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July 19, 2012 06:04 PM

Livestock Sales Quadruple In Belle Fourche

Belle Fourche, SD

About a month ago, we took you to the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange to see how cattle ranches West River are being affected by the drought.

It was another larger than usual sale at the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange on Thursday thanks to weather that continues to get more hot and dry.

"This grass deal is still serious and getting worse.  If you happen to catch one of them showers it helps for a couple days but not long," Livestock Exchange owner Dean Strong said.

"Well, it basically comes down to feed, having enough feed to hold the cattle out in the country," Wyoming rancher Jerry Kuhbacher said.

Even the Livestock Exchange's owner has been affected by the drought.

"Yeah, we got a load of spayed heifers that we've had out on grass.  Ran out of grass so we had to bring them in," Strong said.

The early sales are cutting into many ranchers' bottom lines.

"And if they have to sell yearlings and calves at less weight than normal, why, it gets in their pocket book," Strong said.

While the drought has hit many western ranchers hard, a lucky few have hit the rainfall lottery and were in the buying mood.

"I got a little room to buy some cattle between now and fall, you know, if it looks right," Kuhbacher said.

The Wyoming rancher says that he's got plenty of water and grass, but even he is having to haul hay down from Montana for the winter.

"We'll be doing that for two or three months.  You know, hauling hay down," Kuhbacher said.

With no relief in sight, it doesn't look like the livestock sales in Belle Fourche will slow down anytime soon.

More than 2,000 head of cattle were sold at Thursday's auction in Belle Fourche.  Normally it's 300 to 400 this time of year.

  • Agriculture
  • Livestock
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