Hub City Livestock Auction seeing ranchers thinning herds


ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — Ranchers knew trouble could be looming after a mild winter.

“A lot of the ranchers delayed putting cattle on grass, knew they were going to struggle, but the rain never came and so a lot of the grass is short. And where we’re really having a lot of trouble here is water. A lot of producers do have some grass, but a lot of the ponds and stock dams are drying up,” Hub City Livestock Auction co-owner Steve Hellwig said.

Hub City Livestock co-owner Steve Hellwig says the drought is leading to the trend he’s seeing now: people selling some cattle early.

“What we’ve seen mostly is people just thinning down 10,15,20 percent of their herd has come to town due to the fact that they just want to spread it out and hopefully they can hang on to the rest,” Hellwig said.

The challenges won’t end once we break this hot, dry spell.

“My concern is what are we going to do here this winter when we’re running at 20, 30, 50 percent normal of hay crop and farmers need 100 percent to get their cows through? What are we going to do? That’s going to be a big concern of mine,” Hellwig said.

Rancher Stan Gonsoir says he and his dad may have to sell some cattle a little sooner than normal later this year.

“The feed’s going to be short this winter to feed them and we only know what winter’s going to bring. We could have no snow again or we could have three inches of snow by Thanksgiving time in South Dakota,” Rancher and vet tech Stan Gonsoir said.

While Hellwig says this isn’t uncommon to sell cattle early during a dry year, nobody likes to see it.

Hellwig says he’s also seen some ranchers sell off herds.

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