Sloppy Sloppy Slop

Rain is a good thing. And even though it is a pain at the time it falls, snow is a good thing. Without either, we don’t have the moisture to grow the grass and other crops our cows eat. However, when we get a foot of snow and then it melts, it makes one heck of a sloppy mess out here. I’m talking getting-your-pickup-stuck-on-a-gravel-road-it’s-so-wet kind of mess.

Mom and Dad looking at heifers in a muddy pen

These heifers are being looked at in conditions that are the opposite of clean and dry.


While challenging vehicular movement is one problem, wet ground also causes issues for cattle. As cattlemen, we take steps to help our livestock in these times deal with the mud and the muck more effectively. For example, in pens we make sure there is good drainage so the cattle have dry places to lie down. We also try to avoid moving the cattle in sloppy conditions so they don’t have to slug through the muck as much.

Another living thing that sloppy conditions are hard on is pasture. If the ground is soaked, grass is easily torn by the roots, slowing its re-growth. It’s just like what happens at football games, when the players cleats tear up the turf. Often as ranchers we will feed cattle in a pen under these conditions for a while to allow the pasture to dry out in order to preserve the grass. The temporary pain for the cattle dealing with slop is outweighed by the long-term damage to pasture.

In all, I can’t complain too much about the moisture. Like I said, without it we are in big trouble. But in the meantime until this dries out, I’ll be double checking the road before I drive down it.