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August 04, 2017 06:07 PM

Poisoned Cattle

There's growing concern for farmers and their livestock all across KELOLAND. 

The temperatures may be cooler this week, but the drought continues and now farmers and ranchers are keeping close tabs on their livestock; especially their cattle.

The most recent drought monitor released Thursday shows many areas of KELOLAND are still experiencing extreme drought conditions.  

Pastures and stock dams are drying up and it's forcing producers to make some tough choices.  

You see dry grass, but farmers and ranchers in the central part of the state see uncertainty.  

"Just the unknown in the future, knowing the price of feed will probably be higher this year than we're used to, you got to think about your cash flow," Mellette County rancher Lealand Schoon said. 

Which they know could dry up just as fast.  

While Lealand Schoon is attending the Jones/Mellette County Fair, his mind is on his livestock back in White River. 

"With the creeks down and the ponds getting lower, because of the evaporation livestock mortality could be the next thing," Schoon said.  

That's because the water quality in this part of the state is becoming a serious issue.

Lyman County rancher Quint Garnos says his neighbor lost a few cattle already. 

"When the dams get real low, the minerals get higher and it's poisonous to the cows," Garnos said. 

Even shriveled up crops become dangerous to livestock. 

"It's green, but it tends to get high in nitrates, which can be poisonous in the forage too," Schoon said. 

Fighting the drought has been an ongoing battle this year for producers.  Some are having to sell off herds of livestock, others are combining CRP acres for feed.  

That's because they know the only thing for certain in farming, is that there is no certainty. 
 
"People in agriculture try to have a drought management plan, so what's the plan if it's going to be an extensive drought," Schoon said. 

Another problem because of the drought, some ranchers are having to rescue their cattle that are getting stuck in the mud at dried out stock dams.


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