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Severe Drought, Heat Hurting Feedyards

July 19, 2012, 5:40 PM by Hailey Higgins

Severe Drought, Heat Hurting Feedyards
FORDYCE, NE -

The persistent hot, dry conditions are not only hurting crops, they're hurting one of the region's largest industries.

As Ron Heine drives around his vast feed yard, it only takes one look to see his 13,000 head of cattle are suffering under the deadly heat and extreme drought.

"It’s the worst on record. I've never seen it this bad, this long," Heine said.

At Heine Farms Feed Yard, the family is doing all they can to keep the animals from dying under the scorching sun. They've supplied sprinklers and provided shade to ease the discomfort.  But that isn't Heine's biggest concern.

"It's hard to have a feed lot if you don't have feed," Heine said.

For the first time ever, he's worried about how he will feed the cattle. He's contracted with area corn farmers who now say they'll produce little to no yield this year. In 30 days, all the feed he has stored from last year will run out.

"You know, we don't know exactly [what we'll do]," Heine said. "Maybe there are different sources of things to use. We might be able to get wheat bids or soybean hulls, anything to supplement some type of roughage or feed to feed the cattle."

Heine says each of his cows require 45 pounds of food each day. Because it is so hot, they're only gaining about half the weight they regularly would each day.

"You just got to pray for rain and hope for the best and hope that it moderates a little bit. Just hope that it moderates some," Heine said.

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