Drought forces ranchers to sell off cattle
Drought forces ranchers to sell off cattle.
It’s so hot and dry in northern parts of the U.S. that cattle ranchers are frantically selling off animals to trim their herds as hay crops and pasturelands wither.
There were so many cows, calves and pairs of the animals available for sale at a recent livestock auction in Aberdeen, S.D.
that bidding lasted 15 hours, said Steve Hellwig, the co-owner of Hub City Livestock Auction who chanted the rhythmic repetition of prices until 1:30 a.m.
Sales for the day reached a record 2,480 lots, or more than three times the normal weekly total.
Prices for spring wheat, grown in the area, have soared 16 percent this month as volatility jumped.
While the rush of cattle to auctions probably won’t have an immediate impact on U.S. meat supplies, some of the ranchers who are being forced to sell their animals early or pay more for feed may see their incomes suffer.
The dry conditions spurred the National Farmers Union along with groups from Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota to send a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week requesting that land in a federal conservation program be released for emergency grazing or haying.
Some cattle have been sold to ranches in Wyoming and Nebraska, where grazing conditions were more favorable, said Tim Petry, a livestock marketing economist at North Dakota State University.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, on average, expect that 2.08 million cattle were placed in feedlots in May, up 10 percent from a year ago.