RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — A lack of rain is drying up graze land leaving ranchers few options. Many of them are now hauling some of their herd to the sale barn a few months ahead of schedule.
What is normally the slow season for this sale barn, is now busy. Today in Phillip, rancher Jim Leteller is selling about 30 of his cows.
“We run about a little over a hundred head cows, in today’s business that’s not a very big herd,” Leteller said.
“It’s all about the drought. That’s the major reason that we are putting so many cattle on the market,” Piroutek said.
As a rancher, Dan Piroutek, says he’s seen droughts come and go. But some things need to change.
“You just go into restaurants, they’re full, people are ordering steaks, they are paying a lot of money for them, they like beef. We just need to translate that price of beef that the people are paying the restaurants to these ranchers, that’s what needs to happen,” Piroutek said.
Owner Baxter Anders says here in Philip in a normal year he’d sell a couple hundred head a week. But because of the drought, he expects to sell about 500 today.
Anders also runs the sale barn in Belle Fourche.
“At both of our markets, the cattle are higher just due to the drought. Most people that would sell their yearlings out in August are starting to sell them right now in June, July,” Anders said.
Anders expects sale numbers to stay high until the 2021 drought breaks.
“I’m concerned… I guess you kind of learn to deal with what you have, but it’s tough and the things you have to buy are so high priced which is kind of scary,” Leteller said.
The owner of Philip and Belle Fourche Livestock Sale Barns says Belle Fourche is currently selling anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 head a week. In a normal year, it sells around 300 to 400.