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Principal Investigator: Dan Macon

Evidence is rapidly mounting indicating that co-occurring periods of precipitation deficit and warm temperatures are human caused and likely to increase over the next century resulting in levels of drought intensity and duration rivaling those documented in the paleoclimate records.

Understanding how ecosystem function and agricultural productivity can be maintained under increasingly intense and frequent periods of drought is one of the leading societal challenges of our time. With increasing drought intensity and duration, less pasture available to lease, and less water for irrigation, ranchers in California are likely entering an era of low forage availability which the industry has never experienced.

Given the demonstrated and increasing threat drought poses to California rangeland and livestock production, it is critical that we begin to take the necessary first steps to identify the costs and benefits of common drought management strategies that will give producers and other land managers the critical information necessary to make informed decisions about adapting to this threat.

The broad goal of this project is to quantify the costs and benefits of early weaning as a drought management strategy for fall-calving cow/calf operations in California.

We will quantify the influence of early weaning on forage resources, evaluate influence of early weaning on cow and calf performance, and analyze the economic trade offs associated with early weaning, when compared to traditional weaning strategies.