Farmers crossbreeding cattle for more drought-tolerant animals
POSTED: Monday, August 13, 2012 - 12:30pm
UPDATED: Monday, August 13, 2012 - 12:46pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The crunch of dry grass makes Ken Wiseman cringe.
"That's not good," Wiseman said he walked across his property.
The lack of rain is taking a toll on his 80 acres.
"We haven't had a significant rainfall here on these hills since March 24. That ought to tell you something," says Wiseman.
He fought through a similar drought 20 years ago.
"That's what got us started on this Brangus breed," says Wiseman.
And he said a decision he made back then is what will get him through this battle. Wiseman bred Brahman cattle with Angus which produced what's known as Brangus.
"The Brangus cows that we have, they will stay out on top of the hill in the hot sun and keep eating. The others go to the shade or to the pond," says Wiseman.
The breed, he said, developed a natural tolerance to heat and drought.
"If they're out eating, they're putting on weight and that's money in the farmers pocket," he said.
While many of his cattle are gaining weight, many of his trees are losing their leaves. Wiseman said the drought is so bad, they are reaching seven feet high and gnawing on the branches.
"A lot of times they'll reach up and get it but that's unusual to reach that high up," he said.
Wiseman said the hardier animals are engineered to survive and even thrive in this weather. But he's hoping for fast relief for them and him.
"The good Lord is going to take care of is. All you got to do is pray and keep a positive attitude," he said with a smile.