Drought causing some farmers and ranchers to start selling cattle

Local News

HAMILL, S.D. (KELO) – The drought has caused pastures to dry up and decreased hay production. That’s leading farmers and ranchers to make tough decisions.

Audie Larson and his family all play a roll in running the Larson Family Ranch near Hamill.

It’s a fifth generation ranch, but with the recent dry and hot conditions, Larson says they will soon be selling some cattle.

“We have some two year old heifer pairs, they’re going to go to town next week, it’s so dry we are going to start selling a few, try to hang on to the main core of our registered cow herd that way,” Larson Family Ranch, Audie Larson said.

At Fort Pierre Livestock Auction, co-owner Bryan Hanson says normally this time of year is a little bit slower, but that’s not the case this year.

“Due to the drought conditions across not only South Dakota but also Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, the drought has spread pretty wide across the midwest, and I guess for that reason you’re seeing livestock move at a time when you normally wouldn’t,” co-owner Fort Pierre Livestock, Bryan Hanson said.

This pen is full of cow-calf pairs, which isn’t normal for this time of year.

“It’s the middle of breeding season, that’s just not typically when you would see livestock move, generally they would keep these cattle until anywhere from September to November or whatever their program is,” Hanson said.

He says just how much of people’s herds will be sold, could depend on if we get moisture soon.

“What these guys have done is they have chose to take off a certain amount of the herd to get down to a small enough number, that they can keep the rest of the herd through the whole time, otherwise if they were to keep everything, by the time they used up all of their forage and all of their feed, then they may be forced into selling the entire herd at a later date,” Hanson said.

“We will just start as the summer goes on, if we have to sell more we will just keep sorting off,” Larson said.

Larson says grasshoppers have taken a toll on the grass. They’ve already sprayed twice this year and say they’re going to have to spray a third time. He adds most of their hay production is about 15% of normal.

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