Ranchers Selling Cattle As Drought Worsens

As pastures dry up, ranchers are forced to start feeding expensive hay or selling the herd.

July 16, 2012

1 Min Read
Ranchers Selling Cattle As Drought Worsens

Some South Dakota ranchers are starting to sell off cattle due to worsening drought conditions that some producers say the state hasn't seen in decades.

Pastures are drying up, hay and feed are running low and the lack of rain is turning the water bad in stock ponds. Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange owner Dean Strong says that one recent sale that typically would have seen 500 cattle had more than 2,000 head. Other auction owners have similar stories.

"There's quite a few cattle moving right now," says Justin Tupper, owner of the St. Onge Livestock Co. "Normally this time of year, we'll sell 300 to 500 a week, and now we're doing 1,000 to 1,500 a week."

Bruce Blair, who ranches near Tilford in western South Dakota, has sold off some of his herd. His summer pastures have been depleted and he's had to move cattle onto winter pastures -- something he doesn't normally do until October, he said.

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