties that have been affected by the fires. To donate to this cause, call the KLA Office at (785) 273-5115 or visit www.kla.org. If you are willing to make a cash donation, visit the Kansas Livestock Foundation website at www.kla.org/donationform.aspx. For further information please contact the local K-State Research & Extension Office.
Article written by: Kashly Schweer, Midway District Livestock Specialist